Risk Factors Associated With Low Back Pain in Golfers: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Sports Health. 2018 Nov/Dec;10(6):538-546. doi: 10.1177/1941738118795425. Epub 2018 Aug 21.


Context:: Low back pain is common in golfers. The risk factors for golf-related low back pain are unclear but may include individual demographic, anthropometric, and practice factors as well as movement characteristics of the golf swing.

Objective:: The aims of this systematic review were to summarize and synthesize evidence for factors associated with low back pain in recreational and professional golfers.

Data sources:: A systematic literature search was conducted using the PubMed, CINAHL, and SPORTDiscus electronic databases through September 2017.

Study selection:: Studies were included if they quantified demographic, anthropometric, biomechanical, or practice variables in individuals with and without golf-related low back pain.

Study design:: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Level of evidence:: Level 3.

Data extraction:: Studies were independently reviewed for inclusion by 2 authors, and the following data were extracted: characterization of low back pain, participant demographics, anthropometrics, biomechanics, strength/flexibility, and practice characteristics. The methodological quality of studies was appraised by 3 authors using a previously published checklist. Where possible, individual and pooled effect sizes of select variables of interest were calculated for differences between golfers with and without pain.

Results:: The search retrieved 73 articles, 19 of which met the inclusion criteria (12 case-control studies, 5 cross-sectional studies, and 2 prospective longitudinal studies). Methodological quality scores ranged from 12.5% to 100.0%. Pooled analyses demonstrated a significant association between increased age and body mass and golf-related low back pain in cross-sectional/case-control studies. Prospective data indicated that previous history of back pain predicts future episodes of pain.

Conclusion:: Individual demographic and anthropometric characteristics may be associated with low back pain, but this does not support a relationship between swing characteristics and the development of golf-related pain. Additional high-quality prospective studies are needed to clarify risk factors for back pain in golfers.

Keywords: biomechanics; golf; low back pain; risk factors; swing.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Anthropometry
  • Athletes
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Body Mass Index
  • Golf / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors