Is your knee problem interfering with your love for golf?
According to research,3-18% of amateur and professional golfers suffer knee injuries which, of course, leads to pain. So why does it happen as often as it does for a supposedly low-impact sport?
And is there anything that relieves the pain?
And should I still be playing?
There are 3 key areas to look at: Your knee’s anatomy
Your swing mechanics, and
Anatomy of the knee
Your knee is a synovial joint and as a synovial joint, as part of its anatomy there is a capsule that houses cartilage and fluid that reduces friction during activity.Mobility has to be limited for purposes of stability, especially around weight-bearing joints like your knees. This is where your ligaments and menisci come into the picture, to limit excessive movement.
Your muscles serve a dual purpose: They’re in charge of moving your knee joint but stronger muscles (that you know how to control) also help with stability. So, to summarise, here’s a list of parts involved with your knee:
Bones (thigh bone, shin bone, kneecap)
Joint capsule (along with the cartilages and fluid it confines)
Muscles and their respective tendons
When any of these parts get damaged, you likely will feel pain.
The golf swing involves rapid rotation and extension of your knee on your lead leg. This sudden, powerful motion can sometimes be too much for your knee to contain, leading to meniscus tears – the sport’s most prevalent type of knee injury. Flaring out your lead foot essentially pre-rotates your knee joint, reducing the amount of rotation it has to move through during your swing, therefore reducing your risk of injury. Other types of injuries – like an ACL tear, for example – could also happen in golf but don’t nearly happen as often. Another reason your knee joint might be hurting is overuse. Though it isn’t limited to just your knees, the American Journal of Sport Medicine says overuse injuries are the most common types of injuries in golf. So, even if you do have a mechanically sound technique, maybe you’re not giving yourself enough time to rest.
You may also have pre-existing injuries or some type of joint disease. For example, let’s say you have a sprain or a tear on either your meniscus or ligaments. This tear, no matter how minute, compromises your knee’s stability which, in turn, causes pain at any time before, during, or after a swing. Other examples would be several types of arthritis. Be it osteoarthritis gouty, rheumatoid, or any other type, all of these conditions are chronically damaging your joints. So, when they act up, they’re going to make your knees painful, especially if you choose to push yourself while you’re in the game.
This may need Physiotherapy intervention ranging from exercise programmes, manual therapy, shock wave therapy, taping and general advice regarding equipment, swing and general health and wellbeing
Equipment You will need to check out your footwear as well as your clubs
Footwear Golf shoes have cleats that help keep your lead foot planted on the ground which, in turn, helps you put more power behind your swing, however, having your foot firmly planted also puts more rotational stress around your knee during the swing. This can increase your risk of injury, particularly on your meniscus. Try golf shoes with shorter cleats and see if that helps.
2 of the most important things to consider here are length and flexibility. Length
Whether you are using woods or irons use a club length that isn’t suited to your stature may put more stress on your knee as well as your back and shoulders. Flexibility,
Faster drivers equate to stiffer shafts. Using a shaft with a flexibility that isn’t meant for your playing style, again, can alter your mechanics which may lead to knee injuries. In this case, I highly recommend you let a professional fit you.
Custom clubs may cost more but they could also help increase longevity.
And what if nothing is working?
One option is knee surgery. And we have come a very long way since 2007.
It's definitely worth getting an opinion about the state of your knee and it's prognosis. Sometimes it's better to get in there early for a re-surfacing or a uni-compartmental joint replacement as the recovery is faster meaning that you have way less 'down-time"
New advances in knee surgery mean better outcomes for patients and reduced recovery times, says Professor David Barrett, a lead consultant at Southampton University Hospital and one of the UK’s senior specialist knee surgeons.Traditionally, arthritis was mainly a disease for the elderly. “Now, the patients we see are getting younger,” says Barrett. “That’s partly due to sports-related injuries and partly because people are getting heavier. But it’s also because patients have become more demanding. Previously, people with knee issues would simply accept reduced mobility. The new breed of patient isn’t willing to do that. They want to be able to play golf and tennis in their retirement.”
After surgery a 6-week intense Physiotherapy Programme intervention is key to get you back on track and return you to golf.