Walking: Live Longer, Play Worse?

September 2008

It had to be coincidence. On the same day, two studies were announced that might have golfers scratching their heads about whether to walk or ride when they play.

First, the good news for walkers: Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, found that golfers who regularly walked when they played lived, on average, five years longer than the general population, regardless of sex and social group. Their death rate was cut by 40 percent. The study was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports and was based on data from 300,000 golfers.

Now, the bad news: Two American researchers concluded that the swing mechanics of golfers who walk tend to deteriorate as a round progresses. "The study suggests that golf mechanics change, and performance might decline the longer the golfer walks and swings," says Nick Higdon, a graduate student at Ball State University.

The report, presented at the 55th American College of Sports Medicine's annual meeting by Higdon and Eric Dugan, an assistant professor of Physical Education at Ball State, said that golfers had increasing difficulty in transferring their weight into their lead leg during the downswing. This resulted in a slower swing speed and an altered path.

Only seven golfers were tested, and the group shot between 80 and 95. Higdon didn't want to discourage walking. He said being in better shape can counter the effects.


Loose Lips Help Tendinitis

Like many golfers, European tour player and 2005 U.S. Amateur champ Edoardo Molinari suffers from tendinitis in his left wrist. And when the usual treatments didn't help, he sought the advice of the doctors and trainers on the AC Milan soccer team in Italy, who prescribed an unusual treatment.

"They told me that the way I close my mouth, all of the muscles in the left side of my body tightened up," Molinari said. "And the tendon was getting inflamed. So they put a small [rubber guard] in my mouth, and I've felt very good, and I've had no more pain in the wrist."

The theory is that keeping the mouth from closing completely reduces body tension and pain.

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