Wow, Americans really love golf. We take to the links as often as weather permits…and occasionally when it doesn’t. The National Golf Federation (NGF) estimates that 107 million—or one out of three Americans—watched or read about golf and 33.5 million played in 2018 alone. Of those, there were 2.6 million first-time players, a record high.
And it’s not just for adults. The NGF says that 2.5 million juniors played and that “This segment of the golf population is more diverse than ever before—More than one-third (36%) of today’s juniors are girls compared to 15% in 2000. Almost one-quarter of juniors are non-Caucasian while just 6% were minority participants 20 years ago.”
In total, that’s approximately 434 million rounds of golf in just one year. But as with any sport, there are ways to prepare, heal, and recover, especially with the help of a skilled chiropractor like Dr. Chani Henderson of Family & Sports Chiropractic Clinic in Vancouver Washington. Having played throughout middle- and high-school, Dr. Henderson also coached the sport in college. She understands the rigors of golf on the body and can provide ways to strengthen muscles, balance, and your core before, during, and after 18 holes.
American Golf explains that golfers “are prone to certain golf injuries of the muscles and joints—a result of the repetitive motions involved in each swing, among other causes.” They show that these typically affect areas like the lower back, elbows, wrists, and shoulders.
But, says the British Medical Journal, “evidence shows that playing golf regularly is associated with longevity and reducing the risk factors for heart disease/stroke. And it can boost older people’s strength and balance. The sport is also associated with good mental health and improving the overall health of those with disabilities…Golf is sociable, and gets people outdoors, connecting with nature. It can provide moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, and its health benefits are greatest for players (and spectators) who walk round the course rather than opt for a golf cart.”
Dr. Henderson’s practice offers services for general chiropractic needs, after auto accidents, during pregnancy, and—yes—for athletes before and after sports injuries. As she explains “athletes know their body, and they often know when pain is a real injury instead of just ‘soreness.’ If you think you have an injury that is causing your performance to suffer, get in contact with us and we will help you through the process by diagnosing the pain, and providing a treatment plan to promote your return to pain-free activity.”
And her comprehensive care incorporates whole-body ways to prevent future injury. As an example, “if hips are misaligned or you have other issues with your back or joints, you may be compensating for that with your movement,” says Dr. Henderson. “Sometimes that compensation can actually cause other injuries throughout your body. Routine body maintenance through chiropractic care will help keep your body in working order making it less likely for injuries to occur.”
To avoid problems, the Mayo Clinic provides key recommendations. First and most importantly: warm-up. Stretching, practice swings, and a brisk walk or jumping jacks gets you moving. Then start slowly, lift and carry clubs carefully, wear sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and choose proper footwear. When off the green, they suggest building overall endurance, strengthening muscle tone, and stretching to maintain flexibility.
This advice pays off. American Golf and an American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine survey shows “that up to 80 percent of golfers failed to warm up for at least ten minutes before a round. That’s a shame, because as the AOSSM noted, those who did ‘had less than half the incidence of injuries’ when compared to those who didn’t.”
Arnold Palmer said “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening—and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” Beginner or lifelong player, pro or dedicated duffer, it’s a sport for all ages and abilities. You’ll enjoy fresh air, a brisk walk, and the satisfying thwack of club connecting to that dratted white ball. Give it a try and bring a friend, you won’t regret it.
But don’t forget to schedule an appointment with Dr. Henderson before you reserve a tee time. Contact the clinic by calling (360) 254-0400. And, as Palmer also said, never forget that “The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.”