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Improving your long game, and reducing injury, through science

I'm not much of a golfer. I played the back nine at the Palo Alto Golf Course about a decade ago - my first and last foray into the sport. What stands out from that experience, aside from the dull whistling sound of whiffing the ball with a borrowed 5-iron, is the unpleasant twang I would feel in my right elbow when I connected with it. Adding insult to injury, the ball would then either loft with more height than distance or skid mercilessly across the grass - a shot that I later discovered actually has a name: worm burner.

While I'm unlikely to pick up clubs again soon, a study published today in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics, which I've written about in a release, could help duffers on the two fronts I struggled with: injury prevention and distance.

Jessica Rose, PhD, and her fellow Stanford researchers analyzed the rotational biomechanics of 10 professional golfers and found that key parts of their swings were "highly consistent, highly correlated to [club speed at impact with the ball], and appear essential to golf swing power generation among professional golfers."

The study's authors also note that, among amateurs, golf injuries to the lower back, shoulders, elbows and wrists are largely caused by improper swing biomechanics. They go on to say that "a precise understanding of optimal rotational biomechanics during the golf swing may guide swing modifications to help prevent or aid in the treatment of injury."

Photo of golfer Zack Miller by David Gonzales

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