If Tiger Woods was completely honest should he ever be asked what would prevent him from eclipsing Jack Nicklaus major championship record, he might answer, My knee. After all, his recent recovery from ACL reconstructive surgery to his left knee was not his first go-round with knee ailments.
Knee pain is a common affliction for golfers. The knee is a fragile joint, not built with big muscles and large sockets. It is a delicate juncture hanging from the thigh bone by merely a few ligaments. While it is designed to bend forward, then back to its original position, it can unnaturally move from left to right, putting stress on the joint. Because of this, the knee is one of the most often injured joints in the world of sports. Thoroughbred horses are often called million dollar animals on 10-cent legs. The same could be said of humans because of the knee. In fact, Dr. Brian Halpern, a sports-injury specialist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, has gone so far as to declare a Knee Crisis.
Golfers are no exception when it comes to knee pain. So what can you do to prevent knee pain and injuries? According to Dr. Halpern, we can stretch and strengthen. Here are some of his suggestions.
Daily stretches will help keep the knees in shape for the demands of the golf swing. Heres one you can perform at home:
Stand with one leg in front of, and crossed over, the other leg. Exhale, and bend your body to the same side as your front leg. Hold for a count of 20, straighten up, then repeat the bend nine more times. Reverse leg positions, and repeat 10 times in the other direction.
When your quads are strong, they will provide better knee support. Heres a daily exercise for strengthening the quadriceps:
With your feet side-by-side, extend both arms forward and slowly lower yourself into a half-squat, stopping before your legs are parallel to the ground. Keep your back straight. Repeat 20 times.
Treating the Pain
If you have knee pain, forego the FootJoys in exchange for tennis shoes. This will cut down on twisting and excess torque, which causes most knee pain and injuries. Ice the knee when you get home, and take anti-inflammatories. When the pain is gone, go back to stretching and strengthening, but do it gently and carefully so as to not reaggravate the injury.
Before long, the golf course will again be ripe for the conquering and the knees will be like new. Theyll thank you for the conditioning.
Source: Hospital for Special Surgery, New York.
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