Is Carrying a Golf Bag Bad for Your Back?
Golf is imagined as a sport of leisure and relaxation.
And while it can be that, certain aspects of the game can be gruelling on the body. The main culprit? Carrying a heavy golf bag across the course.
Golf bags are an integral part of the game, allowing golfers to easily access all the clubs and other equipment that they'll need to play their best.
But these bags have a bad reputation for damaging the body. Here, we'll explain how golf bags may contribute to back pain and what you can do to prevent it.
Is it Good Exercise to Carry a Golf Bag?
Golf boasts lots of benefits when it comes to physical and mental wellbeing. Being outside, soaking up some sun, and spending time with friends are all incredible for a person's mental health. Additionally, golf requires people to walk great distances across the course and stay on their feet for hours at a time, making golf great for cardiovascular health.
Lugging a loaded-up golf bag may also come with positive health implications: the added weight can build muscle and burn calories as you walk around the course. But despite these findings, the negatives might outweigh the positives.
Why is Carrying a Golf Bag on Your Back Bad?
It is commonly said that if you carry a golf bag, it should weigh no more than 20% of your total body weight. An average set of golf clubs weighs about 30lbs, and the bags themselves often weigh between 2 and 5lbs. That adds up to 35lbs; that's before additional bells and whistles you carry across the course with you.
That means that, at a minimum, you'll need to weigh more than 175lbs for your 35lb pack to be within the recommended weight for carrying. But even if you meet this requirement, there are many reasons carrying your golf bag can be damaging for your back.
When an athlete lifts weight at the gym, they focus on correct form over all else. To safely carry a golf bag, golfers need to give this same level of attention to their posture.
As you move across the course, there are many other things to focus on, and it is unrealistic to expect people to walk great distances across the green while concentrating solely on impeccable physical form.
Additionally, it is common for golfers to favor one shoulder when carrying a bag. Over time, the weight of a heavy golf bag can strain the muscles in that shoulder and pull your body out of alignment. This pain may begin in an isolated spot, but it tends to radiate throughout the body with repetitive use and if not given the proper time to heal.
What Percentage of Golfers Have Back Problems?
Studies have shown that roughly 25% of all golfers experience back problems, although not all attribute their back issues to playing golf. When you look at the stats, approximately 34.5% of all golf-related injuries have to do with the back. While carrying a golf bag can contribute to this high level of back injury and chronic low back pain, it may surprise you to learn that there are lots of other factors involved as well.
The way that a golfer swings, especially with repetition, can add to chronic back issues. Golf is a sport beloved by people of all ages; it is estimated that roughly 25% of all golfers are over the age of 65, further contributing to the likelihood of injury on the course.
With enough factors adding to the likelihood of back pain, golfers should take whatever precautions they can to minimize the risk of further injury. One easy way to do this is to opt for less physically-demanding methods to haul your golf bag around the course.
Which Option Should You Use Instead?
The next time you pack your golf bag and head out onto the green, here are a few options to consider instead of the traditional single shoulder strap carrying method.
If you are a diehard fan of carrying your bag, at least make sure you do it in the most innovative, health-conscious way possible.
Invest in a two-strap carrying system, sometimes called a dual-strap system. These straps allow you to distribute the weight of your pack equally between your shoulders, which can minimize the risk of damage. Typically, this type of setup can be put on like a backpack.
If you are going to carry your golf bag, a durable, lightweight bag is a worthwhile investment. The quality of equipment you choose really can have significant implications for your health.
Use a Trolley
Skip the risk of back injury from carrying your bag altogether by using a trolley. These handy devices do all the carrying for you, allowing you to haul even more equipment around the course with ease. While it may take a little longer to get from hole to hole, your back and shoulders will undoubtedly thank you.
Plus, it turns out that carrying your bag doesn't burn many more calories than what you burn using a trolley. Pushing or pulling a trolley requires physical endurance as well, but with less strain on your body. It's a win-win.
Opt for a Cart
A Cart is an excellent option for golfers who need assistance getting around the course or even those who need rest from the walking. While using a cart limits the physical health benefits of golf, buggies make the sport more equitable and allow players of all ages and abilities to join in.
You don't need to choose between your health and your love of golf. If you struggle with or want to avoid back pain, consider alternatives to carrying your golf bag.
This way, you can still reap all the health benefits of this incredible sport and leave the back issues behind you.