Since the only part of your body that rests on a golf club is your hands, you better have a solid grip. But that can be a big problem if arthritis pain invades your wrists, hands or fingers. Fortunately, golf equipment manufacturers have devised ways to lessen the difficulties of playing with arthritis, and specially designed golf grips are a key part of the solution.
The Agonies of Arthritis
As American Golf explains, arthritis is defined as an inflammation of one or more joints. Usually, it's caused by the breakdown of cartilage, the material that protects your joints and keeps your bones from rubbing together. Pain, swelling and stiffness are symptoms of arthritis, which varies greatly in intensity. Sometimes, arthritis can be easily managed with moderate exercise and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. But arthritis also can result in chronic pain and disability.
Playing Without Pain
Most golfers with arthritis benefit from playing a round. American Golf notes that moderate exercise that combines strengthening and aerobics can enhance joint function, coordination, balance and overall health. The right equipment makes a big difference. For example, graphite shafts are lighter than steel shafts, making them easier to swing. Graphite shafts also vibrate less than steel, further reducing the impact on your hands, wrists, arms and shoulders. Oversize golf grips serve the same purpose -- the thicker grips reduce the amount of pressure on your hands and fingers and help dampen vibration.
If the Grip Fits, You Must Equip
Many of the top manufacturers of golf grips, such as Winn, make oversize grips specifically to help golfers with arthritis or other conditions that make holding the club difficult or painful. Another top manufacturer, Lamkin, makes a specially designated arthritis golf grip. It's round and oversized, 1/16th inches thicker than a normal golf grip. In addition, the grip has nubs that are intended to lessen the effort it takes to hold the club. GolfClubGrip.net notes that the Whisper grip from Golf Pride, another top manufacturer, was honored by the Arthritis Foundation for its effectiveness in reducing the pressure on your joints when you swing a club.
Beyond the Grip
Armed with the right grips and clubs, many arthritis sufferers are able to play golf with little discomfort. But even if you have severe arthritis, you might still be able to keep swinging. Consider PGA Tour start Phil Mickelson, whose career was threatened when he developed psoriatic arthritis, a dangerous condition that sometimes even compromises the heart and lungs. Fortunately, Mickelson's condition was almost totally alleviated by a drug called Enbrel, and he captured the British Open in 2013.