Tiger Woods Pushed Through Back Spasms On The Golf Course. But Is It Safe?

Tiger Woods' 2024 season got off to a challenging start as he returned to the PGA Tour this week after nearly a year away. The athlete explained that he began experiencing back spasms while playing the last few holes of the Riviera Country Club event — back spasms that launched his ball into a cluster of trees during the 18th hole (via ESPN). Recounting the incident, Woods told the outlet, "Well, my back was spasming the last couple holes and it was locking up." Ultimately, Woods completed the round with a score of 1-over 72. This weekend, however, he'll have the chance to redeem himself.

Woods is not unfamiliar with back spasms. Following an automobile accident in 2021 that left the star with fractures in his right leg and a severely injured ankle (via NBC Sports), Woods received fusion surgery in April of 2023 for post-traumatic arthritis. The 48-year-old champion stated that while he experienced back spasms during his recovery, it had been quite some time since a spasm came on during a game.

Pushing through back spasms can exacerbate physical pain

Lower back spasms also caused Woods to pull out during the final round of the Honda Classic back in 2014 (per NBC Sports). Experts at the Keystone Spine & Pain Management Center weighed in on the event after the fact, writing on their website how Woods was right to do so as back spasms should not be ignored. Taking as many as six weeks to heal, rest, and recover is key when it comes to back spasms. During this rest period, stretching, physical therapy, and non-anabolic steroid use may be advised.

Among the most common injuries in the sports world, back spasms are characterized by abrupt involuntary muscle contractions that occur within the spinal region, according to Advent Health Medical Group. No matter how dedicated an athlete you may be, however, medical experts say one should never push through back spasms. Doing so may exacerbate the pain and prolong the recovery period. Rather, athletes are advised to promptly stop the activity. "As far as the physical ups and downs, that's just part of my body, that's part of what it is. ... I'm going to be rusty, and I have to do a better job at home prepping," Woods stated (via Yahoo! Sports). This included the athlete reaffirming his commitment to abiding by rehabilitation protocols.