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Father's Day Gift Ideas for Dad and Grandpa

The Anchor ® Golf Training Aid:
Does it help improve your golf swing, or also promote a safer swing?

By: Dr. Brian McKeon, MD
Orthopedic Sports Medicine
Chief Medical Officer, Boston Celtics
Inventor of The Anchor ® Golf Swing Training Aid

My motivation to design, construct and thrice patent this golf training aid 10 years ago was purely based on my passion for improving my golf swing. I realized that I had a technical problem with my own swing. I swayed off the golf ball and had a reverse pivot. I lost my spine angle and "came out of my shots". Sound familiar? I was addicted to golf and had to find a way to improve my mechanics. After reading many books and watching hundreds of Golf professionals on video I came to the realization that the single most consistent swing mechanic was lower body stability. Specifically, I noted in almost all swings the right knee (righty golfer) stayed at a consistent angle throughout the entire swing. I fell in love with Ben Hogan's swing. My understanding of Ben Hogan's swing was the principal motivating factor for me to design and create this powerful swing training aid that I ended up calling. Working through several iterations, I finally designed the final golf swing training aid that is available today.

After obtaining the first of three patents, a golf professional friend of mine told me to buy a book written by Ben Hogan's lifetime caddy Jody Vasquez called Afternoons with Mr. Hogan. The whole purpose of the book was to reveal Ben Hogan's true secret of the golf swing. Of course many of us are aware of Mr. Hogan's famous "The modern fundamentals of golf" book, but Jody notes that Ben Hogan kept his most important secret from the golf world: he was tremendously competitive. I was floored when I read page 53, which stated the "true secret of the golf swing was maintaining the right knee flexion angle on the back and forward swings". Since then, I can't tell you how many live television video reviews and articles that I have seen and read in the golf publications that have talked about the critical importance of maintaining lower body stability with particular reference to the right knee flexion angle in a right handed golfer. In Tiger Woods' book How I Play Golf, page 162 notes the importance of keeping the right knee flexion angle. The lead article in this month's Golf Digest February issue features Butch Harmon extolling one of the most critical aspects of the golf swing is to maintain the right knee flexion angle. I have shown this training aid to well over 40 golf professionals and have had excellent feedback. I have no doubt this unique golf training aid significantly helps the golfer improve their lower body mechanics.

I am a Sports Medicine specialist with the opportunity to take care of some of the greatest athletes in the world. Hence, everyone assumes my invention is intended for medical purposes. I am constantly being asked "does this training aid prevent injury?", or "is this a medical device?". A Sports Medicine physician, or in fact any physician, always promotes and recommends prevention, hence I understand the inquiry. I am constantly trying to understand the biomechanics of sports and teach my patients safety and prevention programs that would help reduce musculoskeletal overload or injury. My original answer to the question above was absolutely "no". I intended to market and sell the Anchor strictly as a "golf training aid". However, after further and more in depth review of the modern golf swing mechanics I have reconsidered. Golf, just like any sport, involves the entire kinetic chain. The golfer uses their body as a source of energy to catapult the golf ball. In fact, a very similar sequence of motion while throwing a javelin, a baseball or even a knockout punch. The concept of maintaining angles, keeping proper joint alignment, and sequential loading of muscles to provide the platform for a safe and efficient athletic motion is the basic principle. A caveman throwing a stone at a wooly mammoth, David using his sling against Goliath, and Tiger Woods ripping a 300+ yard drive all have nearly identical energy transfer patterns. The Anchor Golf Training Aid encourages a "safe" and "efficient" swing.

Great Father's Day Gift Ideas!

With Father's Day coming up, ActiveForever is your source for thoughtful and useful Fathers Day gifts for Dad or Grandpa. We offer a wide variety of gifts for dads, including those who are active, love to golf, suffer from aches and pains, enjoy taking care of their yard, and much more. Browse the great selection Father's Day gifts below or call (800) 377-8033 for more suggestions.

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Dr Ho HoPhysio Decompression Belt
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Versa Bell II Adjustable Dumbbell System
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The Anchor Golf Swing Training Aid by PerseusThe Anchor Golf Swing Training Aid by PerseusThe Anchor Golf Swing Training Aid by PerseusThe Anchor Golf Swing Training Aid by Perseus

I give a lot of credit to my good friend, Chuck Quinton, a golf pro now teaching in the Orlando area (www.rotarygolf.com), for teaching me the important biomechanical facts of a safe golf swing. I now realize that when somebody asks me if the golf training aid has a medical application, my answer is a resounding "yes". Last week I was watching the Torrey Pines Golf Tournament telecast. Phil Mickelson was making his 2010 debut, and I chuckled as I listened to golf analyst Peter Kostis evaluate Phil's improved swing using the Biz Hub swing vision camera. He stated Phil Mickelson had increased his swing speed by 2 miles an hour, but more importantly, and certainly more impressively, he had become much more accurate with his driver. He relates the number one reason why Phil has been able to produce these changes is the ability for him to maintain his body angles, most notably his left knee flexion angle (which would be the same for a right knee for a right handed golfer) throughout his swing. He also notes that Phil now has a shorter and compact swing as a result. The combination of my knowledge of musculoskeletal mechanics, Chuck Quinton's principles, reading tons of articles and books on knee flexion stability, and listening to Peter Kostis' analysis cemented my conclusion that maintaining knee flexion angles will provide safety in your golf swing.

One of the number one causes of golf injuries is certainly over-swinging and musculoskeletal instability resulting from poor support. Maintaining a stable base from which you build and develop force to transfer the golf ball is absolutely critical. While it is believed amateur golfers injuries are related to poor mechanics, and professionals injuries result from overuse, the golf injury statistics are staggering amongst amateurs and professional golfers. Many of these injuries can be prevented. Going back to Peter Kostis' analysis of Phil Mickelson's 2010 swing, one of the more important things he said is that by maintaining the correct knee flexion angle, Phil has been able to shorten his swing. By shortening his swing, he thereby decreases the force on his spine and shoulders, basically his entire musculoskeletal system. The Anchor Golf Swing Training Aid definitely helps achieve this goal. Eliminating excess motion (such as swaying or "coming out of your swing") allows the golfer to turn around their spine in a safe manner, as taught by Chuck Quinton. Therefore the athletic golfer is in a much safer and biomechanically effective position. The golfer will actually increase their swing speed as noted above and others have documented this fact.

A good example of golf musculoskeletal overload and subsequent joint arthritis is Jack Nicklaus left hip. He had hip replacement surgery at my institution, the New England Baptist Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Through impact position Jacks left lower extremity is poorly aligned (figure 1 at right). Tiger Woods' left lower extremity in comparison is in much better alignment (figure 2 at right). This mal-alignment exposed Jack's left hip to repetitive overload and stress. This is a violation of a fundamental concept in musculoskeletal mechanics. Simply put, if a joint stays in proper alignment, the muscles designed to protect that joint can work effectively and evenly. If a golfer sways and his left hip "gets out away from him" then that hip is at risk for injury and increased sheer forces. These are basic biomechanical concepts that anyone can understand. Joints are covered by a smooth shiny surface called articular or hyaline cartilage. Most joints can handle compression loads and even tension loads. However, joints, in fact all tissues, fail more easily with sheer loads. For instance, a drummer can tap their foot up and down fairly aggressively all night without any issues. But if they were to slide their foot back and forth on the ground, as if they were putting out a cigarette, they would develop a blister very quickly. All musculoskeletal tissue will fail eventually with repetitive shear forces. This is what I believe was the cause of Jack Nicklaus's hip osteoarthritis (a failure of cartilage tissue). Again, the critical concept is that the joint is more protected when all the muscles are acting in an equal manner with proper alignment which creates a powerful and more effective platform.

Golf Swing

Like many amateur and professional golfers Jack Nicklaus also had significant back pain. The same laws of mechanics apply. Figures 3 and 4 reveal the differences in Jacks and Tigers spinal alignment at follow through. Which swing puts the spinal column at risk? It's a pretty easy answer. Clearly Tiger is the golfer with much better spinal alignment. Maintenance of alignment minimizes overstressing the musculoskeletal system. It's that simple.

I think it is important for coaches, players and athletes in any sport understand these principles. I do believe that training regimens should be based upon these sound principles of musculoskeletal alignment which confers stability and therefore safety. Thus the athlete, no matter what sport, can protect their musculoskeletal system and prevent or at least, minimize injury. This type of functional training is well underway. ACL injuries are an epideimic in female cutting sports such as basketball and soccer with a much higher incidence compared to males. One likely cause is improper landing patterns with poor lower extremity malalignment in female gender. Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) prevention training programs in females have been shown to reduce injury. By now the reader should get the point and understand the advantages and safety of loading properly aligned joints.

One last important concept is that musculoskeletal efficiency and transfer of power is tremendously more effective with proper musculoskeletal alignment. Phil Mickelson's 2010 golf swing is a clear example of this extra power and accuracy that can be harnessed. This applies not only to golf, but any sport. Boxing, tennis and lacrosse for example.

I conclude that Anchor Golf Swing Training Aid has both golf improvement and golf safety attributes. We are performing biomechanical studies to solidify these concepts because I believe a Golf training aid should promote efficiency, stability and safety during this powerful and explosive athletic maneuver.

Golf Swing

About Dr. Brian McKeon, inventory of the Anchor Golf Swing Training Aid

Recognized as one of the 25 Best Knee Surgeons in the United States, Dr. Brian McKeon serves as the chief medical officer and team physician for the Boston Celtics basketball team. Dr. McKeon received his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine and is a member of the American Orthopaedic Society of Sports Medicine, the Arthroscopy Association of North America, the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery and the International College of Repair Society. In addition to operating on top athletes, Dr. McKeon balances his scientific investigation with the development of products that prevent injury and support athletic performance, such as the Anchor Golf Swing Training Aid.

References:

  • Hogan,B. The Modern fundamentals of golf. Simon and Schuster, NY. 1957.
  • Vasquez , J. Afternoons with Mr. Hogan. Gotham Books, NY. 2004
  • Woods, T. How I play Golf. Warner Books, NY. 2001.
  • Harmon, B. Nick Watney's power pointers. Golf Digest (feb), 2010, pp.
  • McCaroll J.R. The frequency of golf injuries, Clinics in sports med, 1996, 15(1): 1-7.
  • McHardy A, Pollard H, Luo K. Golf Injuries: review of the literature. Sports Med. 2006;36(2):171-87.
  • McHardy A, Pollard H, Luo K. One-year follow-up studies on golf injuries in Australian amateur golfers. Am J Sports Med. 2007 Aug;35(8):1354-60. Epub 2007 Mar 26.
  • Bulbulian R, Ball K, Seaman DR. The short golf backswing: effects on performance and spinal health implications. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2001 Nov-Dec;24(9):569-75.
  • Gluck GS, Bendo JA, Spivak JM. The lumbar spine and low back pain in golf; a literature review of swing biomechanics and injury prevention. Spine J. 2008 Sep-Oct;8(5):778-88. Epub 2007 Oct 15.
  • Grimshaw P, Giles A, Tong R, Grimmer K. Lower back and elbow injuries in golf. Sports Med. 2002;32(10):655-66.
  • Reed JJ, Wadsworth LT. Lower back pain in golf. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2010 Jan-Feb;9(1):57-9.
  • Lindsay D, Horton J. Comparison of spine motion in elite golfers with and without low back pain. J Sports Sci. 2002 Aug;20(8):599-605.
  • Gilchrist J, Mandelbaum BR, Melancon H, Ryan GW, Silvers HJ, Griffin LY, Watanabe DS, Dick RW, Dvorak J. A randomized controlled trial to prevent noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injury in female collegiate soccer players. Am J Sports Med. 2008 Aug;36(8):1476-83.

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