Prevention Can Be a Tough Pill to Swallow
There are some 25 million golfers in America. A significant percentage of them suffer with chronic pain. The highest prevalence of chronic pain among golfers is the back, shoulder and knee. Many of the golfers I know pop aspirin and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like candy. How you deal with the signs and symptoms of pain can and will determine the quality of not only your game, but your life.
Symptoms are Often the “Tip of the Iceberg”
Pain is simply a message that is sent from an area of injury directly to the brain letting you know that something is wrong. In other words, it is a healthy sign informing you to address the cause of the injury. Medications to treat pain often times mask the symptoms without ever addressing the cause of the pain. If you ignore this sign, or worse, you mask the pain with a medication, you risk further injury by overriding the normal protective mechanisms of the body. This can be quite dangerous when you consider a repetitive action such as a golf swing.
Improper swing mechanics coupled with chronic underlying injuries can seriously wear and tear spinal discs causing disc bulges and herniations, create micro-tears in the rotator cuff of the shoulder and even create gait disturbances by damaging the knees. Some of you die-hards may say it’s worth it for that opportunity to put that chip shot into the cup or to drive the ball 300 yards, but I think the majority of you will agree that perhaps you have not thought through the concept of what pain really is doing to you.
A few years back Ray Floyd did a great disservice to the golf world when he announced after a championship round that he habitually ingested four pills of a popular Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) prior to each round of golf he played to manage the pain.
Medication to treat pain may have its place in the short term for acute pain relief. However, those of you who think Advil and the likes of it somehow prevent injuries may be harming yourselves more than you think. In addition to masking and overriding the normal bodily signal to protect yourself, these medication wreak havoc in your kidneys and stomach where they are known to cause gastrointestinal ulceration and reduce connective tissue healing.
Take Care of Yourself
The solution is not always the easiest path to follow. By becoming a better listener to the needs of your body you will become a more consistent, healthier golfer. With good health comes better consistency and control over your game. I recently golfed with a gentleman well into his 80s. He was hitting the ball straight and far. I asked him his secret. He said that he exercised and stretched every day since he was 50. By continually working his muscles and caring for his frame, he has been able to age gracefully and enjoy the game he loves without aches and pains.