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, can 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?
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 one of my personal favorites. 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, your alignment is off.
3. Timing of muscle activation is important for the sequence of your swing, but also for injury prevention. Your core muscles should be turned on first, followed by your glutes. 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
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.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.
6. 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.
Gregory Reinhardt is a physical therapist with the Hospital for Special Surgery Rehabilitation Department. He holds a Doctorate degree in physical therapy and is certified with the United States Golf Teachers Federation-Level II. Greg was an integral part of the team that developed the HSS Protect Your Game golf portal and appears in many of the videos.