Golf is More Than Just a Good Swing



Golf Biomechanics

The golf swing is a highly coordinated and complex motion that minimally requires good stance, posture and grip.

While studying the foot biomechanics involved during these movements, it is helpful to divide the golf swing into phases - setup, takeaway, downswing, impact and follow-through.

Set up requires an even distribution of weight on both feet, with slightly more weight placed on the medial aspects of the balls of the feet.

The transition from set up to takeaway (backswing) sees a lateral to medial force shift in the lead foot. More pressure is placed on the inside of this foot while the back foot (or trail foot) stays stable with an increase in lateral forces.

The heel of the lead foot might come off the ground to promote a full shoulder turn, which places more pressure on the ball of that foot.

During downswing, the weight shifts rapidly to the front foot until impact, this is when considerable ground reaction forces are required to maximise the club-head velocity.

There is a lateral shift of the hips and knees and this continues slightly into the follow-through phase.

In the final follow-through phase, the laterally distributed force on the lead foot decreases and the trail foot is unloaded with increased stress to the hallux and first metatarsal phalangeal joint.

The occurrence of injuries in golfers are more likely to originate from overuse than trauma.

As noted by Pollard et al. in their study on golf overuse injuries, particularly of the low back, are common in professional golfers. This is due to the repetitive nature of practising the golf swing and the large ranges of motions and forces exerted on the low back.

The forces that occur due to the mechanics of the golf swing are - downward compression, side to side bending, sliding and back to front shearing.

Poor swing mechanics can increase these forces and when combined with the large forces produced in the low back, there is an increased risk of strain and disc herniation.

Lateral ankle ligament laxity can also result as an effect of repetitive strain, especially during the follow-through phase, when forces produced in the lower extremity cause an abduction of the knee of the non-dominant limb and a supination of the foot with eversion of the rearfoot.

On longer shots, this force strains the ankle ligaments and the peroneal tendons to such an extent that this could cause pain.

Postural instability can predispose a golfer to overuse injuries and increase the strain on ligaments and tendons as the forces on the lower extremity undergo change during the golf swing.

An orthotic intervention can correct postural imbalance which reduces fatigue, aches and pains to improve consistency of performance.

The effect of foot orthotic intervention on club-head velocity was investigated by Stude and Gullickson in their study, which established a relative increase in the club-head velocity by up to 7%, after participants had worn custom-made orthotics for six weeks.

The benefits of using custom made orthotics such as MASS4D® extend beyond treating and preventing pathologies of the lower extremity.

By enhancing the postural stability of the individual, orthotics result in prominent visual changes that signify overall balance to the musculoskeletal system.

Related Links

References:

  1. Phillip E. Ward (2010) A Guide To Common Foot And Ankle Golf Injuries. Podiatry Today: August 2010, Vol. 23, No. 8.
  2. Henry Pollard, Andrew McHardy, Kehui Luo (2006) Golf Injuries. Sports Medicine: February 2006, Vol. 36, No.2, pp. 171-187.
  3. Christopher MacLean (2006) Golf Kinetics & Common Injuries. Clinical Biomechanics. Retrieved from: http://parispedorthic.com/
  4. Stude D.E., Gullickson J. (2000) Effects of orthotic intervention and nine holes of simulated golf on club-head velocity in experienced golfers. Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy: March-April 2000, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 168-174.

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