Instability is a condition caused by too much motion within the hip joint. Typically this is due to loose, non-muscular stabilizing structures, such as ligaments, that surround the hip. The condition is called hypermobility, and people are sometimes said to have loose joints.
Hip joint hypermobility refers specifically to an increase in the tiny movements or joint mechanics we see within the ball and socket joint during larger hip activities. The joint mechanics allow for motion of the ball within the socket in many directions: front and back, side to side, up and down, and rotation. These movements give the hip the large range of mobility that we need to function, however, when there is little or no restraint to this motion, the hip can become unstable.
When the hip is unstable, the ball or socket movements are excessive, and this can cause a cartilage tear or a sprain. Muscles may also get overworked as they try to stabilize the joint. A muscle that is forced to work too hard over a long period of time, which can happen during a round of golf, can become strained and sore or can develop tendonitis.
The excess hip motion and lack of stability can result in a loss of power, a loss of efficiency and/or joint/muscular pain or injury.
Guidelines and Precautions for Golfers with Hip Instability
- Be certain to maintain good alignment and posture at set up/stance. Although you may not be able to maintain it throughout the entire swing, it will not occur at all if the set up position is incorrect.
- Practice skills and drills that focus on linking the lower body with the upper body to ensure that there is no loss of power.
- Develop strength in the core, including the deep abdominal and spine muscles, gluteal (buttock) muscle group and hip rotators to ensure that hip and pelvis stability are maintained throughout the swing.
- Since instability usually occurs in the front of the hip, the rear leg would be affected at impact and follow through, whereas the lead leg would be affected during take away. Therefore, it may be necessary to modify these motions if pain occurs or persists.
- Keep in mind that symptoms may change from day to day. In some cases, one day it may hurt the rear leg more on the backswing, and on other days the front leg may be affected on the followthrough.
- Avoid extreme rotation of the front hip during the backswing or the rear hip during impact and followthrough.