The word injury is often enough to strike fear into the heart of a professional athlete, and if it’s something that affects the way you throw a golf disc, it can turn your life completely upside down. For DUDE Ambassador Melodie Bailey, that process began in May 2016 when her right middle finger felt a bit funny after competing in a tournament.
Her symptoms slowly worsened, and through what seemed like multiple misdiagnoses by her physician, she’s now in a position of having to sit out from the game she loves for a lengthy period of time. We spoke with Melodie to find out more about her recovery from injury and how she’s maintained a positive attitude through it all.
What Exactly Happened?
Although it started as a funny feeling, Bailey’s finger slowly started paining her more and more, despite sitting out from disc golf for six weeks at the recommendation of her doctor. Right before Worlds in 2016, she was diagnosed with tendonitis and coupled with a cortisone injection, stayed pain-free for about six months.
A second injection in 2017 helped to manage her pain, but in July of that year, her symptoms dramatically worsened. “My middle finger started snapping when I moved it and I felt a grinding sensation through my tendon,” she said. “I went back to the doctor and was told I have trigger finger, which is when the tendons in the center of the hand get stuck, causing pain and loss of movement.”
She underwent surgery just before Thanksgiving and has been off the disc golf course since. Bailey completed a range of physical therapy treatments but was just recently told that she may need to have a second surgery to permanently fix the issue.
Changing Up Her Game
During the lengthy process of actually finding out what was wrong with her finger, Melodie made some modifications to her game to help manage the pain. Not only did she alter her power grip so that it reduced the amount of snap on her middle finger, but she also added more steps to her run up. Despite the frustration with her hand, she holds an incredibly positive perspective:
“This has opened my eyes to what I have been doing wrong. I truly believe that it’s a blessing in disguise. If [I had] not been injured I would have kept doing the same old same old, and would have capped out as a 920 disc golfer.”
Rather than dwelling on the fact that she’s missed nearly an entire season of golf, Melodie sees the long-term benefit that’s come from her injury. Her number one tip for anyone who is trying to work through an injury?
“I am guilty of not taking enough time to really recover and look at me now,” she said.
Taking the time to fully heal before trying to play through the pain is what can make all the difference.
For a brief stint, Bailey even played with her left hand and advised that this can be learned with a bit of practice and patience. If you’ve completely lost the use of your throwing hand, you can always switch to the other one. So where does she stand knowing that another surgery and more physical therapy might be on the horizon?
“Don't worry, I’ll be back soon stronger than ever,” Bailey said confidently.
Everyone at DUDE wishes her the best of luck and a speedy recovery. We can’t wait to see her out on the course crushing it once again!