Back Spasms – The Truth About Tiger Woods’ Back!

As many of you may have read today, Tiger Woods has withdrawn from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic due to back spasms. After watching and reading some of the coverage today, I knew it was time to shed some light on what Mr. Woods is likely experiencing.

Earlier this week I evaluated a patient that had a mircodiscectomy in the same area as Mr. Woods. The patient and I discussed one key issue – the patient no longer has “normal” anatomy. This means a critical piece of the spine’s stabilization system has been removed. To illustrate, it is similar to performing a lobotomy for your lower back.

For further understanding, here is a video clip on how a mircodiscectomy is performed. (

Mr. Woods has undergone this procedure twice with an additional back surgery. That is three invasions of the spine. From a physical therapy stand point, it is amazing he can walk 18 holes much less swing a golf club repeatedly.

Additionally, Mr. Woods has accelerated the normal wear and tear of the spine. Contrary to popular belief, the lumbar spine is built on stability and moves very little. Aberrant (abnormal) movement in his lumbar spine causes his brain to interpret the movement as an instability. His body then guards against this by tightening or going into spasm.

I hope this helpful. Please post any questions or comments you may have. Take care of your spine, you only get ONE!

In health,

Felipe J. Mares, PT, DPT, ATC, CAFS


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