How to Golf With a Herniated Disc

If you have a herniated disc, chances are that any activity will lead to pain and discomfort. A herniated disc occurs when a fluid-filled disc ruptures or bulges out between the vertebrae it normally cushions, placing pressure on the spine and nerve roots. Most people will not require surgery for a herniated disc, according to the Mayo Clinic, but exercise should be limited to low-impact activities while the back heals. For avid golfers, this may be a difficult prescription. You can still play golf with a moderately herniated disc, but you must be extremely careful to prevent further injury. It's a good idea to consult your doctor about your fitness to play.

Talk to your doctor for clearance to play. You may feel you can play through the pain, but you don't want to turn a moderate injury into a more serious one that later requires surgery. Get a proper diagnosis so you can make an informed decision.

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Take anti-inflammatory medication. This will help alleviate pain and reduce swelling.

Warm up by walking. Don't cheat and say you'll take it easy for the first few holes. Give yourself 20 minutes to prepare your body for your round of golf. Start with a brisk walk to warm your muscles up.

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Continue warming up by proceeding to stretch your major muscle groups. Stretch your back while sitting, not standing. Bending to touch your toes places more stress on your back. Sit down and work through bending forward with your legs in front of you, repeating the stretch with legs both together and apart, and take your back through a full range of motion. Don't stretch past the point of pain.

Play a short course, something that is a par 3 or 4 without many long drives. The farther you have to drive the ball, the more twisting you will do, and the more stress you will place on a herniated disc.

Stop immediately if you suddenly feel sharp pains shooting from your back down to your extremities.

Ice your back immediately after playing.

Rest for at least three days before playing another round. Do low-impact activities in the meantime, including ample stretching. Continue to take NSAIDs as prescribed, and use a heating pad if it helps reduce pain.


Golf with great care if you have a herniated disc. The twisting of long drives may cause more damage. Doctors often recommend refraining from golf or other impact sports until a herniated disc is healed. A six-week hiatus may be preferable to requiring surgery, which may leave you laid up in recovery for three to four months--perhaps even longer.