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Science Takes A Swing at "Yips"

Golf movement oddity may be akin to writer's cramp, study finds

THURSDAY, April 14, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- "Yips," an annoying but common muscle condition familiar to many golfers, may be a task-specific movement disorder -- much like a musician's or writer' cramp, according to a study presented April 14 at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Miami Beach, Fla.

Yips prevents golfers from completing a stroke in the appropriate way. It often occurs during putting or chipping, and tends to worsen when a golfer is anxious.

The study included 10 male golfers with the yips and 10 others who were yips-free. A high-tech scan called electromyography (EMG) was used to assess the participants' muscle activity while sitting at rest, arms extended, and during handwriting; while standing at rest; while holding a putter at rest; and while using their own putter for 75 putts from three, six and eight feet.

"None of the golfers had any abnormal movements in the rest position, outstretched arms position, or while writing or standing holding the putter," study co-author Dr. Charles H. Adler of the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, said in a prepared statement.

"While only two of the golfers felt they had their yips in the lab, under all putting conditions, 50 percent of the golfers with the yips had EMG evidence of co-contractions of muscles in the forearm just prior to the impact of the putter with the ball. The co-contractions were similar to those of task-specific dystonias -- or movement disorders -- such as writer's cramp and musician's cramp," Adler said.

None of the golfers who were yips-free showed any sign of co-contraction, the researchers added.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has advice on how to prevent some common golf injuries.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, April 14, 2005
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