Fitness Friday: Tight hips? Here's help
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When most people think of the role of the hips in the golf swing, they usually envision a player like Rory McIlroy snapping his pelvis toward the target at the start of the downswing in order to generate a tremendous amount of speed and power into his shots. But the muscles responsible for good hip function do a lot more than that when it comes making a good swing, and if you're hips are tight, even something as simple as solid contact with the ball could be a challenge.
Players with tight hips often struggle to keep their pelvis stable as they swing the club back and this can cause an improper weight shift to the front foot (reverse pivot). Without a major adjustment during the downswing, this could ruin any chance the player has of a solid shot. Another symptom of tight hips occurs in the downswing. A lack of mobility makes the golfer thrust the pelvis toward the ball—known as early extension. This is a death move in the golf swing at it changes the address posture and also re-routes the club on a slicer's path from outside the target line to inside.
Most people get tight hips from simply sitting too long each day, says nationally known strength coach Mike Boyle. It also can come as a result of tears to the cartilage that surrounds the hip joint (labrum) or simply from aging conditions like arthritis. The quickest test to see if you have tight hips is, while sitting, squeeze contract the glute muscles on each side of your body as hard as you can. Do you feel tension on the outside of your hips? Bingo. Another telltale sign is how slow/stiff your walking becomes after a long car ride or five-hour day on the golf course.
Luckily, Boyle says that if you can improve hip function dramatically if you follow a quick routine in the gym. He says to think of it as a two- or three-step formula.
"You first have to get the kinks and knots out with foam rolling," says Boyle, a Boston-based trainer who works with many professional and olympic athletes. "Then you need to work on the musculature that is key to good hip function. I'm talking about the hip flexors and rotators, the adductors (inside of the thigh), glutes (butt) and the hamstrings (back of the thigh)."
If you want to improve your golf swing and move better with less lower-back and hip pain, click on this tutorial video from Mike.