The hip is called a ball-and-socket joint. The "ball" refers to the rounded upper part of the femur, or thigh bone, which fits into a cup-shaped hollow socket in the large pelvis bone.
Twenty-nine different muscles come into play in a properly functioning hip joint. Muscles perform a critical role in hip movement and must work in concert with each other to allow the hip to bend, extend, rotate and move outward and across the body. This variability in movement makes hip strength and motion a vital part of the golf swing, but it also makes the hip prone to many types of injuries.
Hip Joint and Ligaments
Range of Motion
Golfers may either lack range of motion or have too much motion in their hip joint. Someone who lacks range of motion will be limited in his or her golf swing. However, golfers who have too much hip motion must make a conscious effort to stop their swing at a certain point.
Golfers with limited range of motion can often remedy the problem with specific exercises and practice. The second scenario is usually more difficult to deal with because golfers need to pay careful attention and be aware of when they need to stop their backswing each time.
Hip injuries that can occur in golfers include impingement (the hip bones rub together, causing pain and potential damage to the joint), labral tears (a torn hip labrum can be likened to a torn cartilage in the knee), osteoarthritis, muscle strains and instability. Each of these injuries can have varying degrees of severity. Certain injuries may require surgery, while others may heal with more conservative treatments, such as rest and physical therapy.
Anyone who has an injury or pain that lasts for more than a few days should see a doctor. Prompt medical attention and proper care will help avoid complications and additional injury.
Golfers who have a hip problem should be aware of their limitations. They need to adhere to specific modifications in their game and take precautions to prevent further injury and maximize their potential on the course.
Golfers who experience hip instability or impingement have abnormal motion within their hip joint. Excessive motion within the joint can result in damage to the capsule, ligaments and labrum. It can force the muscles to work overtime to help stabilize the joint, and this can lead to muscle strain. Therefore, the best course of action is to limit motion within the joint.
Golfers with impingement must make changes to their swing to accommodate a change in the way the bones fit together in their hip joint. Golfers who experience hip instability must also adjust their swing, but it's more a question of muscular control and awareness to make sure the joint remains in the best possible position.