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William M. Austin, DC, CCSP, CCRD
In a landmark study at Northwestern University of Health Sciences by Drs. David Stude* and Jeff Gullickson**, custom-made, flexible orthotics created by Foot Levelers, Inc. were proven to increase club head speed (which equates to increased ball flight distance) and reduce the influence of fatigue in experienced golfers.1
This unique study demonstrated that the improved structural pedal balance created by Foot Levelers' orthotics increased the club head speed by 3-5 mph (9-15 yards of increased distance). Stude and Brink had previously demonstrated with peer-review research that balance (eyes open, two feet and one-footed) and proprioceptive balance (eyes closed, two feet and one-footed) improved with the use of Foot Levelers' orthotics.2
The lower extremities and spine represent a closed kinetic biomechanical chain in the upright posture. The scientific literature supports the notion that the function of one region of this kinetic chain influences the other regions.3,4,5
In golfers, the pedal foundation has the greatest effect on lower extremity biomechanics, and thus, overall performance. Wiren6 identified five factors that produce golf ball flight:
Williams and Cavanagh speculated that a stable base of support will help generate more acceleration in the downswing, thus increasing club head speed and greater ball flight.7 However, they also noted that most players have poor balance and consequently less consistency in contacting the ball. [Though not confirmed, these unsteady, wood-bound golfers also seem to have a higher incidence of poison ivy contact!]
One premise in the Stude-Gullickson study was that a pedal position which had been improved with the use of custom-made orthotics would have a positive influence on the entire kinetic chain. Such an influence, then, would subsequently improve club head velocity - thus, more distance of ball flight.
Foot Levelers' custom-made orthotics - the same ones used in this study - had already been proven to stabilize the foot in a better position of biomechanical function based on radiologic evaluation.8 This stabilization has been demonstrated to have a positive effect on the treatment and prevention of lower extremity conditions.9 These orthotics have also been shown to improve the balance and proprioceptive balance in the same group of experienced golfers used in the Stude-Gullickson study.1
It should be noted that the golfers analyzed by Stude and Gullickson:
The golfers above were all tested using a Bel-Tronic Swing Mate which offered several options, such as club head speed, average speed for up to ten swings, and extrapolated distance.
The average club head speed for these golfers was increased by 3-5 mph, which equates to an average 9-15 yards of increase distance. The orthotics worn by these golfers were also significantly influential in reducing the effects of fatigue associated after nine holes of simulated golf. This relationship is very important to competitive golfers, since an increase in distance could mean the difference between winning and losing.
This study demonstrated that Foot Levelers' custom-made flexible orthotics (no other orthotic has ever been tested) had a positive influence on club head velocity and fatigue in experienced golfers.
* Dr. David E. Stude, Associate Professor/CCS Faculty Clinician, Northwestern University of Health Sciences, Bloomington, MN
** Dr. Jeff Gullickson, Private Practice, Edina, MN
1. Stude DE, Gullickson J. The effects of orthotic intervention and nine holes of simulated golf on club head velocity in experienced golfers. J Manip Physiol Ther, 2000; 23(3):168-174.
2. Stude DE, Brink DK. Effects of nine holes of simulated golf and orthotic intervention on balance and proprioception in experienced golfers. J Manip Physiol Ther 1997; 20 590-601.
3. Angus C. The influence of the lower extremities upon the structural integrity of the body. J Am Osteopath Assoc 1950; 49:553-556.
4. Radin EL, Yang KH, Reigger C, Kish VL, O'Conner JJ. Relationship between lower limb dynamics and knee joint pain. J Orthop Res 1991; 9:398-405.
5. Bailey HW. Theoretical significance of postural imbalance, especially the short leg. J Am Osteopath Assoc 1978; 77:452-5.
6. Wiren G. Laws, principles and preferences - a teaching model. In Cochran AJ (ed.), Science and Golf. London: E & FN Spon, 1990:3-13.
7. Williams KR, Cavanagh PR The mechanics of foot action during the golf swing and implications of shoe design. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1983; 15:247-55.
8. Kuhn DR, Shibley NJ, Austin WM, Yochum TR. Radiographic evaluation of weight bearing orthotics and their effect on flexible pes planus. J Manip Physiol Ther 1999; 22(4):221-226.
9. Austin WM. Shin splints with underlying posterior tibial tendinitis: a case report. J Sports Chiro Rehab 1996; 10(4):163-168.
Reprinted from Success Express Volume 20 Number 3
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