If golf is something you think you’ll have to give up because of your arthritis, don’t give up just yet. There are many benefits to golfing with arthritis. To begin, it keeps you active. Golfing can help increase your strength, the range of motion in your joints and your mobility. It can also improve your balance and coordination, as well as help to maintain or decrease your weight. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and the company of other people.
You’ll want to do your research though and proceed cautiously. Golf can be very physically demanding and as with all forms of activity, it is important to learn how you can protect your joints. Prepare your joints by warming them up first to help prevent strains and tears. This is true for everyone but even more important when you have arthritis. Your joints and the surrounding tissue may have changed as a result of your arthritis. How you hold things, carry things, walk or move may have changed too. When warming up, start slowly and build up gradually. To be most effective, the warm up should be done just before teeing off.
You may also want to get advice from a golf professional. By making modifications to your stance, your swing or your footwork, you may be able to do just as well (or better) with much less strain on your joints. At one of our golfing and arthritis workshops, one of the golf instructors teed up his ball and tapped it. It seemed like such a light shot, yet that ball went 200 feet straight down the fairway. He made a very good point. It wasn’t how hard he hit, it was about proper technique.
A golf professional can guide you through helpful modifications to your equipment too. More flexible shafts, changing the length of your club, modifying the grip or how you grip the club are a few of the changes that can help your game and your arthritis at the same time. Protect your hand joints by wearing gloves on both hands or use thumb or wrist splints; protect your feet, knees and hips by wearing comfortable walking shoes possibly without spikes, or wear cushioning in your shoes or a knee brace. Take the weight off by only carrying the clubs you will need or use a golf cart. There are many adaptations you can make to protect your neck, shoulders and back too.
At a golfing and arthritis workshop hosted by the Kelowna Arthritis Centre, a young woman registered who had never golfed before. She was a tennis player with a form of arthritis that was restricting the side to side movement in her ankle. She came “just to give this a try to see if it was something she might be able to do instead of tennis”. She took her time, warming up, choosing her club, getting advice with her stance and her swing, she took a few easy practice shots, and then she hit her first ball. It went beautifully straight down the fairway. We all watched, then cheered. “I think I just might be able to do this” she said.
If you’re worried about giving up your game, you might just “be able to do this” too with a little guidance and some modifications to your game. For more tips on golfing with arthritis, see http://www.arthritis.org/golf.php
Trudy Battaglio has her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Political Science (Community Development). Trudy is Manager of Education & Services with The Arthritis Society in the Interior, BC, and manages The Arthritis Society’s Kelowna Arthritis Centre.
For more information about arthritis and The Arthritis Society - www.arthritis.ca
Thanks Kelowna – You Helped Us to Raise $21,000 for Arthritis Research and Programming at the Walk to Fight Arthritis
Kerry Park - June 10, 2012