Easy tips for playing golf when you have arthritis

Those who play the game regularly know that golf is a pleasure that's hard to give up.  A golf swing is a total body activity that can be very satisfying. But the twisting and rotation of each stroke can be hard even on people without arthritis.

To play golf with arthritis you'll need to strengthen and improve the mobility of the joints and muscles involved with multiple planes of motion, particularly in the hips and spine.

To help with this strengthening you'll need to get a 20-minute cardiovascular workout, such as brisk walking or cycling, at least three times a week. And at least twice a week, you should do a program of strengthening exercises and stretches. It seems like a lot, but it doesn't have to be: you want a regimen that can be finished in 20 minutes.

Here are some ideas for simple and quick strengthening stretches and strain-lessening strategies.

Easy tips for playing golf when you have arthritis

On the course

Do a pre-round stretch.

Heading to the first tee without first warming up and loosening your joints is a good way to hurt yourself. Take a few minutes before the round begins and do a sequence of stretches that readies your torso for the twisting, your arms for the swinging, your legs for the walking and your neck and shoulders for the straining.

Consider new grips.

Consult with your favourite pro shop or golf store about options for easier-to-handle grips. Re-gripping a set of clubs with larger, spongier grips may be less costly than you think.

Manage your gear.

Tees, ball markers, small pencils and leather gloves are all a part of the game that can be a challenge for people with arthritis. You can't do without most of them, but you can make them easier to access. Try not to keep these things in your pocket, but rather strategically set yourself up, using your bag or your cart for easier access. For example, use a golf glove that has a snap-in ball marker.

Careful with the bending.

In golf, you are constantly picking up or putting down your ball. It's challenging for your back, neck and knees. If reaching to the ground over and over proves challenging, squat rather than bend at the waist.

Focus on the abs.

When bolstering the torso, don't ignore the abdominal muscles, which support the spine and help power the torso: They're among the most neglected muscles among golfers — perhaps one reason the gut is one of the top areas for golf injuries, even among the pros.

Keep these tips in mind to help you enjoy golf with less strain — even if you have arthritis.

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