Fitness Friday: Everything you need to know to protect your knees
Knee injuries aren't terribly common in golf, but knee pain is. Whether it's an overuse issue from walking several miles or excess stress and strain from performing athletic movements on unstable terrain, golfers put their knees to the test on a weekly basis.
Here is a refresher on the most common knee injuries and also what you can do at home to prevent them.
A type of arthritis that occurs when articular cartilage, usually behind the knee, deteriorates. The golfer will typically feel a dull, achy pain and might experience swelling.
2. MENISCUS TEARS
This disc-shape cartilage between the thigh and shin bones often tears as a result of being compressed as the knee joint rotates. The golfer will feel a sharp, biting pain.
Decades of joint stress can result in a significant loss of cartilage, often on the inner and outer edges of the knee, causing bone-on-bone contact and deep-aching or sharp pain.
4. TORN ANTERIOR CRUCIATE LIGAMENT
This connective tissue in the middle of the joint can rip if the knee goes beyond its normal range of motion. A popping sound usually accompanies a tear, and swelling will occur within a few hours.
5. TORN MEDIAL COLLATERAL LIGAMENT
This ligament is located on the inner portion of the joint. Stress placed on the lead knee through impact can rip the tissue, but this is rare and the injury can heal without surgery. Swelling, soreness and bruising on the inside portion of the knee are common symptoms.
Illustrations: Kagan McLeod
< HIP-AND-CALF STRETCH
Increased hip and calf flexibility reduces the stress and shearing force on the knee. On a sturdy chair, hold this demonstrated position, pushing the hips forward and straightening the grounded leg.
< THIGH-TONING SQUATS
Weak quadriceps and hamstring (or thigh) muscles can lead to instability in the knee joint. Keeping your spine straight, slowly drop the posted knee to the ground. Rise and repeat until fatigued.
< HAMSTRING STRETCH
Golfers usually have weak, tight hamstrings, but these posterior thigh muscles are responsible for bending the leg. Hold the position above. Try to keep the extended foot on its heel and the extended leg straight.
< HIP-FLEXOR STRETCH
These muscles allow golfers to get into and maintain a proper address posture, which helps alleviate some compression issues with the knee. Hold the position shown, thrusting your pelvis toward the chair.
Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.