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Golfing with Arthritis

Golfing with Arthritis

Golfing with Arthritis

How not to let arthritis stifle you golf game.

golf arthritis

Arthritis affects millions of Americans and is most commonly associated with the elderly. However, arthritis can disrupt the lives of young and old alike.

At the age of 39, Phil Mickelson was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. There were days he could barely get out of bed. Psoriatic arthritis can attack suddenly and cause significant pain. Over time, psoriatic arthritis can lead to permanent joint damage and disability. 

However, with the proper treatment, Mickelson was able to resume his daily routine on the PGA Tour, not just the local muni golf course. So, basically, there’s hope.

What is Arthritis? 

There are two main types of arthritis: rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. osteoarthritis is much more common since it’s caused by normal wear and tear on the body as we age, work and play. With rheumatoid arthritis, however, the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint, destroying cartilage and bone, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

In general, arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints and the cartilage between them. Cartilage is extremely important since it protects a joint so bones interact smoothly. In addition, cartilage absorbs the shock and pressure as the result of movement.

Deteriorating cartilage forces bones to rub together resulting in pain, swelling and stiffness. There are currently more than 100 different types of arthritis ranging in severity. Arthritis can lead to chronic pain, disability and difficulty performing daily activities. 

golf arthritis


Typical symptoms of arthritis include pain, swelling and limited movement. Mobility in the joint becomes restricted and the skin around the joint may experience redness. Warmth is sometimes experienced around the joint. Finally, stiffness is often accompanied from arthritis, particularly in the morning. 

arthritis golf

Golf and Arthritis 

While millions are affected by arthritis, research suggests they can safely participate in regular exercise. In fact, even those who suffer from inflammatory arthritis can benefit from moderate intensity and weight-bearing activity.

Activities that combine strengthening and aerobic exercise can reduce symptoms, improve join motion and enhance coordination and balance. Controlling one’s body weight helps not only improves individual health, but also reduces the risk at developing arthritis and typically lessens the pain if one suffers it.

Golf Equipment 

Players who suffer from arthritis should assess their golf equipment. Graphite shafts are a popular choice for those who suffer from arthritis. In addition to a lighter shaft, playing with a graphite shaft could help reduce vibrations in the arms and shoulders. 

arthritis golf

Graphite shafts such as these, even on irons, can help reduce the shock of impact and lessen arthritic pain in golf.

Players who suffer from arthritis in their hands should try an oversize grip.  The oversize grip is thicker than a regular grip and will not place as much pressure and tension on the hands and fingers while they wrap around a smaller grip. 

Treatments Before and After Golf 

Arthritis can be extremely painful and make normal activities difficult. Treatment can help reduce pain, improve function and prevent further joint damage. Take anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin to relieve arthritis pain. Consider placing heat or ice on affected areas to reduce pain, swelling and stiffness.

arthritis golf

Specialized gloves with padding, gripping and webbing technology, such as these, are helping people play golf with arthritis.


Splints and orthotics can also help support joints. Others prefer water therapy and massage to help combat symptoms of arthritis. In addition, pay close attention to diet and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which contain important vitamins your body needs. 

Benefits of Golf 

The good news is arthritis should not end your golfing activities. Golf is extremely beneficial for strength, balance, coordination and a better range of motion.

But remember to properly stretch and warm up before and after a round to reduce arthritis symptoms. Swing alterations, such as a shorter backswing or proper weight shift, also may promote less wear and tear on the body.

arthritis golf

Arthritis can occur at any age but is manageable today with methods like full regular pre-round stretching routines.


If walking is a possibility, aerobic exercise improves the heart, lung and muscle function and benefits overall health, weight, mood and sleep.

Although arthritis can compromise daily activities, try to stay active and prevent or stave off joint damage. 

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