Sunday, August 30
Aging Golfers Face Many Challenges
“Old” Tom Watson provided thrills at the British Open.
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF
MOST GOLF ANALYSTS BELIEVE golfers reach their peak in their 30s. Many pro golfers agree, and there has been statistical data that supports the theory.
That’s why it was such an incredible feat when Tom Watson, who had undergone hip replacement surgery less than a year earlier, almost won the British Open at 59 years old.
Tom Terrific aside, there are a number of challenges older golfers face during a competitive or leisure round of golf.
Loss in Muscle Mass
Over the age of 30, a golfer begins to gradually lose muscle mass. Lipofuscin, also called the aging pigment, moves into muscle tissues, causing muscle fibers to eventually shrink.
The loss of muscle mass ultimately reduces strength and coordination, especially the strength needed to produce a powerful swing. But weakness and reduced strength also cause most back and shoulder injuries associated with golf-related movements. Because muscle tissue takes longer to heal as golfers get older, recovery from shoulder and back injuries also takes longer and pain does not subside as quickly.
Breakdown of Joints
Due to the high number of repetitive motions, golfers are more prone than the average person to joint problems and arthritis at an earlier age. The process can start in the 20s and 30s, and most golfers over the age of 60 have some degree of osteoarthritis, which causes the cartilage in a joint to lose flexibility and make it stiffer.
The cartilage begins to lose its function as a lubricator and shock absorber, causing pain in the ligaments and tendons. Eventually the bones could rub together from the wear and tear of the cartilage.
The rotating motions of the spine during golf cause the joints of the vertebrae to break down faster. Golfers may experience arthritis of the spine, causing limited mobility and pain that can radiate to other parts of the body. Joint breakdown can also affect the shoulders, hips, knees, wrists and elbows of golfers.
When golfers reach about 50, age-related macular degeneration, which is deterioration in the center of the retina, can gradually produce hazy or blurry vision and a decrease of acuity of central vision. The resulting blurriness and reduced sharpness can affect golfers’ decision-making and accuracy.
Fortunately, older age doesn’t mean golfers can’t enjoy the game, improve their skills and give younger players a run for their money. Tom Watson and other age 50-plus players are living proof.
To help prevent some common ailments associated with aging, older golfers may find it beneficial to engage in strength-training exercises, stretches and a little bit more rest.
With many luxurious Panama hotels in close proximity to great golf courses, rest and relaxation is readily available to golfers of all ages.
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