As we bask in the longest heatwave since 1976, this summer has also brought a wealth of sporting favourites, which we are continuing to enjoy as we soak up the sunshine. First came the football World Cup, followed by the opening of the tennis championship, Wimbledon, and the British Open Golf at Carnoustie in Scotland. As with all sports, there are those of us who love to watch and some of us who love to participate, and with any sporting hobby comes the risk for participants that we may suffer from wear and tear on the body parts that are in regular use with these pursuits.
Golfing is no exception to this. Golfers will often walk in excess of five miles around an average course, while carrying heavy golfing bags and using a significant amount of core strength in pursuit of the perfect drive. Although there are many health benefits associated with golf, it puts unavoidable strain on particular muscles, joints and ligaments over time as well.
The early warning signs of arthritis are decreased mobility when taking your swing (a motion that any golfer will tell you uses the whole body to perfection, but your hips are an integral part of this action), coupled with aching in the hands or wrists, trouble bending down to pick up the ball or pain when lifting your golf bag onto your trolley. Not only that, walking the full course may become increasingly painful if you are starting to develop problems in your knee or hip joints.
If you believe you may be suffering from hip arthritis and you’re a keen golfer, although this may not be the best news you’ve had, it certainly does not mean the end of your golfing pursuits. There are a number of ways you can continue getting pleasure from golf, even if you’re starting to feel the tell-tale signs of arthritis creeping in.
Golf and hip arthritis: warm up properly first
This advice may take you straight back to school PE lessons, where the class were instructed to warm up properly (and warm down again afterwards) when undertaking any form of exercise, but this continues to be solid advice. It is good for everyone as it helps prepare the body for exercise and reduced the chance of sustaining an injury, but for people suffering from joint pain, a gentle warm-up is highly recommended.
Golf and hip arthritis: make adjustments to your swing
This may sound easier said than done, especially if you have spent years perfecting your technique, but this could make the difference between having to retire from golf and continuing to enjoy it. Assuming you’re a right-handed golfer, when taking your swing, your left foot will be angled out somewhat, to give you the balance required to take it effectively. If you also turn your right foot outwards, this can significantly reduce the strain on your right hip and lower back. Lifting your left heel up as you take the swing will also help alleviate some of the pressure on your hip joints.
Golf and hip arthritis: change your golf balls
The density of the balls you’re using can also have a big impact on how much ‘kick back’ you get when your club makes contact with them. Lower compression balls are recommended for people who are suffering from joint problems like arthritis, as they absorb much more of the energy and take the impact away from the joints.
Remember, golfing is a great source of exercise and when undertaken correctly, can continue to be something you can enjoy and benefit from, even if your joints are experiencing some difficulties. Joint arthritis doesn’t mean the road to golfing retirement, but it is your body’s way of telling you that you need to make some small changes to continue getting the best from it.
If your golf game is still suffering, call 020 8947 9524 to arrange a consultation with a hip arthritis specialist.