PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - It's one of the greatest comeback stories in sports history. Tiger Woods winning the Masters after spinal fusion surgery has been cheered worldwide.
"I could barely walk," said Woods following his win at Augusta. "I couldn't sit. I couldn't lay down. I couldn't do much of anything."
Woods had a long road back is also a cautionary tale to golfers of all handicaps. In an article published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, three Valley doctors warn that as golfers swing harder, they increase their risk of serious back injuries.
"We see with young players. They're much more fit," said Dr. Randall Porter, MD. "They're swinging harder and imparting much more force on their spine when they swing the golf club."
Porter is an avid golfer himself. He. Dr. Corey T. Walker and Dr. Juan S. Uribe say that golf has evolved over the last two decades. Golfers are applying more force when they swing the club. The downswing, greater force is directed toward the spinal disc and facet joints, causing repeated minor traumatic injuries to the spine. Over time, this may result in RTD, "repetitive traumatic discopathy."
"Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, they went their whole career without a single, seemingly shoulder or wrist injury. Clearly, they weren't swinging as hard," said Porter.
The study has been featured in Golf Digest.
"The message is don't swing so hard," said Dr. Porter. "Go to a personal trainer. Stretch appropriately and consider using the classic golf swing."