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Wednesday's with WVPT

December 7th, 2016

Author: Ryan Hubbard
Hip Range of Motion and Its Importance for the Golf Swing
Hi everyone, welcome to the third edition of “Wednesdays with WVPT”.  Hope you all have recovered from the holiday and are ready to kick it into gear for your golf offseason program, transitioning to simulators or continuing your normal exercise routine.  Hopefully I can give you some more tips today to incorporate in your stretching routine focusing on hip range of motion.  I treat a lot of golfers and non-golfers, who present in the clinic with “tight” hips, meaning decreased range of motion.  This not only limits us with functional aspects of our daily life (squatting to pick up objects, etc.) but also in recreational activities that are important to us such as golf.  Tightness in our hips can cause a myriad of issues including; low back pain, knee pain, and early osteoarthritis.  I have also seen shoulder pain in the lead side in some golfers if they have limitations in hip rotation of their trail hip.  

The human hip is a ball and socket joint which makes it one of our more mobile joints.  Mobile joints need to have more range of motion for us to move, but they inherently lack stability because of this.  Therefore, the surrounding joints of the hip need to be more stable in order to make up for this mobility in our functional movements.  In this scenario the movement is the golf swing.  The hip is sandwiched above by the low back and below by the knee.  If the hips are unable to move as freely as they should during the golf swing, our back or knees have to compensate and extra forces are absorbed.  This leads to joint dysfunction and ultimately pain, especially with something as repetitive as the golf swing.  As study by Vad et al. in 2004 studied 42 professional golfers, 14 of which had been experiencing low back pain.  Of those 14 golfers they all had restricted lead hip internal rotation, external rotation, and lumbar (low back) extension in common.  It is not a coincidence that these golfers happen to have restricted hip range of motion.
Now, how can a hip become “tight”? (simplified version)
  1. Normal aging: as we age our joint capsules, muscles, and tendons become less extensible.  
  2. Genetics: our bony anatomy may differ which can alter the way the ball fits into the socket and the angle of the ball projecting from the femur bone
  3. Weakness: weak muscles surrounding our hip tend to tighten and become restricted to compensate
As a physical therapist, I can help golfers with numbers 1 and 3.  I can can’t magically alter your genetics, but there are techniques to improve hip mechanics based upon bony anatomy as well.  Below are some stretches that I use with my patients on a day to day basis to maximize hip range of motion.
Hip Drops:
Stork Turns:
Ryan Hubbard, DPT, TPI Certified Level 1
If you are experiencing pain in your hips or any other body parts, you may benefit from being examined by a physical therapist.  Please contact us at Willem Verweij and Associates Physical Therapy at (603) 335-4700, we would be happy to help you.