Mobility for the Golf Swing, Part II: The Hips
One of the biggest limitations I see in recreational golfers while playing is the lack of ability to generate hip rotation. This is evident from the start of the golf swing all the way to the finish at impact. So why is hip rotation important in the golf swing?
The main benefits from improved rotation and mobility for the hips are as follows. 1) Better ability to generate power from the ground up with the take away of the golf club to the top. 2) The ability to generate better club head speed. 3) Increase in distance off the tee from transfer of impact on golf club to ball contact. Referring to the first article in the series, I talk about ground reaction force (GRF). GRF is where power is generated up from the ground when the lower body is pushing force down towards the ground.
Hip rotation uses that force to maximize the body’s ability to use the power being generated. The GRF finishes at the mid line and the force is then transferred down to the hips to generate power that is needed for increased club head speed. The golfers that can hit the ball the farthest and generate the most club head speed use hip rotation efficiently. That means using GRF to their advantage by creating full hip rotation from the start of the golf swing to the finish at impact. A lack of hip rotation will cause golfers to lose distance they can hit the golf ball along with it not being an optimal way to swing the golf club.
More often than not, the shoulder and the mid-back/thoracic spine are focused on in the golf swing for rotation. The hips are a missing link that need to be addressed. The generation of rotation, power from the ground up, and ability to separate the lower body especially at the hips from the upper body are key to a better golf swing. This leads to increased club head speed along with distance off the tee.
Those golfers who can hit the ball a long way are able to turn the hips instead of slide them back away from the ball as the club starts back. This leads to loading up power when the club gets to the top of the swing, and then transfers that power on the way down thanks to the hips. The question becomes if you are lacking turn or rotation in the hips for the golf swing, then how do I improve that motion?
Below are six exercises that should provide some guidance into improvements for hip mobility and hopefully lead to better rounds on the golf course:
1) Frog Stretch
Keys: Start with feet shoulder width apart. Come down into a squat position with slight forward lean of the trunk and hands inside of the legs pressing down on the floor. Hold that position and if you want more of a stretch push the elbows into the inside of the knees moving the hips slightly away from the body.
2) Side Lunge with Hip Rotation (Golfers Stretch)
Keys: Start with the back leg pointed forward and keep the leg fairly straight. For the front leg, turn to the side so the leg is perpendicular to the back leg staying fairly straight as well. Turn the trunk/upper body towards the front leg to feel the stretch. If you want more of a stretch, bend the knee to come down towards the floor.
3) 90/90 Transition
Keys: Put one leg in front of the body, knee bent, and the inside of the foot points up towards the ceiling while the back leg is behind, knee bent, and the outside of the foot points up towards the ceiling. The front leg will feel the stretch on the outside of the hip and the back leg will feel it on the inside of the hip. Once you feel that stretch, reverse the legs to change positions where the leg that was behind comes in front and the leg in front coming behind to repeat the stretch for the other side.
4) Step Overs
Keys: Start with both legs together either with support or without support. Take one leg, bend the knee, lift the hip up, and rotate behind you to tap the floor. Reverse the motion coming floor to complete a repetition. Repeat the same sequence with the other leg as well.
5) Stork Turns
Keys: Start with both legs together and use a golf club, dowel, broom stick, or wand for support. Take one leg and place the foot on the opposite knee with the knee bent. Turn the leg with the foot on the knee towards the other leg and back to the start position. Repeat the same motion with the other leg.
6) Split Stance Windmill
Keys: Put one leg in front of the other leg to create a split stance. Bend forward slightly at the trunk and spread your arms apart. Rotate the trunk away from the front foot feeling the stretch in the mid back along with the hips. Return to the start position, reverse the foot positions, and repeat the same sequence.
Remember that you can always set up an appointment at the Center for Physical Excellence if you want to address hip mobility or anything else you want to address about your overall health and wellness.
Andrew Roberts, PTA, CSCS