A good golf swing is watching poetry in motion. The best make it look effortless while they cannon the ball down the fairway, while the majority of us recreational hackers contort ourselves into positions our body fights against trying to replicate our favourite golfer’s swing.  We are often left with 2 big questions from this endeavour; why can’t I hit it like (insert professional player’s name)? and why does it hurt (insert body part) when I swing?

A golf swing is a very complex movement, which can have infinite combinations of joint (ie. hip, knee, elbow etc.) interactions to provide the finished product. Even comparing 2 swings between 2 individuals that appear identical, will beneath the surface be completely different in terms of how much motion each joint is utilising when compared to the other.

In an effort to hit particular club positions at various stages of the swing, it is entirely possible that if I lack sufficient movement in one joint in my body, I bypass that demand onto other joints within my body. Which leads us into the idea that a stiff wrist could be a contributing factor to back pain felt during a golf swing.

When looking at the image below, I am trying to hit a similar thumbs down position in both. In image 1, my wrist is free to move, in image 2, the wrist has been taped to effectively lock the joint. You’ll notice in image 2 that I rely much more heavily on movement in my shoulder (shrugged up) to hit the same thumb position as image 1, due to the enforced reduction of movement at the wrist.   

 

If looking again at an image 1 image 2 scenario with a still shot of a golf swing just prior to impact with the same constraints of a taped right wrist in image 2, we’ll notice a heavier reliance on a side bend through the lumbar spine during image 2 to get the club face through square to the ball. This could definitely be creating more focal compressive loading through the lumbar spine in image 2 as opposed to the more distributed demonstration in image 1 (be kind in your critique of my swing, I’m a hacker). Repeat this multiple times per round, multiple rounds per year and there is definitely potential that that stiff wrist is stirring up a back.

 

There could definitely be other outcomes from a stiff wrist in the golf swing, I could just end up hitting a vicious slice, I could adopt a stronger bottom hand grip rather than relying on an increased side bend and put more stress and strain through my elbow, I could shrug my shoulders and stick my head forward, I could do a combination of all and more. What’s important to recognise is that the contributors to a pain presentation can be well away from the site of discomfort.

If big hip circles before approaching the golf ball aren’t giving the back relief needed during your golf swing, it might be worthwhile starting to look at some of the other joints involved in the swing.