How To Play Golf When You Have Sciatica

There’s nothing worse than having a game all lined up, beautiful weather, and then the pain starts before you even get to leave the house. Or maybe your sciatica decides to show up just as you show up to the course. Either way, it’s one pain in the butt, no pun intended.

How to play golf when you have sciatica might be a bit of a challenge at first. And it will depend on what the root cause is and its severity. There are, however, several exercises and practices you can do to limit the adverse effects of sciatica on your golf game.

Adapting to a new way of doing things can be difficult for the best of us. But fear not, we’ve got some great tips, tricks, and exercises you can do to manage and limit your sciatica when out on the course.

how to play golf when you have sciatica

Primary Causes Of Sciatica And Your Golf Game

Sciatica is a term used to describe the pain that begins in the lower back to buttocks and radiates down one or sometimes both legs. The pain can radiate as far as the calf but typically remains in the lower back’s buttocks or thighs.

According to Allan H. Ropper, M.D., and Ross D. Zafonte, D.O., nearly 85% of sciatica cases happen to be associated with what they call a disk disorder.

In simple terms, a slipped or degenerated disk is the most common cause of sciatica. Here’s a snapshot of the most common causes, including disk disorders:

Some Common Causes Of Sciatica

  • Herniated disk aka slipped disk
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pinched Nerve
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Spondylolisthesis

Suppose you are suffering from any spinal injury or other serious ailments or have undiagnosed pain. In that case, you should seek medical advice from a qualified physician before attempting to play golf.

If you are already diagnosed and have the go-ahead with your doctor, then we’ve got some great tips and exercises for you. Let’s take a look at some fantastic pre-game exercises that can help.

Pre-Golf Exercises To Help Relieve Sciatica

One thing holds for every sport, and golf is no exception: A pre-game stretch and warm-up are vital to a successful match. And preventing further injury while out on the course is essential if you don’t want to be wheeled off the course in agony.

According to Richard Staehler, M.D. and Peter Ullrich, M.D., a low-impact aerobic workout performed 30-40 minutes, three or more times per week can help condition the body to allow the person to be more functional and thus allow them to play more golf.

Besides the importance of regular exercise to maintain function, doing particular exercises to help and stretch before you go golfing can prevent sciatic nerve pain from disrupting your game.

There are two groups of stretches we’re going to look at here. First is a group of stretches to do at home before leaving for the course. The second is a group of stretches that you can do once at the course, but before you start your game.

Stretches To Do At Home Before Leaving For Golf

Before you leave the house, try doing some simple lower back and thigh stretches. You don’t want to aggravate things, but you’ve got to get things stretched and warmed up if you intend to avoid further injury.

Lower Back Stretches

An excellent exercise for stretching your lower back is similar to the cat-cow pose in yoga.

  • You get on your knees and hands on the floor and slowly arch your back upwards.
  • Hold the pose for about 10 to 15 seconds and return to the starting position.

Buttocks Stretches

Stretching the piriformis muscle can help to alleviate sciatica due to the loosening of the pelvis.

The stretch to accomplish this is as follows.

  • Lay on your back on the floor.
  • Raise one knee and grab the ankle of that leg with your opposite hand.
  • Pull your angle gently (avoid overdoing it, though) and hold the pose for about 20 seconds.
  • Repeat with the other leg.

Here’s Rich with another static stretch exercise for the Buttocks (Glutes)

static stretch for the glutes

Hamstring Stretches

Try stretching your hamstrings before you leave home.

  • Start by lying on your back on the floor and lift one leg at a time up.
  • Try to straighten it and end up with your heel pointing at the ceiling.
  • Hold this pose for about 10 seconds.
  • Lift and raise your leg slowly so you don’t suddenly pull anything and so you can stop if it starts to hurt.

Only stretch one leg at a time. Do not attempt two legs at once, so it doesn’t hurt your back

Here’s Rich with another static stretch exercise for the Hamstring Muscles

static stretch for the hamstring

Stretches At The golf Course

You could perform these exercises and stretches at the golf course in most cases. That way, your body is fresh and warmed up rather than stretching just to relax for the drive over.

Depending on how long your drive to the course is, it may undo your stretching, so breaking it into two routines isn’t a bad idea.

Here’s Rich to show you a quick warm up routine, with some dynamic stretching exercises, to help us before heading out onto the course

Exercises And Moves To try To Avoid

Several movements and exercises can exaggerate sciatic pain. Several of these may even make the underlying condition worse.

Caution must be exercised when attempting any new exercise and movement when you have severe ailments with your spine.

According to Very Well Health (article by Ann Asher, CPT, medically reviewed by Grant Hughes, MD), a person with sciatica should avoid three things. These are:

  • Moving your leg in a circular motion
  • Double leg lifting
  • or the bent-over row exercise.

Moving your leg in a circular motion can put a strain on your hamstring in a sudden way that might irritate the sciatic nerve. So don’t attempt to swing your legs in circles as a warm-up.

Double-leg lifting doesn’t mean lifting an object from the floor using your legs. It means to sit on something (like the floor or a yoga mat) and lift both your legs off the ground.

This stretch pulls on the areas around the sciatic nerve and can cause exaggerated pain. It is an exercise best left for those with powerful core muscles if it causes you any pain. It’s best to avoid it to be safe.

The bent-over row is the typical weight lifter’s position, bent over to lift weights off the floor with the head tilted upward. It is an exercise to avoid sciatica

Here’s a video showing the bent-over row YOU SHOULD AVOID:

More Static Exercises For Golf

If you need some more ideas of which exercises to stretch take a look at the Get Fit For Golf series that we put together.

11 golf stretches for the Muscles Used in the Golf Swing

Golf is a strange sport in as much as you need to be fit to play your best golf but it doesn’t necessarily make you fit while you are playing it.

There are many things that golfers do to make the game easier for themselves like using a buggy and parking right next to the ball each shot.

But to play your best golf you need to be in as good a condition as your body permits

The Final Say On Golfing With Sciatica

There are two people you need to trust: Your doctor and yourself.

Trust what your body tells you, and always consult a doctor before going golfing with sciatica to ensure that it won’t make things worse.

Once your Doc has given you the green light, try the exercises and stretches I’ve recommended earlier in this article.

They are all sourced from medical professionals, and we all want what’s best for you to get out on the course, so make sure you talk to your doctor about all these stretches and exercises too.

Try to avoid doing any heavy lifting or any other exercise or move that could aggravate the condition.

After all, the goal is to get out on the course, not prevent playing, right? So, take it slow, doing your stretches, and hopefully, I’ll see you out on the course soon!

Happy Golfing

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