Most people don’t realize that golf isn’t a low impact sport.
The forces generated around the lead leg knee during the golf swing are tremendous. In the case of professional golfers who hit enormous numbers of golf balls in practice and also in play, this can lead to a tear of the large ligament of the knee known as the ACL or anterior cruciate ligament.
Golf can and does take a toll on your body.
In particular, walking up and down hills, getting in and out of the golf cart, bending down to pick up balls on the putting green or out of the hole puts a lot of stress on the knees.
The average golfer being in the older range of the population could have underlying osteoarthritis — a major source of knee pain.
How do you prevent knee pain in golf?
There are a few ways you can prevent long-term knee injury.
1. Proper Golf Biomechanics
Abnormal movements in the knee as a result of poor swing form can lead to excessive force, and therefore damage in the knees, including things like tears of the meniscus. That’s why it’s vital to use the correct swing form.
2. Strength Training
Strengthening the muscles around joints decreases long term degeneration of the joints. Strengthening the quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calves and shins are all important in preventing knee pain.
3. Improving Core Strength
Because the golf swing involves rotational movement around the centre of the body, it’s critical to strengthen the core and stabilize the pelvis. These are also quite critical in preventing injuries to not just the knees, but also the hips and back.
Certain types of supplements — for example, glucosamine and chondroitin — have been shown to slow down the degeneration of joints when taken regularly over long periods.
Further reading on osteoarthritis:
What should I do if I have knee pain from golfing?
Well, like any injury, rest and ice are helpful. For problems like tendonitis, or acute injuries like a sprained ligament or torn meniscus, physiotherapy is also a helpful way to reduce pain and improve function. Sometimes in these acute injuries, anti-inflammatories are also a helpful means to reduce swelling.
In more chronic injuries from overuse or in the case of things like arthritis, then injections — like platelet-rich plasma, hyaluronate or stem cells — have been shown to reduce pain and improve function.
In the case of hyaluronate injection, there’s some evidence to show that the progression of osteoarthritis is slowed down to the point where patients who have routine injections will have their joint last longer before they require knee replacement than people who are not getting injections. There’s a prevention component to that too.
Some patients have pain that prevents them from doing lots of weight-bearing exercises, and so in those patients, we recommend doing exercise in water. This way, you’re unloading the weight from the knees, but you’re still working the muscles with resistance, and there’s a cardio component as well.
Whether this is an acute or repetitive kind of injury to the knee, if you have knee pain, having an appropriate assessment with a sports medicine physician can be helpful to try and determine what sort of treatment is necessary.
There’s no need to suffer in silence any longer. Athletic Edge Sports Medicine’s expert team of physiotherapists and sport medicine physicians can help diagnose and treat your golf-induced knee pain. Contact us today for an initial consultation.