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How Can Golfers Avoid Hip Pain

Golfer swinging club

Hip pain is among the top 5 most common sites for pain in golfers. Non-structural hip pain, meaning pain that originates from your muscles or soft tissue, may be avoided with proper warm up and exercise routines that work on the mechanics of your movement during your swing. Some things to think about before you play are:

  • Are your clubs properly fit for you?
  • Have you been regularly exercising and stretching?
  • Do you currently have any hip or low back pain that may increase if you play golf?

While it is tempting to start playing as soon as you get to the golf course, it is important to arrive early and begin with a good, quality warm up routine. Within an hour before your first tee shot, perform some exercises and stretches to warm up:

1. Start with your core- it is extremely important that your deep abdominal muscles are working properly throughout your swing:

  • Think about pulling your belly button up toward your nose to engage your deep core system. You can do this while lying on your back or even while standing and walking.
  • A whole series of core exercises that you can perform at home can be found on the HSS Protect Your Game golf portal: https://hss.edu/golfportal/improve-your-game-core-exercises.htm.

2. Properly stretch and loosen up your back and hip in all planes of motion. Sufficient trunk and hip rotation range of motion is extremely important. Make sure you are able to rotate to the right and left equally:

  • The parallel club swing is a good exercise to work on rotation and ensure your trunk and core can move efficiently. This exercise is a great pre-game workup, and can not only help improve your alignment but warm up your spine as well:

Standing in a golf stance, hold 2 clubs parallel to one another

Rotating your arms and body together as one unit, swing the clubs from the backswing to the follow through

Keep your abdominals tight and your shoulders back throughout the movement

If the clubs don’t stay parallel to each other as you swing, that would indicate your alignment is off or your body is not moving together in sequence.

3. Timing of muscle activation is not only important for the sequence of your swing but also for injury prevention. Your core muscles should be turned on first, followed by your glutes, and then your trunk rotation can occur.

  • Practicing this arm-hip rotation will reinforce proper timing during your downswing:

Rotate your upper body and arms into your backswing, followed by your hips

Secondly, bring your hips back to center, followed by your upper body and arms

And finally, rotate your hips and arms together as one unit into the follow through

Your hips and shoulders should remain level, and your pelvis should remain square

For a right handed golfer, for example, your weight will shift to the right foot on the backswing, and then to the left foot on the follow through.

4. For a full range of exercise videos and hip injury prevention tips, including those shown above, visit the HSS Protect Your Game golf portal: hss.edu/hssgolf

5. Check with your local rehabilitation centers and golf courses to see if they offer a golf performance program such as the one at the HSS Tisch Sports Performance Center: https://hss.edu/golfers-performance-program.asp. These programs are specially designed for golfers of all levels, and can analyze your stance and swing and offer ideas to improve your game while preventing pain and injury.

6. If you begin to experience hip discomfort while you are playing, try to engage your abdominal and glute muscles and see if that helps. If it doesn’t, then consulting with a physician or physical therapist may be a good next step. At HSS we have highly trained physical therapists, sport performance specialists, athletic trainers, massage therapists, and nutritionists, as well as Titleist Performance Experts who can guide you through your injury recovery and put you back on the golf course as soon as possible. With locations throughout the tristate area and beyond, HSS is available to help you with any concern or injury you may have.

Reviewed on January 4, 2021

Brad Erler, HSS physical therapist

Brad Erler is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Hospital for Special Surgery. He received his Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from the University of Saint Augustine in St Augustine, FL in 2015. Prior to achieving his DPT, Brad received his Master’s degree and worked as an athletic trainer since 2006. Brad worked with both collegiate and high school athletes to prepare them for competition and rehab athletic injuries. Brad joined the HSS team in 2018 and has experience in a variety of orthopedic conditions, both surgical and non-surgical, in all age groups. Brad has a primary background in sports and manual therapy, but is also certified in Kinesiotape and is pursuing other advanced certifications.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.