If you think you’re doing your osteoarthritic knees good by reducing your walking, you have it very wrong.
In fact, a lot of walking, even all day long such as on a golf course, is the recommended thing to do, according to a study.
Golfers are not doing their knees any favors by opting for the cart over “all that walking.”
Ditch the cart, says the new study. And we can take from this to mean that generous walking ANYWHERE is good for knees with osteoarthritis.
Nobody is saying you should deliberately walk 10 miles a day at a fast clip. But when there’s an opportunity to walk, you should grab it, even if you have osteoarthritis in both knees.
The research comes from the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and Northwestern Medicine.
The study found that the volume of walking on a golf course does NOT cause significantly more pain, inflammation or cartilage wear-and-tear.
“Individuals with knee osteoarthritis are often concerned about pain and may be more likely to use a golf cart,” points out lead study author Dr. Prakash Jayabalan, physician scientist at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, in the report.
“However, through sophisticated blood-based biomarker analysis, “continues Dr. Jayabalan in the 2018 paper, “this study has shown that golfers with knee osteoarthritis do not need to be concerned about worsening their disease through walking the course. In fact, walking provides the best health benefit.”
How the Study Was Done
• The Glenview Park District Golf Course in Glenview, IL, participated in the study.
• 15 participants (10 with knee osteoarthritis, five of similar age but with healthy knees)
• All participants played 18 holes (two rounds, one walking and one with a cart).
• Blood samples were taken during each round to measure markers of inflammation and cartilage stress.
• Before each round, subjects with knee osteoarthritis reported an average pain score of 1.3 on a zero to 10 scale.
• While walking the course they rated their pain an average of 2.1.
• When using a cart their rating was an average of 1.5. This subjective reduction in pain is not clinically significant.
Walking, but also use of the cart, increased these makers, but there was no difference in the increase from the walking and from the cart.
“Bottom line: walking the course is significantly better than using a golf cart,” says Dr. Jayabalan in the report, “but using a golf cart is still better than not exercising at all.”
When I was a personal trainer I had a client, a woman in the mid-50s, who was overweight and had knee osteoarthritis.
It hurt to walk, and her gait was off. I worked with her twice a week. Each session included walking backwards on a treadmill.
I started her out as half a mile per hour and stood before her, my feet on either side of the tread, as a security measure. But I did not hold onto her, and I forbad her from holding onto the rails.
Over time she was able to walk backwards without holding on at faster speeds.
I also trained her to walk forward for five minutes straight at four mph – without holding on.
Within a few months there was a marked improvement in her gait. It was no longer off-kilter and uncomfortable looking, but smooth and stable looking.
Ask your doctor about the benefits of walking despite having osteoarthritis in your knees. Walking might very well be what your doctor orders.