One thing that I have learned from working with seniors, is that many of them love to play golf. Whether it is being outdoors, enjoying fresh air, or still being able to do an activity that they have done all their lives; golf is quite popular for seniors. While many seniors love golf, those that have osteoporosis can sometimes be more affected by the movements that the sport demands.
Osteoporosis is caused by having low bone density, which may lead to vertebral fractures. What many people don’t realize about osteoporosis is that certain movements like spinal flexion, rotation and side bending, can contribute to potential vertebral fractures. Coincidentally, many of such same movements exist in golf with the tendency to make the osteoporosis worse. Knowing this, does that mean I am suggesting that seniors who love golf should stop? No, not exactly particularly if the condition is not a very serious one, but if it is serious and you will play regardless, then here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Use a modified Golfer’s Reach (Hip Hinge) – Whether you get the ball in the hole or just drop your club, a modified golfer’s reach could help save your back. The modified golfer’s reach is a hip hinge that for the most part keeps your back upright so that you can reduce forward flexion when trying to pick something up. Not only is this technique good for seniors who love golf, but it can also be used during daily activities when you need to lift something.
2. Don’t swing to end range- while the rotation of your swing may be hard on your back, going to the end of your swing or end range could be worse. While you may be used to swinging a club the same way for many years, for the health of your back, an easy modification would be to stop just short. I suggest practicing a slightly shorter swing, so you won’t lose your skills but still save your back.
3. Do posture exercises. Having bad posture is basically keeping your body in constant forward flexion and as mentioned earlier isn’t good for your back. The more you can maintain good posture throughout your swing, the better it will be for your spine. A standing prone cobra exercise (squeezing your shoulder blades together) is one of the best exercises to strengthen the muscles in your spinal column. Try holding a cobra for 30-60 seconds right before you start your game.
While I think it is important to continue to do the activities we love, it shouldn’t be at a detriment to our health. For seniors who love golf, with a few modifications the same will apply.