It’s often thought of as a passive game, but golf could soon be considered a contact sport, according to a new study.

Researchers from Barrow Neurological Institute have discovered that playing golf puts the same pressure on the spine as American football.

In the study, the team focused on how Tiger Woods ’ swing differs from former golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan.

Swing technique has changed significantly over the years, the researchers found.

During the modern downswing, greater compressive force is directed toward the spinal disc and facet joints, affecting these structures asymmetrically.

And with more than 300 wings per day on average, modern day golfers ‘repeatedly experience minor traumatic injuries to the spine’, the researchers revealed.

Over time, this can result in a condition, which the researchers have named ‘repetitive traumatic discopathy.’

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Dr Corey Walker, who led the study, said: “We believe Tiger Wood’s experience with spinal disease highlights a real and under-recognised issue amongst modern era golfers.

“Repetitive traumatic discopathy (RTD) results from years of degenerative ‘hits’ or strains on the spine resulting in early onset breakdown, instability, and pain.

“We hope medical practitioners, and surgeons in particular, will be able to diagnose and treat golfers with RTD in a specialised fashion going forward."

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