By: Dr. Jordan Mackner, DC The hip joint is inherently one of the most mobile and stable joints in the entire body. The hip is a ball and socket joint where the femur meets the pelvis, and the stability is provided by the depth of the socket and the ligamentous structures surrounding the hip. This combination of mobility and stability allows the hip a vast range of motion in all three planes without much problem. This is compared to the shoulder who’s ball and socket joint is much shallower and more prone to dislocations. Shoulder dislocations are fairly common in an athletic population, whereas, you rarely hear of a hip dislocation. With this range of motion capability in the hip comes a lot of muscles needed to control that motion. Thus, the hip is surrounded by some of the most powerful muscles in the body. The hip joint ends up being one of the most important in the lower extremity for generating power in any athletic movement. This is no different for the golf swing where the hip needs to be able to perform a vast range of motion under load while maintaining it’s flexibility for the golfer to perform an optimal swing. Healthy hips bring the golf athlete much joy! It brings a larger turn, increased power and distance, and helps minimize wear and tear on surrounding joints that are not made to rotate. On the other hand, unhealthy hips may lead to not only higher scores and less power in a swing but a myriad of musculoskeletal problems for the golf athlete. Hip Flexibility and muscle imbalances Because the posture of today often involves a desk, chair, or couch our stagnant society is riddled with inflexible hips that cause us problems. The hip is structurally formed to provide a lot of motion and thus craves mobility. The joint surface is large and the cartilage in the hip has no blood supply. To provide the joint nutrients it relies on everyday motion of the femur. This movement keeps the joint functioning properly and healthy. When our hips are stagnant and we do not get outside of our normal everyday motion of sitting and walking muscle imbalances start to creep in. Most commonly, the hip flexors and back muscles become tight while the glutes and core musculature become weak. This is such a common occurrence that a Czech neurologist by the name of Vladimir Janda coined the term “Lower Cross Syndrome” in which he described this muscle imbalance as forming an “X” on the patient’s body from a side view. These muscle imbalances are only exacerbated with age if nothing is done to counteract them and this also accelerates hip osteoarthritis. This is a double edged sword because hip OA further limits the femurs motion on the pelvis, but also adds pain and inflammation to the movement. This limited hip mobility will wreak havoc on a golf swing. As we stated before, the hip was created with a huge range of motion in all three planes. Therefore, it is one of the largest spots we should get rotation in our golf swing. If the hip cannot rotate through a full range of motion that motion is forced into surrounding joints. If we go up the joint chain the next closes joints are the low back spinal joints. If we go down the chain the closest joint is the knee. Unfortunately, neither of these joints were built to rotate well. If the golfer forces rotation into the knee most likely they will show up with a meniscal injury at some point in time. On the other hand, if the golfer decides to take up the slack with the lumbar spine (low back) then pain and inflammation of the lumbar spinal joints is inevitable and most commonly trail sided low back pain during the swing commences soon after. On the bright side if you have a rehab professional (physical therapists, chiropractors, athletic trainers, coaches, etc.) that is well versed with golf biomechanics and functional screening the golf athlete for deficiencies hip stretching, rehabilitation, and functional training are fairly easy protocols to implement into any program. Find a provider, get assessed, and get some healthy hips!