Don’t Let RA Pain Mess With Your Game!

Feeling sidelined by rheumatoid arthritis? Get back your peak form with these tips from pro golfer Kristy McPherson, whose competitive spirit is the secret to beating her toughest opponent.

Jodie Gould
More Sharing +

Game buster: Weak abdominal muscles
Kristy’s fix: Get on the (stability) ball! “The stronger your core strength, which comes from your abdominals, the better your golf swing,” notes Kristy. She recommends doing stomach crunches by lying on the floor with your legs bent and your feet on a stability ball. You can also do bent-knee push-ups on the ball as well. 

Game buster: Weak leg muscles
Kristy’s fix: Her “triple 2” treadmill routine: “I walk for half an hour on a treadmill starting at a 2% incline and push it up by 2% every two minutes until I work up to a 12% incline. Then I work my way back down. It’s easier on your knees and you still get a good workout.” No treadmill? You can work the same muscles by simply standing up from a chair and sitting back down (gradually work up to three sets of 15 reps). 

Mind your game, not the pain, with Kristy’s take-charge tips:

Remember: Learning how to play with RA makes you smarter.
“I know I have to work harder than others, but sometimes I play better on the tougher days because I know when to play safe and which shots I can and can’t pull off,” she says. “Don’t use arthritis as an excuse for not being able to do something you love. Sure it’s tougher, but there’s almost nothing you can’t do with arthritis! I simply decide to play the best game possible given the restrictions of my disease.”

Focus on the next step—and nothing else.
Whatever activity you want to accomplish—whether it’s finishing nine holes of golf or finishing a half-hour walk—don’t think too far ahead. This philosophy is one of the keys to Kristy’s success: “If you’re in pain, focus on one shot at a time. It sharpens your concentration and helps you take control of each shot.” For the walking example, say you’re too stiff or tired to contemplate a 30-minute workout. Try setting a goal for only the first five or 10 minutes: “I just need to make it to the next block,” or, “I’m going to count for 20 steps.” And when you’ve done that, enjoy the feeling of keeping your promise, then pick your next five-minute goal!

April 2013