“Its all In The Hips” By Larry Justin “LJ” Georgetti, DPT
Any aging golfer can count on one of his/her friend’s bailing on an eight o-clock tee time due to “back pain”. Range of motion and strength of the whole body are essential when building a strong foundation to a healthy golf swing. I believe that the abnormalities in swing mechanics and mobility limitations in the hips/spine will cause restrictions in how one develops force in the golf swing. These abnormalities over time will result in dysfunction and eventually pain.
The golf swing has many variables, as does the human body. However, one thing remains consistent throughout all golf swings: energy must be delivered to a stationary golf ball in order to move it a desired distance. In the most efficient swings, energy is generated by the lower extremities via the ground. How this energy is gained, stored and eventually transmitted are exactly where the variables begin to differentiate between professional and recreational golfers. A golfer utilizes his/her lower extremity to generate force through the ground and eventually to the ball at impact. It is worth noting that the musculature surrounding the hips, known as the “glutes”, are the strongest in the body. These are the ones responsible for getting us up out of a chair and keeping us erect when walking. Problems arise when we do not train and utilize these muscles appropriately. As my colleague, Chris Hanson, previously discussed, the hip and the lumbar spine are closely related in the golf swing. If dysfunction arises in one, the other will suffer.
Biomechanical studies have supported the theory that the lead hip in the golf swing (left hip for a right handed golfer) undergoes greater forces of torque. As previously mentioned, force is generated through the ground by the feet and travels to the upper body via the core musculature. If either hip does not have adequate range of motion and/or strength, larger forces will be abnormally transmitted to the hip and/or lumbar spine. Additionally, the role of the core musculature is to provide a mode of stability for the dynamic body. If these two areas are not capable of generating and transmitting forces many times during a golf round, then subsequently the joints will begin to undergo progressive stress. The repeated unnatural stress will eventually cause injury.
Research has also proven that professionals transmit greater forces through their hips and core more than their recreational counterparts. One may argue that a professional golfer has practiced and devoted countless hours to developing a sound swing. However, these professionals have also correctly trained their bodies to consistently perform a complex movement. Let’s face it, our world revolves around our electronic devices, long work hours of sitting at desks, and sitting in poor posture. This results in limitations in hip mobility and lack of strength in the areas that are supposed to provide a strong foundation (glutes and core musculature).
The next time you tune into watching the PGA tour, I challenge you analyze the shorter players on tour such as, Rory Mcllroy, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, and Rickie Fowler. These players are not gifted with the body size of Brooks Koepka or Dustin Johnson. Therefore, they need to develop force by nearly jumping through the ground and using their hips and core musculature to generate force.
There is obviously a tremendous amount of complexity when analyzing the golf swing. Although not trained to teach the golf swing, physical therapists are trained and specialize in evaluating human movement and dysfunction. Physical therapists are the medical providers in detecting limitations in motion, treating pain and developing exercises to correct movement that will translate into improved function. If your goals are to improve your ability to make a fluid golf swing without pain and possibly add distance to your golf game, then it may be beneficial to find a Physical Therapist, or a TPI-trained medical professional. These individuals are most qualified to analyze your body, swing, and develop a specific plan of care for you. As the memorable one-handed teaching pro, Chubbs Peterson, once said to his prodigy, Happy Gilmore, “Its all in the hips”.
NovaCare Rehabilitation’s Larry Justin “LJ” Georgetti, DPT is a Physical Therapist for Shore Orthopaedic Physical Therapy in Cape May Court House, NJ.
This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice.
SHORE ORTHOPAEDIC UNIVERSITY ASSOCIATES
Our Board-Certified physicians at are trained in the practice of general orthopaedics; additionally each of our doctors has devoted additional training and surgical expertise in orthopaedic sub-specialties. The surgeons at Shore Orthopaedic University Associates are experts in diagnosing musculoskeletal disorders, identifying and treating injuries, providing rehabilitation to an affected area and establishing a prevention protocol to inhibit further damage to a diseased area or component of the musculoskeletal system.
SHORE ORTHOPAEDIC PHYSICAL THERAPY
Following a thorough evaluation, our licensed therapists provide each patient with an individualized treatment approach. Our ultimate goal is obtaining superior functional outcomes that allow patients to return to a full life of sports, work, and recreation.
To Schedule A One-On-One Consultation Contact us at: (609) 927-1991
Request an appointment online: SHOREORTHODOCS.COM
Somers Point • Galloway • Cape May Court House