Dr Bret Wilson

Hot Golf in the Summer Time

Hot Golf in the Summer

Dr Bret WilsonSummer time in Arizona means higher temperatures and lower greens fees. Golfing in full sun and triple degree temperatures requires some desert adaptation.  A golfer will walk 4-6 miles in an eighteen hole round over a four to five hour period.  That is a long walk across the desert.  Proper preparation can allow golfers to enjoy the game and finish in good health.

Dehydration and high temperatures can lead to increased soreness of muscles, fatigue and in severe cases, heat stroke.  If you experience symptoms like dizziness, confusion, extreme fatigue take first aid measures immediately.  Drink water, loosen clothing, find a cool spot (indoors if possible) and rest.  Call for medical help to prevent permanent damage.   If you are not used to being outdoors in the heat, or have a medical condition that is effected heat extremes, modify your activity prudently.  Play just a few holes, stop if you start to feel any symptoms of distress. Avoid golfing alone, keep an eye on others in your foursome.

Drink lots of water before, during and after the round.  Drink a bottle of water prior to the round and then a bottle ever hour.  Hydration needs vary based on temperature, body weight and intensity of physical activity.  Do not wait until thirsty to drink water.  Take water with you, don’t wait for the drink cart.  There is increased need for water intake if you smoke, drink alcohol or drink sugared or caffeinated beverages while golfing.  These beverages increase your bodies need for water.  Sports drinks are not superior to water for hydration, but can be helpful on an alternative basis if activity goes beyond 90 minutes to help with carbohydrate and electrolyte replacement.

Golf 1Take proper precautions against over exposure to the sun and heat.  Wear light colored clothing that breathes, a hat and proper sun block.  Avoid playing during the hottest part of the day. Take advantage of shade and cover along the way to get out of the direct rays of the sun.  The use of a cool wet towel around the neck helps keep the body cool on a hot day.  Use a spray bottle as a mister to help cool down.

Even though it is hot, it is still important to warm up before your round.   The importance of a warm up is to get blood flow and respiration increased in preparation for physical activity.  A walk is a perfect low stress way to get ready.  Next move the joints and muscle through a range of motion in a slow and deliberate manner.  Go to the end range, feel stretch but not pain, and hold for 2-3 breaths.  Then move in the opposite direction, either side to side or front to back.   Move your arms and legs against a stable trunk.  Move the neck and back cautiously and slowly in rotation, side bending and extension.  Avoid toe touches.  Alternately place a club behind your back with a hand at your head and one at your pelvis, maintain contact with the club as you flex forward at the hips.  Maintain a slight forward curve in the low back, avoid rounding the back.  The goal is to activate all your muscles, improve circulation to muscles and tendons, lubricate joints and connect your brain to your body in motion.

During the round, keep your whole body involved.  Take a few swings in the opposite direction to keep both sides activated.  Place the club behind your back and perform the hip hinge every few holes.  Alternate walking and riding to your shots to incorporate the natural balance of walking to offset the one sided golf swing.

After the round, hydrate, stretch and cool down.   Hydration at the 19th hole should include water before alcohol.  Walking and stretching post round can help reduce muscle tension and soreness.   Use applications of ice to any areas of pain or strain.  Apply for 15 minutes, repeat every few hours as needed.

Golf 2Golf in the desert in triple degree temperatures requires planning and a respect for the elements.  Be cautious in your estimation of your tolerance for heat.  Hydrate, hydrate, and then hydrate again.  Warm up, stay loose and then cool down.  Be vigilant for signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion in others and yourself. Stay cool, stay healthy and have fun with golf this summer!

Yours in health,

Dr. Bret Wilson.

Hydration Tips For Golf:   http://www.golflink.com/list_209_best-hydrating-techniques-golfers.html

Recognize Dehydration and Heat Stroke: http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/emergency_services/non_traumatic_emergencies/dehydration_heat_stroke/Pages/index.aspx

Health Tips for Golfers   http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=71