ANATOMY OF A GOLF SWING

golf-swing

With today’s modern golf swing, there are numerous muscle groups and joints which need to be on the same page to best provide one with an effective, powerful stroke while minimizing the risk of injury. An often neglected part of the body with regards to many players’ swings is the hip joint and its surrounding structures.

Prevention

Placing focus on properly preparing the hip joint to maintain appropriate flexibility will best ensure that it can withstand the forces seen with one’s golf swing. Basic stretching exercises for the hamstrings, hip flexors, and rotators are essential. The average PGA golfer has roughly 45° of hip internal rotation. Lacking internal rotation leads to increased extension of a golfer’s pelvis which can result in low back pain and decreased drive. In addition, recent studies have shown that golfers with strong hip musculature have lower handicaps and longer driving distances compared to those with weak hip muscles. Combined with safe core strengthening, these steps will help one produce the maximum power with their swing while reducing the risk of back and other joint injuries.

Causes

Hip pain in golfers may be the result of minor strains, soft-tissue inflammation, such as bursitis, and even arthritis. The modern golf swing, with its requirement for large amounts of body rotation, can subject one’s body and hip joint to perhaps more than it can tolerate, rendering it vulnerable to injury. Labral tears, while perhaps more common in other sports, can also be a cause of hip pain in golfers. A stabilizing and supportive structure, the labrum can be damaged when subjected to increased pressure in a hip joint which lacks the necessary flexibility to withstand the forces seen with the modern golf swing. This may result in groin pain, clicking or locking sensations, discomfort when squatting to read a putt or pick up a ball, or even restricting one’s swing.

Treatment

The first steps to take in treating hip pain associated with golf involve the usual conservative measures, including rest, ice, and over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications. If these fail to alleviate the discomfort, formal physical therapy with an experienced provider familiar with golf related injuries can often target the specific muscle imbalances and tightness which made one prone to such an issue in the first place. Injections, such as steroid and platelet-rich plasma (PRP), can also be useful for a variety of hip related pathologies. Lastly, when non-operative treatments fail, surgery can be considered. For labral tears, recent advances in hip arthroscopy have enabled surgeons to repair this important anatomic structure through minimally invasive techniques, and best preserve the hip joint for countless rounds of future golf.

Our commitment at Sarasota Orthopedic Associates is to get our patients back on their feet, back to work, back in the game, and back to life.  Trevor Born, MD is fellowship trained in Sports Medicine at SOA and will help you get back in the game. Same day appointments are available at any our three locations by calling 941.951.2663.

9 thoughts on “ANATOMY OF A GOLF SWING

    1. Great question. We posed your question to Trevor Born, MD for a reply:
      “A lot of research has focused on biomechanics of the swing and developing programs to improve one’s swing from these analyses. In addition to a hip strengthening and lower extremity flexibility focus, players shoulder employ torso rotation flexibility and shoulder range of motion exercises into their swing program. Scapular retractions, core strengthening, and resisted backswings and downswings are additional useful exercises to utilize in perfecting a golfer’s swing.”

  1. Really useful information, thanks. I’ve been having trouble with hip pain affecting my swing. Are there any specific exercise you recommend to help with this?

    1. Hi Bob, thank you for commenting on our blog. Our Sports Medicine physician responds to your question: “Depends on what it is that is causing the pain and location of the pain. Nonetheless, the standard exercises or regimen to utilize to ensure that one’s hip has the proper support and strength to tolerate a golf swing includes good hip and core strengthening, focusing on the trunk and hip abductors/flexors, and stretching of the IT band, hamstrings, and quad muscles. Planks, straight leg raises in all directions, and back bridges are low impact exercises that help to target most of the muscle groups essential to an efficient golf swing.”

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