Hole in One: Improve Your Golf Game & Hip Mobility

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With the Masters coming up this weekend, we thought this was the perfect time to help out our local golfers. If you suffer from poor hip mobility or just want to improve your golf game and lower your risk of injury, we’ve got some great exercises for you!

The Rotation

Golf swings come in many forms. One of the biggest issues that kills speed is the lack of internal hip rotation. To check your internal hip rotation, sit on a chair and make two fists. Put the fists between your knees and keep your knees against your fists as you try to move your feet outward. This outward movement is internal hip rotation; your legs are moving out, but your hips are turning in. This is the motion that occurs in the hip joint during a good swing. A right-handed golfer rotates around the right hip, shifts their weight, then rotates back around the left hip. The average PGA tour player has over 45 degrees of internal hip rotation on both sides. If you suffer from a sway or slide in your golf swing and lack the power you really want, the first thing you need to check is your internal hip rotation. You can bet it will be limited if you suffer from the sway and slide swing fault.

Problems

Lack of internal hip rotation can be the cause of tight hamstrings and lower back pain as well as knee and ankle problems. Your hip joint needs to be very mobile to withstand both direct loading stresses and large rotational forces with weight-bearing activities. As a result, it is especially vulnerable to injury in sports that involve pivoting or twisting movements, such as golf. In golf, your hip is especially exposed to high-velocity internal rotation on the downswing. This requires a great deal of strength in the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, two of the muscles that make up your butt. To minimize your risk of injury, it’s important to make sure your hip mobility is adequate.

About the Hips

Diagram of the hip muscles, specifically showing the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, muscles that are important in the game of golf. These muscles are involved in hip rotation and are critical for hip mobility.

The hips are dynamic movers and perform for you in different ways. Specifically for the golf swing, the hips are responsible for several critical tasks. Your hips contribute to postural stability, lower body movement control, and drive rotation and power.

  • Posture Control Through the Hips: Posture control is critical in the golf swing. It affects how consistently you hit the golf ball and how much rotation you can achieve on your backswing.
  • Golf Swing Stability: The muscles on the sides of your hips, the gluteus medius, are important factors to your swing stability. These muscles provide side to side stability and prevent swaying. They also keep your hips from dipping. The better you are at limiting motions other than rotation, the better your game will be. Your hips are key in achieving this goal.
  • Golf Swing Drive: Probably the most well known job of the hip muscles in the golf swing is rotation. Having strong hip muscles, that lead the downswing, will help you get your swing on plane and hit the ball far enough to improve your greens in regulation.

Golf Exercises for Your Hips

Unless you spend A LOT of time working out, you should avoid exercises that isolate a muscle.

Instead, you should work on exercises that work multiple muscles together, with more dynamic movement patterns…just like how they are required to work in your golf swing.

  • Side lunge with hip rotation (Golfer Stretch): Step to the right, bending your right knee and leaving your left knee straight. Rotate your right foot 90 degrees to the right, followed by your hips and shoulders.  Place your left arm outside of your right hip to add to the stretch. You should feel a stretch in both hips as well as your back. Perform 4-8 repetitions to each position and then repeat on the opposite leg. This stretch will help increase your hip mobility.

The key to this exercise is to notice that the golfer’s back remains flat throughout the exercise. Don’t let your back round down when you reach with your arms.
  • Banded Hip Rotation: This is a great, simple exercise for strengthening your hips. Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps then repeat with the opposite leg.
  • Defensive Glide: This is a great exercise for strengthening your hips. Perform 5-10 steps in each direction. Repeat 3-5 times. The strength of the band determines the difficulty of the exercise.

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