Knee pain is a problem that we see very commonly in golfers here at Par4Success. It’s an interesting problem because usually, the knee is not the real root of the problem, but the symptom that the golfer notices. Today, we’re going to educate you on the causes of knee pain and how they affect your golf swing, as well as some easy ways to fix them.
One common problem is actually in the hip. When you come down from the top of your swing, if you’re unable to rotate your lead hip through the ball, that requires your lead knee to extend violently as you follow through, which can cause pain. This can cause you to shift your weight to your back foot as you swing, which negatively affects how the club impacts the ball. If your trail knee is instead the one in pain, the opposite issue occurs, where you’re unable to load into that leg at the top of your backswing which means you won’t be able to generate as much power.
The biggest complaint we get, however, is that it hurts golfers’ knees to walk the golf course. Most knee issues are more aggravated by walking from shot to shot than they are from the actual golf swing so this is an important issue to address.
The muscle fibers are all going parallel up and down, which is what we want because that is what allows us to move the way we need. The most common cause of pain that we see is from trigger points in this tissue, which is when what a lot of people will call “knots” occur.
These “knots” decrease the overall length of the muscle fibers, decreasing the range in which we can comfortably move. Since the knee is the main hinge joint in the leg, that’s usually where we feel the effect of these trigger points when they are in our quad and groin muscles, even though they are not actually located there. Trigger points build up through use of the muscle, and once enough build up, our nervous systems start to interpret pain from the shortened muscle fibers.
The goal of treatment is to get rid of these trigger points and restore tissue health so they no longer reach that critical mass that causes our brains to interpret them as painful.
The most common suggestion doctors give patients is to simply take two weeks off to let the tissue heal itself. That doesn’t often truly solve the problem, rather it delays healing and puts you more at risk for re-injury down the road.
This is why we recommend some of the myofascial exercise described below that actually will help the tissue heal and return to normal elasticity and function.
This exercise is very simple. You will need a softball or something round of similar size and hardness. Place it on the ground and place your quad on the ball, then roll the ball around until you find a sore spot.
Trigger points on the outside of your leg usually cause pain on the outside of your knee, and trigger points on the inside of your leg usually cause pain on the inside of your knee, so use this to guide your search.
Once you find a sore spot, keep the softball there, and bend your knee back and forth. You can also do this exercise with a foam roller, which will be less painful but less effective.
If this doesn’t help, we strongly recommend seeing a physical therapist or medical professional who can use active release techniques, dry needling, or something else more aggressive than self-myofascial techniques to help release these trigger points.
The good news is that more often than not, this exercise will save you a trip to the doctor or physical therapist (and the money that would cost)!
This is, of course, just one thing that might cause pain in the knee; there are many more, including arthritis and actual injury, but we find that this is the most common cause of knee pain in golf that is often attributed to arthritis and it happens to be remarkably easy to treat.