Curing a bad back in golf

Coach Joey Diovisalvi
Joey D Golf
Coach Joey Diovisalvi -- "Joey D" -- is a golf fitness expert who works with many of the game's top players. Here he demonstrates one of the many exercises you can do to keep a bad back at bay.
By T.J. Auclair
Connect with T.J.

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 | 4:05 p.m.

As we've seen the last two weeks on the PGA Tour, world No. 1 Tiger Woods has suffered mightily with back spasms.

Two weeks ago at the Honda Classic, back spasms forced Woods to withdraw from the tournament 13 holes into the final round.

And just last week at Trump National Doral, Woods entered the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship just three shots out of the lead, but his back flared up yet again. He finished the tournament this time, but a closing 6-over-par 78 -- his worst score ever at Doral -- resulted in a tie for 25th, nine shots behind the winner.

RELATED: Tiger 'intends to be at Bay Hill' | Should Tiger play Masters with bad back? | Tiger WDs

Though the large majority of us are in nowhere close to the physical condition of Woods, surely there are many of us that can relate to back pain on the golf course.

Believe it or not, there are measures you can take to stop the back pain before it even starts.

We reached out to Coach Joey Diovisalvi -- aka "Joey D" -- for some help.

Joey D runs Joey D Golf in Jupiter, Fla. If anyone knows the body of a golfer, it's Joey D. His resume includes work with Vijay Singh, Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Pat Perez, Jesper Parnevik, Corey Pavin, Jason Dufner, Tom Pernice, Jr. and Brad Faxon, just to name a few.

Joey D's clients account for over 30 professional victories and countless top-10 finishes.

Here are six exercises Joey D recommended:

1. Pike Walk/Hamstring Stretch

  1. Begin by standing with your feet together in an upright position with your arms extended over your head.
  2. Slowly, engage your core and feel your core tighten as you reach down towards your feet. Focus on maintaining good posture through this movement to create tension in the back of your legs.
  3. If you cannot reach your feet, begin to lean forward until your hands make contact with the floor and, keeping your core engaged, walk your hands away from your feet until you are near a push up position. Continue to tighten your core through this movement.
  4. Hold that position for a second and, continuing to engage your core, begin to walk the feet back towards your hands until you are near your previous position, you should again feel a pull in your hamstrings as you stretch them again. Slowly engage your low back muscles extending your hip back to the set up position.

Note: It is essential that you keep your legs as straight as you can throughout this movement. Having the knees bent relieves tension in your hamstrings voiding the stretch. If you cannot walk your feet back to your hands, separate the legs so they are wider then your shoulders during stage 4 until you can stand up.

Golf Thought: This movement also loosens the muscles of your lower back and hamstrings while engaging the core. The strong muscles of the legs and back allow the body to maintain proper spine angle and knee flexion during the entire golf swing.

  • Muscle Use: Hamstrings, Erector Spinae, Abdominals, Pectorals
  • Perform 1 set of 12 repetitions, Monday, Wednesday, Friday.


2. Hip Opener

  1. Maintaining awareness of your balance, flex the knee and hip until you can rest your foot on the opposite knee. Extend your arms at chest level and bring your fingers together.
  2. Simultaneously, engage your shoulders to separate the arms bringing them back even with your body parallel to the ground, and turn the knee to face beside you. You should really feel the hip opening up as the leg begins to separate from the midline creating a light stretch on the inside of the hip. After each rep, lower the engaged leg, take another step, and continue the movement to the other side.

Golf Thought: Stretching the hip is vital to the golf swing to really allow the body to feel separation during the back and follow through of the swing. Tight hips provide negative impacts to the Golf Body.

  • Muscle Use: Hip Adductors, Hip Abductors, Tibialis Anterior, Deltoids
  • Perform 1 set of 12 repetitions, Monday, Wednesday, Friday.


3. 10-2 Roll

  1. Lie on your back on a comfortable surface and place your legs on a 65-cm exercise ball. Dig your heels firmly into the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock, position pulling the ball against the thigh. Extend your arms our to your sides with palms facing the ground.
  2. Slowly, rotate the ball to one side bringing your outside leg into contact with the ground. You should feel your core engage as you rotate and create separation between your hips and your shoulders. Return your legs to the beginning position and continue to the opposite side.

Golf Thought: This drill really allows the body to feel how the hips and shoulders create separation in the golf swing.

  • Muscle Use: Abdominals, Lats, Pectorals
  • Perform 1-2 sets of 12 repetitions


4. One leg over

  1. Lie on your back on a comfortable surface and place your right leg on a 65-centimeter exercise ball with your left leg extended on the ground. Dig your heel firmly into the 1 o’clock, position pulling the ball against the thigh. With the ball in position extend your arms to your side with palms on the ground.
  2. Slowly begin to rotate the leg across your body allowing the ball to roll over your left leg. You should feel your core engage as you rotate and create separation between your hips and your shoulders. Continue as far as your body allows before your hands come off of the ground. Return the legs back to the neutral upright position, and continue reps before switching legs.

Golf Thought: This drill really allows the body to feel how the hips and shoulders create separation in the Golf Swing while actively stretching the muscles of the core.

  • Muscle Use: Abdominals, Lats, Pelvic Stabilizers
  • Perform 1-2 sets of 12 repetitions


5. Dead Bug

  • Lie on your back on a comfortable surface with your palms on the ground beside your hips and your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor.
  • Engage the core and tighten the glutes as you press your lower back into the ground. Hold for 3 seconds, and release.

Golf Thought: Dead Bug is a dynamic movement that strengthens the core and increase pelvic mobility simultaneously. Both of these moves are essential to power in rotation and maintaining proper spine angle during the Golf Swing.

  • Muscle Use: Rectus Abdominals, Transverse Abdominals, Gluteals, Erector Spinae
  • Perform 1-2 sets of 12 repetitions


6. Bridge

  • Lie on your back on a comfortable surface. Feet are flat on the floor. Make sure ankle and knee are in a straight line. If possible try to touch finger tips to the back of your heel. Shoulders should feel in a secure position on the floor. Head and neck remain down and supported throughout the movement.
  • Slowly drive gluteus muscles (buttocks) and low back upward to a neutral pelvis and spine position, forming straight line from shoulders to knees. All your weight should be in your upper back and shoulder. Hold for a count of 3. Drop body back down to start position and repeat.

Golf Thought: Activating quadriceps, gluteus and mid-back to create a more powerful upper body connection.

  • Muscle Use: Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Glutes, Erector Spine, Abdominals, Spinalis Thoracis, Quadratus Lumborum
  • Perform 1-2 sets of 12 repetitions


If you're interested in learning more about Coach Joey D's Tour-proven, game-changing golf fitness programs, visit Follow Coach Joey D on Twitter, @CoachJoeyD.

You can also purchase follow-along-at-home DVDs by clicking here.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.