Arthritis and the Golfer
Studies have shown that at least 40% of golfers will play with injuries this upcoming season. Most injuries occur in the lower back, elbows or shoulders. In addition, if you have arthritis (the most common type being osteoarthritis) your hands, hips, knees, neck or lower back can be affected too.
To get ready for the season and keep playing, follow these tips to help prepare your body for play, help prevent injuries, and keep yourself as comfortable as possible.
Start a conditioning program. If possible, meet with your golf professional or golf-specific physical therapist before the season to create a conditioning program that is easy to work into your daily routine. There are certified professionals who understand the injured or arthritic golfers’ issues and can help.
Maintain your target weight. Overweight players put significant impact loads on various joints causing pain and worsening arthritis.
Do some warm-up exercises before teeing off. Warm up exercises can be as simple as a brisk 5- to 10-minute walk or light jog prior to going to the practice range, or be specific to you-- one that our golf performance program experts can develop.
Stay well hydrated. Your body is typically in a dehydrated state in the morning; therefore, it is helpful to drink 1-1/2 bottles of water (about 25 fluid ounces) in the morning before your round and about 3 bottles during your round. Please check with your physician if you have medical conditions that restrict fluid intake.
Eat before playing. Try to eat a small meal one to two hours before play or practice. A large meal in your stomach moves blood away from your brain and muscles affecting play and performance. Low-fat, lean protein, and complex carbohydrate foods are preferred.
Use golf aids to minimize pain and impact on joints. Aids, including oversized grips (if you have hand arthritis) or spike-less golf shoes, will help reduce the increased rotational stress on hips, knees and ankles in the typical golf swing. There are an assortment of unloading braces (for arthritic knees) to minimize pain during the golf swing.
Walk part of the course. Try to limit your time riding in a golf cart. If you are able, switch walking or riding with your partner every hole. That will help protect your back muscles from spasms during the constant bounce of a cart in a round.
Stay hydrated. Hydrate with water or sports drinks that do NOT contain high fructose corn syrup. Avoid alcoholic beverages, especially during hot, humid days, as those and drinks containing high fructose corn syrup can cause your gout to flare up.
Use sunscreen. Use sunscreen (an SPF 30 will do) and wear a hat. The incidence of skin cancer in golfers is on the rise!
Eat healthy snacks. We encourage snacks that are high in carbohydrates but low in fat, such as bananas, dried fruits (raisins, cherries, cranberries), energy bars with whole grains (wheat or oats), and nuts such as almonds or peanuts.
Do some static stretching exercises. Static stretching exercises performed after your golf round may be beneficial (but not before a round).
Apply ice. Ice down painful or recently injured areas for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not apply heat to an affected area, as heat increases circulation and inflammation (swelling).
Eat and rehydrate. Eat and rehydrate within two hours of a round of golf. This replaces the stores of glycogen (our bodies primarily source of energy) in the muscles and liver to speed a full recovery and for optimal performance the next day.
Have a great time; it is going to be an awesome golf season.