By Christopher C. Hanson, PT, MPT, DMT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Most golfers are weekend warriors and if there is extra time in anyone’s schedule for golf activities, more times than not this is allocated to swing training. As the last few articles have discussed, physical fitness is equally important. In order to have a world class swing, the function of one’s musculoskeletal system also needs to be equipped. Golf is a sport that requires strength, power, coordination and mobility; no one of these is more important than the other. This weekly dive into the physical care of a golfer’s body will discuss the importance of hip mobility and stability in all golfers.
In the golf community the importance of spinal mobility and strength is well documented. There have been numerous social media campaigns since the start of this golf season showing new creative ways to improve spinal mobility and strength. However, absent from these posts have been ways to improve hip strength and mobility; negating altogether the connection between the hip and the spine.
The hip and the spine are intricately related. If one has movement issues in one area, it can transmit increased forces along the kinetic (movement) chain. In the presence of hip mobility issues the body increases motion in other joints. The body is almost too good at this compensation and creating more (too much) movement in order to allow someone to function in a way that seems correct. In the presence of limited hip mobility there may be an excessive forces through the lumbar spine. This can happen at different points in the swing. Limited hip mobility can create issues in the back swing, during the initiation of swing and during the follow through. This also relates to other sporting activities as well.
The hip is a joint that has sacrificed mobility for stability. The hip has 6 prime movements: flexion, extension, abduction, adduction and two forms of rotation (external and internal). The hips ability to extend backward, rotate inward and rotate outward are the primary movements lost. A loss of the ability to move the hip backward becomes an issue for the back leg on the swing’s follow through. If that motion is lost, the spine will extend to compensate, and this can create spinal pain. Limited rotational motion of the hip may also create issues during the swing. The compensation could be in the form of excessive lumbar rotation, but as explained earlier, it may also be extension or side bending.
With all of that being said, the key point is that hip mobility issues can have profound effects on one’s swing. This is a topic that has been proven in peer review research, finding that golfers with back pain also had limited hip mobility.
Hip strength is equally important and mobility for the golf swing. Golfers that have imbalances in their hip strength will have swing balance, swing force and overall control issues. During the swing, if the hips cannot control the motion, it may cause the golfer’s body to over rotate and thus compensation. The hip is very important when it comes to lower extremity balance. The hip is the second strategy for balance, only second to the ankle. Understanding the importance of hip strength or motor control can help set the foundation for a great swing.
Working with a trained physical therapist and a TPI certified swing coach can help to ensure that your mobility and motor control is supremely functional to maximize your swing potential. Physical therapists are experts in movement. A therapist working closely with your current swing practice and exercise regimen can help make necessary adjustments to allow one to enjoy the game that we all love a little bit more.
SHORE ORTHOPAEDIC UNIVERSITY ASSOCIATES The Board-Certified physicians at Shore Orthopaedic University Associates are trained in the practice of general orthopaedics; additionally each of our doctors has devoted additional training and surgical expertise in orthopaedic sub-specialties. The surgeons at Shore Orthopaedic University Associates are experts in diagnosing musculoskeletal disorders, identifying and treating injuries, providing rehabilitation to an affected area and establishing a prevention protocol to inhibit further damage to a diseased area or component of the musculoskeletal system.
SHORE ORTHOPAEDIC PHYSICAL THERAPY Following a thorough evaluation, our licensed therapists provide each patient with an individualized treatment approach. Our ultimate goal is obtaining superior functional outcomes that allow patients to return to a full life of sports, work, and recreation.
Christopher C. Hanson, PT, MPT, DMT, OCS, FAAOMPT is the Center Manager of Shore Orthopaedic Physical Therapy in Cape May Court House, NJ
This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice.
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