Mind your back – electric trolleys can reduce fatigue and injury risks

Golf physiotherapist Andrew Caldwell has produced a review of the research lieterature into the positive health benefits of electric golf trolleys for PowaKaddy. Here are his findings.

Electric golf trolley brands have long extolled the virtues of their products in terms of the health benefits they offer. It is, after all, highly logical that choosing not to carry a dead weight over four or so miles would help to preserve your physical fitness than doing the exact opposite, given the risk of over exerting muscles or exacerbating existing injuries. PowaKaddy-Andrew-Caldwell

While this train of thought is indeed reasonable, there has been little research compiled on the subject to put these ‘theories’ to the test, rendering any conclusions about the advantages of using powered golf trolleys on physical performance, at best, unverified and at worst, inconclusive.

Consequently PowaKaddy has enlisted the help of Andrew Caldwell MCSP, a specialist golf physiotherapist and clinical director of Active Therapy, to appraise the research evidence relating to bag carrying and electric trolley use. “Although many claims have been made about the health benefits of electric trolley use for many years now, this is the first literature review to evaluate factors such as energy expenditure cost, injury risk and golf performance,” said Caldwell. “Due to PowaKaddy commissioning this review, we have attained further information based on the current evidence, which examines the potential benefits of electric trolley use for golfers.”

As well as potentially elevating the likelihood of musculoskeletal injuries by repeatedly lifting a golf bag from stationary using an asymmetrical lift, carrying was shown to contribute to the onset of ‘Golf Specific Fatigue’, which can result in reduced clubhead velocity. During his analysis of golf-specific studies relating to bag carrying, Caldwell found that the more demanding nature of carrying a bag could, in fact, contribute to a 2.5 percent reduction clubhead speed over the course of a round of golf, which translates to a loss of up to ten yards on tee shots.

Although stating that injuries cannot be prevented, Caldwell indicated his belief that use of an electric trolley may offer significant benefits for certain golfers. “By reducing the cycles of asymmetrical lifting of a heavy golf bag from the ground after each shot, golfers can reduce the risk of back strain if they are less well conditioned, particularly as they become fatigued towards the end of their round. Also, for those with physical limitations, which prevent them from carrying the ten to 15kg weight of a golf bag, the use of an electric trolley may allow them to continue to achieve the exercise benefits of golf without the higher tissue loads encountered when carrying.

“Additionally, in my experience, most recreational golfers don’t train to match the physiological demands of golf. If golfers are not conditioned to meet or exceed these demands, research suggests that fatigue can be encountered. Use of an electric trolley may reduce these effects and therefore has the potential to enhance the performance in the less well conditioned golfer. It can also facilitate optimal performance during competitive golf for both elite and recreational golfers.”

Having commissioned this report, PowaKaddy, following the launch of its 2015 Freeway electric trolley range, the company is in a position to have long-held beliefs on the benefits of electric trolley use verified through scientific study. The company’s CEO, David Catford, commented, “Through his work, Andrew has highlighted the problems that can be caused by carrying a golf bag. This supports our position that electric trolleys are not only good for your health, but also for your game. This is a message we think will be valuable for all golfers, regardless of age or ability, when thinking about how they transport their golf clubs around the golf course. Carrying a bag puts you at a disadvantage. This alone should be enough to persuade all golfers to consider an electric trolley.”

As a golf physiotherapist and performance consultant, Caldwell devotes much of his time treating patients who have developed issues while playing the sport. As a result he offers advice about ways in which golfers can reduce the chances of injury and extend their enjoyment of the game long into the future. “The most preventable musculoskeletal injury encountered by both amateur and professional golfers is spinal pain, in particular, lower back pain, with 25 percent taking more than one month to recover from such pain. If we understand the loads upon the body during golf, then we can develop an exercise plan which matches or exceeds these requirements, therefore reducing injury risk and enhancing performance.”

Andrew Caldwell is a chartered physiotherapist, athletic development consultant and clinical director of Active Therapy – Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic at The Chase Golf Health Club & Spa, Penkridge, Stafford – www.active-therapy.com

To find out more about the benefits of electric trolley use or to view PowaKaddy’s 2015 Freeway range, visit www.powakaddy.co.uk