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Limited Hip Mobility and Core Weakness: Causes of Lower Back Pain in Golfers

by Athletico2 Comments

With the golf season now in full swing, many golfers may be experiencing some aches and pains from the first several rounds of the course. Low back pain is a specifically common aliment among golfers.  Low back pain can be caused by numerous factors, but two areas of deficit are common culprits to low back pain among golfers.

Two Reasons for Low Back Pain in Golfers

  1. The first culprit is limited hip mobility, especially hip internal rotation.

    Internal hip rotation involves a rotation of the head of the femur (thigh bone) into the hip socket. On the backswing of a right handed golfer, the right hip will travel into internal rotation, and then on the follow-through, the left hip will travel into internal rotation. If your hips are stiff into internal rotation, it can then cause strain up into the low back as the body attempts to compensate for this lack of mobility.

  2. Another common cause of low back pain is poor trunk control and core weakness.

    Core weakness results in increased strain into the joints within the low back during rotational movements associated with the golf swing. Core weakness can also result in deficits maintaining good posture throughout the golf swing. Inconsistent contact and poorly struck golf shots is usually the result.

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A recent case report published in Hospital for Special Surgery Journal described a golfer with low back pain due to limited internal hip rotation, range of motion and core weakness. He was treated by a physical therapist to improve hip range of motion and core strength. After several visits the physical therapist not only resolved his back pain, but also was able to decrease his handicap by three strokes.  This report emphasizes the importance of maintaining good hip mobility and core strength if you are an avid golfer.

Here are some hip stretching exercises to help further improve your hip internal rotation range of motion:

Windshield wipers:

Lay on your back with both knees bent. Spread your feet about shoulder width apart and then let one knee fall toward the opposite foot.  Repeat on each side and make sure to not push into any pinching type of pain.

Windshield wiper startgolf stretch windshield wiper start

Windshield wiper finishgolf stretch windshield wiper finish

Hip Drivers:

Stand with both hands against the wall and your feet about 1-2 feet from the wall. Keep your left foot planted and facing the wall, and then take your right leg, leading with your knee, and bring it up toward your left hand that is on the wall. This will help improve left hip internal rotation range of motion. Then repeat in the opposite sequence to improve right hip internal rotation range of motion.

Right hip driver to improve left hip internal rotation range of motion:Right hip driver range of motion

Left hip driver to improve right hip internal rotation range of motion
Left hip driver range of motion

Here are some core stabilization exercises:


Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Then contract your core muscles and bring your bottom off the ground until you are in a full bridge position. Pause at the top briefly and then slowly lower back to the start position.

Bridge start:Golf stretch bridge start

Bridge finish:Golf stretch bridge end

Bird Dog:

On a hands and knees position, tighten your core and then slowly reach out your right arm and kick out your left leg.  Make sure to keep your core tight and back still while moving your arms and legs.  Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

Bird Dog Startgolf stretch bird dog start

Bird Dog Finishgolf stretch bird dog finish

Tipping Birds:

Stand on one leg and then tighten your core while bending forward, hinging over the leg that you are standing on. Your low back and opposite leg should be in straight alignment during this exercise. Bend forward until a slight stretch is felt and then return slowly back to the start position.

Tipping Bird start:tipping bird start golf stretch

Tipping Bird finish:tipping bird finish golf stretch


If you would like to see an Athletico physical therapist about lower back pain or other golf injuries, please use the button below to schedule a complimentary injury screen at a clinic near you.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

Reinhardt G. The role of decreased hip IR as a cause of low back pain in a golfer: a case report.  HSSJ 2013; 9:278-283.

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  1. john cannata

    great exercises in the golf section very impressed with the core and lower back work appreciate any information that could improve your golf swing and eliminate lower back pain thank you

  2. BackpainHC

    It’s really helpful and informative. A gentle home exercise program that focuses on core strengthening is going to be your best bet.

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