Golf season is in full swing. But golf injuries are far too common and can make or break your score. While back pain is the most common pain felt by golfers, any body part can be affected. If you feel pain, your score will reflect it.

One common misconception is that if you have pain - in the back or elsewhere - you should stretch. Most of the time you need strengthening, not stretching.

While some stretches should be performed, strengthening exercises will help avoid injury.

The stronger the specific muscles used in golf are, the farther you will be able to drive the ball and the greater your precision will be - and the more likely you'll be to avoid injury.

1. The plank. This will improve strength in your abdominals. This increased strength will give your back support and allow you to drive farther.

Lie on your stomach and prop yourself up on your elbows. Then in a push-up motion, hold yourself up using your toes and your forearms. It should be a straight line from the forearms to the head and from the heels to your head. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat four times. Be sure to contract the abdominals and not let your stomach sag.

2. The side plank. Training all aspects of your abdominals will help protect your low back from injury. It will also help with your accuracy and how far you hit the ball. Lie on either side with your body in a straight line. In a push-up motion, push yourself up onto your feet and elbow so that your body is supported with your foot and forearm. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat four times on both sides.

3. The reverse plank. Sit on the floor and, straightening your body, push up onto your hands and your heels. Hold for 30 seconds, four times.

4. Shoulder external rotation. Lie on either side with your arm resting on your side. Bend your elbow to 90 degrees. Starting with your arm lying across your stomach and keeping your elbow on your side, rotate your arm upwards. Repeat 30 times. Weight may be added if you can do 30 without difficulty. Do both sides.

5. Single-leg stance. This is as it sounds. Stand on one leg and close your eyes. You may do it on a pillow if you can stand for 30 seconds with eyes closed. Do 10 on each leg as long as you can.

6. Hip abduction. Standing on a stair, lift one leg straight out to the side. Try to perform 30 on each leg without having the foot in the air touch the floor.

7. Sleeper stretch. Lie on one side with the arm that you are lying on brought up to 90 degrees. Gently apply pressure to the back of the hand, trying to get the palm to touch the ground. Hold for 30 seconds, six times each side.

8. Hip figure-4 stretch. Lie on your back and cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Pull the knee that the ankle is crossed over toward the chest. Hold 30 seconds and perform six times.

Do these three-four times a week for optimal health and golf performance!

Heather Moore, D.P.T., owns Total Performance Physical Therapy in North Wales. She has worked on the PGA and LPGA Tours as a physical therapist.