Do hand grip sizes influence forearm muscle activity and golf performance during golf swings?

Graeme Sorbie, Henry Hunter, Fergal Grace, Yaodong Gu, Julien S. Baker, Ukadike Chris Ugbolue

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


INTRODUCTIONElectromyography (EMG) is a method commonly used when evaluating muscle function. It is a technique that can be used to assess and reduce the risk of injury by predicting the loads placed on the musculoskeletal system [1]. Numerous EMG studies have been performed to analyse various muscles during the golf swing in relation to injuries.Despite the high frequency rate of elbow injuries documented within golfers [2], only two previous studies have used EMGto evaluate forearm muscle activity within golfers [3,4].Glazebrook et al. (1994) [4] compared forearm muscle activity when using an arm brace and a jumbo golf grip.Although no data exists regarding the correct grip size for a golf club, researchers in the field of ergonomics and occupational medicine have investigated how performance is influenced by tool handle grip size. In theory, the optimal handle size should reduce the muscular force required for a gripping task and increase performance.The purpose of this study was to investigate what effect the golf grip has on forearm muscle activity and club head speed(CHS).
METHODSFifteen right-handed male golfers participated in this laboratory based study. The mean age of the golfers was 23.3 years (range: 20-32 years).The experimental set-up included: an artificial golf mat; an enclosed golf net; an 8-camera Vicon Nexus Bonita Motion Analysis System; a Myon 320 Surface EMG System and a Voice Caddie Swing Launch Monitor SC 100 GPS to calculate CHS. Participants tested the three different grip sizes (undersize,standard and jumbo) attached to three Taylormade SpeedBlade 7-irons. All of the grips were provided by Golf Pride.Five consecutive shots were hit with each grip size.The data from the five golf swings were averaged within and between participants. Five phases of the golf swing were analysed. Muscle activity during the golf swing was expressed as a percentage of the MVC. All EMG and performance data were analysed for statistical significance using a one-way ANOVA.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONNo significant differences (P>0.05) were displayed in forearm muscle activity between the undersize, standard and jumbo on the lead or trail arm at any of the five phases of the golf swing. On average, the standard and jumbo grips had greater muscle activation levels in all five phases of the golfswing on both the lead and trail arm.The undersize grip displayed a significantly greater CHS compared to the standard and jumbo grips (p=0.044). On average the CHS were as follows: undersize 125.51 ± 8.62km/h; standard: 121.72 ± 8.55 km/h; jumbo 120.35 ± 7.27km/h.In relation to sport, Hatch et al., (2006) reported there was no significant difference in force produced by the forearm when testing three standard grip sizes available to tennis athletes, and thus it was unlikely grip force had a major effect on forearm and elbow injuries. Specific to golf, Glazebrook et al., (1994) [4] reported that there was no significant difference in muscle activity in flexor or extensor muscles in the forearm when using a brace or oversized grips when testing symptomatic and healthy patients. These researchers,however, did not take into consideration the different phases of the golf swing or performance variables. The present study suggests that using a smaller grip could increase swing speed and, therefore, increase performance. This increase in CHS may be explained by the increased muscle activity produced by the ECRB muscle in the lead arm when using the undersize grip during the downswing phase of the golf swing. These results are similar to suggestions made by leading tennis manufacturers.
CONCLUSIONSTo summarise, the results of this study showed that there were no significant differences in the muscle activity produced by the forearm whilst using three different sized golf grips. The results also suggest that an undersized grip does significantly increase CHS and, therefore, could increase the performance of the golfer.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThe authors will like to thank the staff at MYON for theirassistance with the Myon 320 system during this study.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Sixth Asian Society of Sport Biomechanics Conference (ASSB 2016)
Subtitle of host publicationAsian Sport Biomechanics Research Trend, Ningo, China, October 13-16, 2016
EditorsJianshe Li, Yaodong Gu
PublisherIACSIT Press
Number of pages1
ISBN (Print)978-981-09-9584-3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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