Golf and Your Knees—May 25, 2011

By Dr. Joseph Markenson

The social aspects of your golf game, spending time with your friends and family, may do wonders for your well-being, but chronic knee pain can make you feel like never lifting a club again.

Many of my patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) have bought into the myth that physical activity will make knees feel worse. However, nothing could be further from the truth, with the right treatment plan. Regular physical activity has actually been shown to improve some arthritis symptoms and promote general health. So a round of golf with friends and family may be a good way to keep your knees working well.

Maintaining an active lifestyle can strengthen muscles, improve functionality and ease pain for people with knee OA. The American College of Rheumatology recommends physical activity for managing the condition. While it may seem counterintuitive to do something that hurts in order to ease the pain, walking, aerobics and strength training have all been shown to do just that.

In fact, a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that exercise and physical therapy improved function in people with knee OA, and may have helped delay or prevent the need for surgery.

Early action is key, and exercise is an important tool in treating OA. Walking 18 holes is the equivalent of walking 10,000 steps, making golf just one sport that may prove beneficial for people with knee OA.

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