Golfers with Osteoarthritis Urged to Walk the Course

golfers osteoarthritis

Golfers who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee are better off walking the golf course rather than getting on a buggy, according to an American study. 

The study found that walking in between holes of a golf course increased health benefits and didn't increase pain when compared to using a golf cart to get around.

Balance between rest and exercise

Osteoarthritis of the knee is a common type of arthritis that causes joint pain and stiffness. It is most common in people aged from late-40s onwards – this may be because the muscles have become weaker, the body is less able to heal itself or the joints have gradually worn out.

Although regular exercise is recommended for people with knee osteoarthritis, in order to keep the joints moving, it is also important to protect the knee from injury. Arthritis Research UK recommends ‘finding the right balance between rest and exercise’ and that ‘little and often is usually the best approach’.

Walk or ride

Many people with knee osteoarthritis who play golf will avoid walking the golf course in order to protect their knees – and so will opt to use a golf cart to get around. 

However, researchers from Northwestern University, Illinois, US, have found that there are benefits to walking rather than riding the course for people with knee osteoarthritis.

18 holes

The study involved 15 golfers, 10 with knee osteoarthritis and five without. They all played 18 holes of golf, walking the course. On a separate day, the same people played the same course but got round the course using a golf cart.

Heart rate measurements were used to analyse the intensity of the exercise, and blood samples were used to measure cartilage stress and inflammation. 

Pain score

Prior to starting either round, the golfers with knee osteoarthritis had an average pain score of 1.3 (on a scale of 0–10). When they played the round walking the course, they had an average 2.1-point increase in pain score. When they played the round using the golf cart, they had an average 1.5-point increase. This difference is not clinically significant.

There was no difference between the rounds in terms of cartilage stress and inflammation. When walking the course, the golfers with knee osteoarthritis spent more than 60% of the round with their heart rate in the moderate intensity heart rate zone; whereas when in the cart, they spent 30%.


This article was written by a third party source and does not reflect the views or opinions of Ramsay Health Care unless explicitly stated.

Additional comments on the page from individual Consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other Consultants or Ramsay Health Care.

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