Science helps perfect the golf swing, says physiotherapist

Friday, October 5, 2007
Source: Australian Physiotherapy Association

Innovative professional golf coaches up with the latest techniques are using a combination of science and art to improve the golf swing of their charges. The advent of three-dimensional kinematic assessment and biofeedback, which is a system of tracking body movements and its analysis, has revolutionised the potential for faster retraining in the golf swing.

Brisbane sports physiotherapist Michael Dalgleish told delegates at the Australian Physiotherapy Association Conference Week (October 4-8) that kinematic assessment and biofeedback can be used as an injury treatment and prevention and, more importantly, as a performance enhancement tool. Mr Dalgleish calls kinematic assessment “the MRI for your golf swing”. Althoughit is used by elite golfers and sports institutes, particularly in the US, it is the average player who’s getting the most benefit from it, he says. So far in a commercial setting, there is just one machine in Brisbane and one in Melbourne.

 “A lot of the good players get on it when they’re playing well because they like to know what they are actually doing,” Mr Dalgleish says. “It’s pretty good to know what you’re doing when you’re good, so if you go off the rails, then you can look at what’s changed.” Normally, the analysis of movement is two-dimensional, such as watching a video. “So what we do with the three-D equipment is that we generate a magnetic field from a little box that sits on a tripod. On the person, they have three-dimensional coils on their wrist, on their forehead, on their upper back and on their lower back. “The coils create a weak current whenever they move in the magnetic field, so what happens when the person swings the golf club is that there are 140,000 data points for a golf swing of how they’re moving in the three planes instantaneously.

“So you’ve got three translations and three rotations, if you like, that’s six degrees of freedom of movement. You can go forwards, backwards, you can go to the side and you can go up and down.” The CEO of a company called Golf Biodynamics, Dr Rob Neal, an expert in biomechanics, has done an optimisation model to analyse the numbers.

 “Effectively what that means is that we have been able to generate corridors ofhow your body should move in the golf swing. There are parameters or corridors which you have to be able to move in if you want to swing the golf club like the elite players. “The biofeedback allows you to see the parameters of the golf swing, which you couldn’t do with coaching. You get a beep if they fit in the corridor. I can see if you are in the eight to 12 degrees that you should be in. It beeps if you’re doing it correctly.”

The APA, which has organised the conference, is the peak professional body representing a membership of more than 12,000 physiotherapists in Australia. Michael Dalgleish is available for interviews and photos etc and has his 3D kinematic machine with him in Cairns.

For further information, contact the APA on 03 9534 9400, APA National
Manager – Public Policy Jonathon Kruger on 0402 208 104.