Spinal and metabolic loading during simulations of golf play

J Sports Sci. 1993 Dec;11(6):511-5. doi: 10.1080/02640419308730021.


Changes in stature during physical activity reflect alterations in spinal column length that occur as a result of loading the spine. The shrinkage is associated with loss of intervertebral disc height. This study aimed to measure both the load on the spine during simulations of a round of golf and the physiological responses to carrying golf clubs. Fine measurement of stature was achieved using a computer-linked stadiometer inclined to 13 degrees. Shrinkage was measured (n = 6) after performance regimens which mimicked (1) the ambulatory activity during golf play, (2) ambulation and skills employed in par performance and (3) ambulation and carriage of clubs. Our observations indicate significant shrinkage associated with golf skills, mean shrinkage after nine holes being 2.53 mm compared to 1.78 mm in the walking condition. The highest shrinkage was observed when the player carried his clubs, the amount of stature loss being 4.76 mm over nine holes. The highest rates of shrinkage occurred over the first three holes. In a second experiment to further examine the effects of carrying the golf clubs, five of the subjects walked on a motor-driven treadmill at 5 km h-1 for 5 min. Carrying the clubs caused a 15% increase in VO2 and a 25% rise in VE compared to normal walking. Increases were found also in perceived exertion. The physical and physiological loadings associated with recreational golf were deemed to be light to moderate and do not denote undue strain in occasional practices.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Golf / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Spine / anatomy & histology
  • Spine / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing