The knee is the largest joint in the body and one of the most complex. Healthy knees are not only vital to the golf game, but to many activities of daily life. The knee is designed to withstand all kinds of stresses and strains, but one wrong move, let alone a fall or other accident, can cause significant damage. A knee injury or condition such as arthritis can make it difficult to climb stairs, run, jump, play golf or another sport, even walk or sit down.
While knee injuries aren't the most common type of injury golfers sustain, they do occur, and engaging in the sport may aggravate pre-existing knee problems. Even Tiger Woods has had knee injuries and subsequent surgery that kept him off the golf course for a time.
The good news is that we can take measures to protect our knees and keep them in the best possible condition. For example, exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee can protect it and help us stay active, despite certain knee conditions.
It helps to understand basic anatomy. Three bones meet to form the knee joint: the thigh bone (femur), shin bone (tibia), and kneecap (patella). The kneecap sits in front of the joint and provides protection.
Knee Joint and Bones
Several muscles are critical to knee function. The two most important are the quadriceps, located in the front of the thigh, and the hamstrings, in the back of the thigh.
The quadriceps are called into action when we want to straighten our knee (called knee extension), while the hamstrings muscles enable us to bend our knee (called knee flexion.)
Several ligaments that connect the thigh bone to the shin bone stabilize the joint. The main ligaments in the knee include the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL.) The ACL and PCL cross each other within the joint to keep the shin bone in place, controlling its forward and back motion. The collateral ligaments run down each side of the knee, controlling side-to-side movement and stabilizing the knee.
Normal Range of Motion
Normal range of motion can vary, but as a general rule, we should be able to fully straighten our knee and bend it until the heel is approximately 2 inches from our buttocks.