Laser Spine Institute’s Dr. Prada shares how Tiger Woods can best recover from back surgery
The golf world has been shaken by the recent news that Tiger Woods is officially pulling out of the Masters to undergo back surgery for a pinched nerve – leaving many questions open about the future of his historic career. Tiger, who will miss the tournament for the first time in more than 20 years, tweaked his back at the Honda Classic last month and has been struggling with back-related issues for several months now, an issue all too common in the sport.
In fact, some reports say that as many as 80 percent of amateur golfers injure their backs at some point in time, yet many continue to play despite their pain, ultimately worsening their conditions. Additionally, a study of injuries among PGA Tour players found that 33 percent battled lower-back pain problems with a duration of greater than two weeks within a 12-month period.
Minimally invasive procedures help countless golfers resume playing the sport they love much faster than with open spine surgeries. For instance, professional golfers Peter Jacobsen and Natalie Gulbis both turned to Laser Spine Institute for relief from their back pain and were ultimately able to return to the game and have successful careers.
According to Laser Spine Institute surgeon, Dr. Stefan Prada, there are several tips golfers, like Tiger, should follow after undergoing back surgery or recovering from back pain:
- Ease back into the game. While you may feel ready to return to the green six weeks after surgery or after suffering a back injury, you should allow enough time to heal before pushing your body and potentially reinjuring your back. You can begin low-impact golf maneuvers such as chipping and putting when first getting back out on the green, but make sure to take it one step at a time and consult with a medical professional first.
- Participate in low-impact exercises. Low-impact exercises, such as yoga, Pilates and swimming, will help strengthen your core and back. You should avoid high-impact activities such as heavy weight training and running, unless it is on an elliptical.
- Listen to your body. When you are first starting to play golf again, it is important to listen to your body because it will tell you if you are doing something too soon. If a certain activity causes you pain, don’t continue to do it. That ultimately means that your body isn’t ready for that move just yet.
- Constantly stretch. Stretch as much as possible to help keep your back loose. One easy to-do stretch that helps increase your back’s flexibility includes crossing your legs and putting your ankle on your knee, and then leaning forward while sitting in the cart.
Overall, if Tiger adheres to these steps, his risk of recurrence of back pain greatly diminishes. Tiger is already in peak physical condition as an athlete, so he is in prime shape to have a smooth recovery and be back competing on the tour at an elite level in no time. Avid golfers should learn from Tiger, Peter and Natalie’s situations. Back pain can happen to anyone if proper attention and precautions aren’t taken to avoid it. Golfers should always be cognizant of their backs and never push their limits if they are feeling discomfort or pain. Follow this guidance and you can enjoy your next time out on the golf course free of pain.