These doctor-approved tips can help you identify (and avoid) knee injuries

bubba watson swings

Heavy hitters like Bubba Watson can create a significant amount of strain on their knees with the tremendous torque they generate off the tee.

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PGA Tour fans are suddenly seeing a lot of fancy footwork, with pros lifting one or even both feet off the ground prior to impact. Turns out these guys aren’t just good — they’re smart, too! The golf swing, especially at 120 mph, can put a lot of torque on your knees, so reducing that torque by not staying planted is a healthy and wise move.

Knee injuries make up somewhere around 10 to 20 percent of golf-related injuries, and meniscus issues — often tears — are the most common problem. That’s because the two C-shaped menisci in each knee, which connect your tibia and femur, act as shock absorbers. Twisting, torquing and flexing are the knees’ potholes, and it’s the lucky golfer who can avoid them all.

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Symptoms: If you’ve suffered an acute injury, like a tear, you may have a sharp pain on either the inner (medial) or outer (lateral) side of the knee. Pain on only one side of the knee or the other is often a clue that it’s indeed a meniscus malady. That said, not all tears are alike — an older golfer might have a degenerative injury, caused by simple wear and tear, that produces only achiness. Swelling is another potential symptom, and you might also feel tension or a locking sensation when bending or extending the knee.

llustration by Ben Mounsey-Wood

Self-Care: If you’re able to fully flex and move your knee, the pain is tolerable and you can ambulate, feel free to start with ice and anti-inflammatories like Aleve or Motrin. Keep at it if you see things improve — just don’t rush to get back to the 1st tee. Like a good backswing, take things slowly. If you’re not seeing any relief from these remedies, it’s time to seek orthopedic care.

Doctor Visit: No relief is no good, so should you experience any kind of locking sensation, where you’re having trouble straightening your leg, don’t wait on the home remedies — check in with your sports medicine care provider pronto. The injury might still heal on its own over time, but sometimes surgical repair does prove necessary.

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