The evening before a round with an important client or a tee time at St. Andrews
, your back starts acting up. There is no way you're not playing. Back specialist Boyd Bender, a certified physical therapist, offers his cures for three levels of back pain that will give you your best chance of making it around all 18 holes
If approved by your physician, take the recommended dose of over-the-counter ibuprofen or naproxen sodium before you go to bed and again in the morning. In addition, apply ice to the area once an hour for 15 minutes the night before as needed. In the morning, apply a heat wrap, and walk for 20 to 30 minutes to warm up the body. You should stretch your hips and lower back, but don't overdo any stretch involving the sore area. Keep your range time short, and make slower, smoother swings. Avoid sitting as much as possible. If you do, get lumbar support (a pillow) and avoid softer or backless chairs.
The mistake most people make is trying to treat the spasm but not the cause of the spasm. Avoid any deep-tissue massaging of the area where the pain is felt. Instead, relax the spine the night before by lying on your back as if you were sitting in a chair (legs elevated and bent). It's a good idea to apply ice to the area (15 minutes, max) as often as you can, and take ibuprofen or naproxen sodium as recommended by your doctor. Carefully stretch the morning of the round, and activate the hip and glute muscles by doing squats while holding onto the edge of a counter. Also limit your range time.
If you own a back brace, use it. If not, wrap your back with an elastic bandage or anchor a large towel around it with a belt. Don't sit down. If you can see a doctor, ask for a painkiller such as acetaminophen with codeine. To stretch the lumbar region (lower spine), bend your upper body over a table and let the weight of your legs hang (toes touching). Sleep on your back on a firm mattress or on the floor. In the morning, activate your glute muscles by squeezing them hard, repeatedly. If the back pain is severe and you can't control bodily functions or motor skills, don't play. Get to a hospital. Now!
Jump Start: Better Cardio For Golf
For a killer cardio workout that will turn you into a pile of goo, start jumping, says Golf Digest fitness expert Randy Myers. Jumping improves stability and power in the golf swing. Try this routine:
Single-Leg Lateral Jump
Stand on one leg and leap to the side, trying to land on the other leg without falling over. Quickly leap back to the other side. Do this for 30 seconds. Rest for 30, and start again, completing five sets.
Standing Broad Jump
From an athletic posture (knees bent, leaning forward), jump as far as you can without stumbling. Turn around and jump back. Do this for 30 seconds. Rest for 30, and repeat, completing five sets. As you improve, add an obstacle to jump on or over. Sam Snead (right) enjoyed showing off his vertical leap.