Back Pain Can’t Keep Tiger Woods From The Masters

Tiger Woods will end his nine week hiatus from professional golf this week as he prepares to tee up for the Masters.

Tiger’s 2015 season got off to a rough start when he missed the cut in his first event and withdrew from his second event with back pain. After withdrawing in his second tournament, Tiger decided to take some time off to get his head and health in the right position to complete for a major championship.

I actually predicted that Tiger would take some time off after withdrawing from a tournament in early February. After that tournament, Tiger had withdrawn from 7 of his last 9 tournaments, which is unheard of in today’s game. Instead of continuing to play through the pain and just hoping things got better, Tiger decided to step away from the game and focus on getting his body right.

When asked about his rehab and strength conditioning leading up to the Masters, Woods said that he “worked his ass off. That’s the easiest way to kind of describe it. I worked hard.”

Tiger Woods Masters

The Importance of Exercise As We Age

Exercise is important at any age, but it’s even more important as we get older. Tiger Woods turns 40-years-old this year, and he can no longer get by on his talent alone, especially when his body is breaking down from years of strenuous twisting and torquing. He’s had documented problems with his back, knees and shoulder, and although he would ideally take more than nine weeks off, he made the right choice to leave the tour and re-work his health and his game.

As I always tell my patients, there is no magical pill or injection that will completely cure you of your condition. Many options provide short-term or temporary relief, but patients also need to put in work in the form of exercise, physical therapy and rehabilitation. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it. This quote from Woods perfectly exemplifies that notion.

“People would never understand how much work I put into it to come back and do this again,” Woods said. “But it was sunup to sundown, and whenever I had free time; if the kids were asleep, I’d still be doing it, and then when they were in school, I’d still be doing it. So it was a lot of work.”

Despite his return to the course, I stand by my prediction from back in February. I believe Woods is more likely to withdraw or miss the cut than to be in serious contention in Sunday. Based on his quotes, it truly sounds like his health and his game are in their best forms of the year, but he’s still not 100%. I believe the tournament means a lot to Tiger, and barring significant back pain, I think he’ll go without withdrawing at Augusta, but the competition is fierce, and I just think Tiger will be fighting to make the cut instead of trying to get in Sunday’s final grouping. I wish him and the rest of the field the best of luck at the Masters this weekend.

Related source: Bloomberg

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Thomas Cohn, MD

Interventional pain doctor helping Minnesotans manage back, neck, foot, and other pain. Board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with additional board-certification in pain management from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA), the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians (ABIPP) and the American Board of Pain Medicine (ABPM).

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