What is it?
Osteoporosis is a loss of bone mass or density. The disease makes bones fragile and weak, and more prone to fractures. Bones in the spine, wrist and hip are commonly affected. Fractures are usually caused by a fall. But in severe cases, something as simple as opening a window or even sneezing can cause a bone to break.
Who is at risk?
Osteoporosis affects more women than men, and is most common in women who are 50 and older. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 8 million women and 2 million men in the United States have been diagnosed with the disease. But many people are undiagnosed, and the disease often goes unnoticed until a fracture occurs.
It is recommended that older adults at risk of osteoporosis have a bone density test.
While weight bearing exercise is one of the recommended ways to combat osteoporosis, certain movements should not be performed. As with any condition, individuals with osteoporosis should consult with their physician before starting any exercise program or sport.
Tips for golfers who have osteoporosis:
- Maintain food form! The risk for fracture increases with improper form.
- Raise your front heel during the backswing. The feet will be able to twist and allow rotation of the entire trunk instead of just rotating within the spine. For golfers with osteoporosis, this will help alleviate the twisting and compressive forces and will lower the risk of a fracture.
- Form an "I" between your hips and shoulders. Your spine should be upright and your shoulders aligned over your hips to ensure proper spine position from the start.
- Shorten the backswing to decrease the rotational and side bending movements of the lower back.
- Stand closer to the golf ball. This will result in a decrease in forward bending and rotation. A more upright posture will protect and minimize strain on the back.
- Open your front leg stance to allow more rotation of the hips: this will decrease the rotation that occurs in the lumbar (low back) spine, therefore decreasing the compressive forces.
- Avoid using the driver. The driver is a longer club than the irons. Using it may lead to more rotation and side bending of the spine during the swing. It also takes more energy and power to swing the longer clubs, specifically the driver and low irons 3 and 4.
- When placing the tee or retrieving the ball, bend at the knees with your back straight and abdominals tight. Stand on one leg while bringing the other leg behind you to reach down. (see photo below)