Did you know that knee injuries are 3-18 prevalent in both amateur and pro golfers? Interestingly, the left knee is also identified as the more common site of these injuries. (1) So, how to play golf with a sore left knee, you ask?
It all comes down to how you manage your pain as it happens and in the long term, as well as your preparation before and after your play golf.
All of those will be detailed below. I recommend reading this from the top-down. But, if you want to jump straight to certain sections, simply tap on their respective bullets below:
- What should I do if I have knee pain?
- Tips about protecting your knees on the golf course
- Treating acute and chronic knee pain in golfers
I have knee pain when playing golf. What Should I do?
In general, when having acute pain, it is preferred that you rest so you don’t exhaust your knee. Not doing so may aggravate your pain and may even bring more adverse effects.
It’s best, however, if you learn how to manage knee pain for the long term. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Improving your golf swing mechanics, doing golf-specific exercises, and eating the right food to eat are your first steps (which I will address later on).
Tips that protect your knee on the golf course
Many simple tricks can reduce the incidence of knee injuries while playing golf. They include:
- Performing a 10-minute warm-up before you start
- Doing trunk twists
- Static stretching
- Side bending
- Weight lifting exercise
- Staying hydrated
For one, a recent research paper found that older golfers (in their 60s and 70s) who engaged in an 8-week progressive training program had tremendously increased their clubhead speed by 24% while also lowering their risk of injury.
This training program included flexibility, balance, and resistance exercises. (2)
There are many other similar studies but, the point is, science insists that regular training is crucial to avoiding injuries.
Focus on flexibility, strength, and technique when you train.
Lack of flexibility among golfers is one reason they get injuries, especially in the hip and knee. Daily stretching for your hip and knee muscles can result in decreased incidence of knee pain.
Although golf is a game of technique, strength training can still help prevent injuries and enhance performance.
Some examples of resistance exercises that are great for golfers include squats, deadlifts, bench press, planks, and statue of liberty.
All of these can enhance your performance, energize you, enhance blood flow, and of course, decrease your risk for any knee joint injury.
Your lead knee (the left knee for most of us) is subjected to forces that are 100-440% of your bodyweight every time you swing your clubs. (1)
Mind you, these are massive rotational forces that can and have caused many injuries, like meniscus and ACL tears.
Improving your mechanics can help mitigate these forces. Try these:
- Flex your knee during a backswing to disperse the stress on your knees during the swing.
- Avoid tightening your back and other joints. Your body automatically places more stress on your knees when your torso, hips, and ankles are stiff. Stay loose.
- Choose the right golf shoes. Shoes that aren’t right for you and for the sport can place your foot in a pronated position. This, in turn, rotates your knee and predisposes it to injury.
Effective Knee Pain Treatments for Golfers
There are many ways to manage your pain. Some of them can be done during an acute exacerbation of your knee pain, while others are useful tricks that can help you decrease your knee pain in the long run.
How to manage knee pain acutely?
Rest is the mainstay for acute knee pain. The pain usually is a result of inflammation in your knee joint. Additional movements and stress on the joint can exacerbate your knee pain.
Pain killers can sometimes be helpful. They will manage your pain acutely, but they are not useful for long-term pain. Make sure to consult your physician before taking any medication.
Hydration can help decrease pain and decrease inflammation.
How To Manage Knee Pain in The Long Run?
Exercise, as mentioned above, is the best way to manage your knee pain regardless of the cause. Whether it is due to excessive use or faulty movements during a game, exercise is a game-changer!
Try knee braces. Depending on the cause of your pain, there are many different knee braces for golf available. For instance, some focus on bolstering your knee’s stability while others focus on promoting blood flow and managing inflammation.
Try supplementation. First, supplements are not and should not be used as medication. However, in many cases, they can be better especially for long-term. Focus on natural supplements for safety purposes. Examples include turmeric, glucosamine, ginger, and even CBD.
For your safety, do check with your doctor prior to taking any additional medication and supplements.
Can you play golf with a bad knee?
It is not recommended that you play golf with a bad knee. Playing can exacerbate pain and inflammation. It would be best if you rest or do something that requires less effort, like walking. Find out if golf can be bad for your knees here.
Why does my left knee hurt after golf?
There are two reasons why left knee hurt after golf: faulty swing mechanics or pain due to overuse. Faulty swing mechanics can be managed by learning the swing mechanics appropriately. Pain due to overuse can be controlled by rest, food with anti-inflammatory effects, and proper exercise.
What should I do if my left knee hurts?
Rest can help decrease inflammation of your knee. Proper diet and exercise can help in the long run.
How can I run with a sore knee?
It is not recommended that you do vigorous exercise like running if you have a sore knee. You may try to walk, and you should stop if this worsens your pain.
- Nelson, Jessica A.; Richard M. Wardell; Dustin L. Richter; and Robert C. Schenck. “Knee Mechanics in the Golf Swing and the Potential Risk for Injury to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament and Other Structures: A Review.” Western Journal of Orthopaedics 11, 1 (2022). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/wjo/vol11/iss1/4
- Meira, Erik P, and Jason Brumitt. “Minimizing injuries and enhancing performance in golf through training programs.” Sports health vol. 2,4 (2010): 337-44. doi:10.1177/1941738110365129