Are you Hitting the Links? Golfing Can Be an Effective Arthritis Treatment

Golf involves many joints and movements —ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, wrists — so you might think arthritis would put an end to your time on the links. Not the case!

With the right conditioning, equipment, and attitude, you should be able to enjoy many years of golfing, which like so many other forms of exercise, can actually be beneficial to your joints. It’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise routine or sport, but here are some tips on how people with arthritis can golf safely.

Use the Right Equipment

First, there are some joint-friendly equipment adjustments you can make before you even hit the green.

  • Clubs: Use clubs that are better at absorbing shock, such as those with lightweight graphite shafts and perimeter-weighted heads. Lighten your load by leaving behind clubs that you don’t typically use.
  • Bag: If you don’t have a wheeled golf bag, consider getting one. Using a cart is also a good option.
  • Balls: Use lower compression balls — that is, ones that are softer— so there is less of a jolt to your joints when you hit them. 
  • Longer tees: These help you stand taller and reduce the chance of hitting the ground accidentally and jarring your joints.
  • Shoes: A good, supportive golf shoe can make a huge difference. Do some research, then try on different pairs to find the most suitable ones.
  • Gloves: There are gloves designed specifically for people with hand arthritis. They have extra padding to absorb some of the shock when club meets ball. Do your research because there are a lot of choices.
  • Grips: Oversized golf grips are easier on arthritic hands because it takes less strength to hold the club. You can increase the girth of your grip with athletic tape, or you can attach a custom grip.

Warming Up is a Must

A pre-game conditioning program is essential for every golfer, whether or not you suffer from arthritis. Warming up the muscles by stretching and doing range-of-motion exercises should be the prelude to your 18 holes. Start with a brisk 10-minute walk, then move on to some range-of-motion exercises. Finish your warm-up by taking 10-15 slow, three-quarter swings on the practice range.

Read here about 13 warm-up exercises to do before you hit the green, including:

  • Arm Circles: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and then extend your arms so they’re parallel to the ground. Start with small circles, then gradually widen them. Reverse direction.
  • Kneeling/Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch: Place your left knee on the floor and your right foot flat in front of you with your leg bent at a 90-degree angle. Shift your weight slightly forward and hold. Switch legs.
  • Hamstring Stretch: Place a golf club behind your shoulders and grasp each end with your hands. Put your left heel on a step or chair in front of you, keeping the leg straight, and lean forward at the waist. Rotate your body to the left and hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and now rotate your body to the right. Repeat 2-3 times on each side. 
  • Standing Hip Circles: Stand on your right leg and lift your left leg off the floor, keeping it straight. Make 20 small, clockwise circles with the left leg, then 20 counter-clockwise ones. Switch to the other leg and repeat.

Now have a great round!

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