1 Hips - 10 year study
This is one of the areas that we will visit a number of times through the year due to the complexity and depth of influence these joints have.
There are two significant issues with the hips. Firstly they are rarely symmetrical, and secondly they can vary significantly with each player. The one area that was most significant was the weakness we found during the testing. With 75% of screening we found the quads were so dominant that the gluteus were not only weak but in many cases inhibited where the contractual power was minimal.
The gluteus play a major role in the golf swing and during any rotational power sport. The forward lean from the initial posture requires a muscular balanced in the posterior chain to counter gravity. As the rotational acceleration and leverage impacts on the club towards the ball the loads are increased significantly requiring an equally significant counter force. This is where many problems occur irrespective of the level of player. Each player will have a threshold of power against balance force and this is the formula for consistency and distance.
The issue is where are the balance forces coming from.
Golf swing techniques vary on their impact on hip function, however which ever style you choose there is none that won’t require strong stable and functional hips. For sure, the range of movement impacts on the look of the player and the style but ignore the importance of a triple plane balanced movement and consistency is in jeopardy. There are many reasons players don’t retain peak performance or more to the point, aren’t able to increase peak performance but this area is absolutely critical for an effective golf swing
Before any golf swing forces are discussed lets consider the biomechanics of motion. Due to the mechanical structure of the hips they have to withstand about 2.5 times the body weight under a normal standing walking motion, therefore any weakness in the hip or a poorly aligned and muscularly imbalanced hip will inevitably create issues. Its no surprise that dysfunctional hips can cause pain and injury elsewhere once a golf swing motion is added. Considerable vertical and angular driving forces trigger off neurological responses to deal with this power which is often an unwanted movement. If your lucky you’ll just get a miss hit, if your unlucky you’ll get injured as the weak spot fails and the counter reaction to this force creates a trauma.
Simply we need to strengthen the hips by engaging the surrounding muscles and activate them. In essence this is a simple job however there can be underlying issues that prevent muscle activation. The gluteus and surrounding tissues are activated by nerve supplies, these nerve supplies can become impinged causing an inhibited activation. As the nerves that activate the hip area originate from the Lower back traumas in the lumber spine and sacrum may cause such problems.
Mobilizing the hips is essential to the strengthening process however during the last 10 years I have seem a large number of variables in range of motion and rarely is symmetry found between both hips. Screening is essential before any training programmes are designed. This is a classic error I seen and experienced over 40 years of competing and training. So, if you intend building a progressive programme and improve as a player you must first find the optimal range, build strength around that range and maintain it.