Flexibility for Golf: Hip Mobility

It important to keep your hips strong and mobile as part of your golf fitness

Flexibility for Golf: Hip Mobility

Why is hip mobility vital to a good golf swing

The hips are a large ball and socket joint designed for large movements and have the ability to produce powerful forces due to strong gluteal muscles. Using your hips in golf and many other sports is key to generating power. It really is important to keep your hips strong and mobile as part of your golf fitness.

Hip rotation and extension are vital to producing powerful forces in your swing as you fire your hips. To have a fluid swing and play golf efficiently it is important you use the ground forces effectively to achieve balance and speed in your golf game.

Unfortunately most of us spend the working week seated, not using our hip mobility and powerful gluteal and thigh muscles. We spend much time sitting in flexion, the result being tight hips with poor gluteal strength. This lack of movement leads to reduced hip mobility and a stiff upper back. Rotation mobility through the upper body helps create an even more fluid golf swing.

Having strong mobile hips really helps transmit forces from the ground up through the body and upper limbs to generate total body power. Essentially in golf the hips need good extension and internal rotation range of motion to allow the pelvis to rotate efficiently on a stable base. This also allows an effective follow through allowing the chest to stack up towards the target as the back hip provides the driving force. Further up the body can rotate on a stable lower body producing strong rotational forces from the ground up for optimal results in your game.

Compensations in the golf swing due to poor hip flexibility

Sliding hips

Many golfers instead of rotating their hips, will try to generate power by sliding their hips and swaying their body to achieve weight transfer. This will often lead to shearing forces across their low back, pelvis and hips, which increases their risk of breakdown and pain significantly.  

The pelvis should rotate on top of the hips, this will help develop that rotational power you need in the golf swing. Sway leads to your spine and head moving off centre, it becomes significantly harder for you to return to centre, resulting in poor golf ball contact. 

Lead knee collapsing inwards

A very common breakdown in your golf swing is for your left knee to collapse in toward the ball and away from your target. This often occurs due to lack of internal rotation in the lead leg as a result the left knee collapses inwards. This leads to taking your club back too flat during the early stages of your backswing.  This pulls your body around early, exacerbating a flat swing. 

Sometimes you start your golf swing by turning your lower body, however it is important for your lower body to stay quiet during the early stages of your swing. This allows resistance to be built up against the left side of your body. Lead knee collapsing inwards also causes excessive tilting of the pelvis placing greater stress on the lower back.

Poor loading into trail leg

In golfers who lack good internal rotation of the trail hip, we see the common fault where players do not load the trail leg efficiently. As they turn into the back swing, the trail leg straightens and the right hip rises instead of rotating backwards. The rotation into the hip stretches and loads the trail gluteal muscle to produce power.

The action of the hips and gluteal muscles provide a massive power advantage in the golf swing. When the trail leg straightens, this means the trail leg becomes more inactive and this will place greater strain on the lower back and upper body. Hence the need for good hip rotation to develop the power in the golf swing is vital to efficient and repeatable performance.

The following are great hip mobility exercises

Best three hip internal rotation dynamic stretching exercises

  1. Squat Hip Drive with Club: Holding a golf club with feet hip width apart drop into a squat, then drive up and across stacking up on your left leg as you internally rotate your hip. Then repeat on the other side.
  1. Slider Single Leg Rotation: Standing balanced on your right leg and left foot lightly resting on a slider, rotate the slider around your right leg. As you drop behind feel the external hip rotation in your right hip, feel the weight spin on your right foot. Then come back up rotating the left leg in front feeling the internal rotation as you stay balanced on your right foot. Repeat several times on one leg, then switch legs.
  1. Lateral Lunge with Club: Holding a golf club standing feet shoulder width apart. Lunge to your left side as you squat into the leg keep the right leg straight. As you lean forward feel yourself drop into your left gluteal. Keep your right leg straight as you feel the stretch in your groin. Repeat to the other side.

Best three hip extension dynamic stretching exercises

  1. Forward Tri Plane Lunge: Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Lunge forward gently with right leg and feel the hip flexor stretch in left hip. Simultaneously as you keep your left knee bent reach up with your left arm. Then spring back to return to your starting position. This will really open your left hip flexor allowing good extension through your lower body. Repeat several times and then onto the other side. This drill can be done with a golf club to really open your chest as you reach over head.
  1. Forward Lunge with Rotation: Holding a medicine ball lunge forwards with left leg drop right knee to the floor. As you do this rotate ball and your chest towards your lead leg. Feel the stretch in the right hip flexor and do not let your right knee touch the floor. As you drop into the lunge position rotate your chest and the ball on plane to feel the rotation stretch in your thoracic spine. Slowly rise returning back to start position then alternate legs.
  1. Oblique with club: Hold a club with one palm facing up and the other down. Then lunge obliquely to the side with palm up. Allow your body and feet to follow your front leg. Drop the opposite knee to the floor and keep knees bent as you rotate the club up creating external rotation through the opposite shoulder. Feel the stretch obliquely across your body. Repeat to the side and feel that external rotation as the body opens.

Post Play Stretch

Post play it is always important to have a good stretch down to recover muscle function and regain your mobility:

  • use the kneeling hip flexor stretch to stretch your front hip
  • Importantly recover hamstring length with a hamstring stretch as this prevents early extension
  • Prayer stretch helps stretch your gluteals and upper back. Do not force the prayer stretch to avoid shoulder pain
  • Pigeon pose stretch is a great stretch for external rotation, but care to not cause pain in your knees
  • Adductor stretch is a great stretch to help stop you sway in your game
  • Any stretch should be done with care and gradually to avoid pain. If you do experience pain, always consult a specialist such as a physical therapist to guide you.

In Summary

As you can see it is not all about getting strong in the gym for golf. Ensure you get ELASTIC getting those hips and legs moving well, allowing you to use the ground to develop your power through your legs effectively.

It will really benefit your game when you get to the golf course to warm up your hips, we have designed exercises to help rotate your hips and open the front of your hip. This allows a more fluid swing as you will have optimal mobility. Getting your hips and leg mobile help achieves better balance support in your golf game.

Elastic Golf recommends active and dynamic warm up prior to your game, and then to stretch after golf to recover. Train smart and stay healthy and strong.