Golf Smart: The Power Behind Hip Rotation

If you watch a professional golf tournament on TV one thing we probably all notice, besides the incredible swing speed and distance, is the immense rotation that occurs in a pro’s swing.

The amount of rotation generated at the hips and trunk allow these players to generate insane torque, delivering energy down the club and into the ball. Higher swing speeds and energy storage equates into a longer ball. Achieving increased mobility is by no means reserved for the elite athlete or professional golfer. Luckily, our body adapts and allows for gains in mobility with consistent stretching and exercise.
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Maximizing both hip and trunk mobility is the key to moving better through a golf swing, minimizing energy leaks while maximizing club head speed and ultimately power out on the course. Our hips have approximately 45 degrees of rotational movement in each direction (90 degrees total per leg). Compare this value to our lower back, which provides only 20-30 degrees of combined rotation. The common misunderstanding is “I need to be able to twist more in my back to rotate farther into a backswing.” Simply put, this is the exact notion we need to limit. Excessive lumbar spine rotation can overly stress the joints and lead to potential low back pain and injury, grinding your season to a halt. Hip mobility is crucial in completing a full backswing; however, it’s often a primary site of limitation in amateur golfers – IT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED.

Another common limitation lies in the thoracic spine or mid-back. Our mid-back allows us 85-90 degrees of “coupled motion,” which refers to a combined turning and tipping movement of the spine. This motion is similar to that of the golf swing’s impact to follow through phase. Hip and/or trunk tightness during rotation typically leads to compensation. Excessive backward sway of the hips during our back swing can be spotted by an overly upright club and an “outside-in” path to ball impact a.k.a. “a slice swing.”

DYI: Self Assessment for Rotation

golf, smart, hip, rotationA quick self analysis of hip motion can be conducted. First, stand with your back against a wall keeping the feet flat. Rotate through the hips and trunk to touch the left side of the wall with your right hand. DO NOT BEND or FLEX FORWARD. Repeat toward the opposite direction. Gradually move farther from the wall as you note how much rotation you’re afforded in each direction. Repeat this procedure with the feet turned inward and outward.

Are the hips or trunk limited in rotation? Are you moving symmetrically in both directions? Does this become much more difficult with the feet turned inward or outward? Discrepancy in these motions may be indicative of hip/trunk restrictions that can be addressed by a physical therapist at any of our locations to improve your mobility and golf game.

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