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Older Golfers Strength & Flexibility (Research Article)

Here is a brief summary of Thompson and Osness (2004) 8-week strength and flexibility study on golfers 55-79 year old golfers. Find the study here.


Intro

Thompson and Osness took participants through an eight week strength and flexibility training program, involving three sessions a week. Strength training was completed using resistance machines and stretching protocols involved static and dynamic stretches for 20 to 30 seconds each. They used clubhead speed (CHS) as a measure of golf performance.


Participants performed one set of 12 reps on each of the exercises and increased the weight used after 12 sessions, and showed an increase in all exercises after the eight week programme. Exercises included machines such as leg press, leg extension, Lat pull down, chest press, shoulder press, Ab crunch, bicep curl, for example.


Static stretches were held for about 20 seconds each and included, but not limited to chest stretch, lateral trunk sideband, posterior shoulder, back extensors and hamstrings. Dynamic stretches were performed for about 30 seconds and included "angry cat" (I call this a Cat-Dog) and standing trunk rotations, for example.


Results

Clubhead speed increased from 85 to 87.1 mph in the treatment group, compared to the control group where Clubhead speed changed from 80.3 to 79.8 mph (so, stayed the same).The treatment group improved in all strength tests compared to the control group which did not improve in any. Improvements in flexibility were seen, particularly around the shoulder and trunk, however, the hip flexibility did not improve much. The authors suggest that an increase in 2 mph CHS transfers to 6 yards of extra distance.


My thoughts on the study…

It is great to see improvements in strength, flexibility and CHS in older golfers after only 8-weeks of training. This would help improve golf, but could also help improve quality of life and possibly reduce their risk of injuries too! And, this could mean that continuing training beyond 8-weeks could see further improvements in CHS etc.


It was interesting to see that the control group improved flexibility without doing anything (except their normal physical activity habits), which brings into question the reliability of the flexibility tests used. And also with the treatment group not particularly improving hip flexibility, I would question the choice of exercises used too. Or this could be something that takes longer to improve or requires longer stretches, for example.


I don't remember a mention of familiarisation for strength testing, so improvements in strength could have been partly down to being familia/ getting use to the test and procedures. Finally, testing clubhead speed involved participants hitting a standard driver into a golf net, which isn't particularly representative of golf and I'm sure I'm not alone here in thinking that I would probably swing a little bit faster in that situation as it doesn't matter where the ball goes! So, this could skew the results in a bit.

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