How hip pain limits your golf game

Posted on: April 23rd, 2015 by Dr. Geoffrey S. Van Thiel

Congratulations to Jordan Spieth for an excellent win at the Masters, and we wish Tiger Woods a speedy recovery from his wrist injury.  Tiger’s injury reminds us that as golf season rolls around, prevention canada goose Constable Parka of injuries is essential and effective treatment of pain is important.

Hip pain is a common problem for golfers of all ages and levels.  It can impact your swing, distance, accuracy, and ability to get around the course.  Thus, an understanding of what can lead to this pain, howExpedition Parka to prevent it, and what treatments are available is essential knowledge for every golfer.

First, we should go over a few important terms.

  1. The hip is a ball and socket joint that allows controlled rotation of the joint.
  2. The ball and socket are covered in cartilage that provides a bearing surface as the hip moves.
  3. The labrum circles the edge of the socket and is a type of cartilage, but it acts as a ring around the ball in the socket in order to provide cushioning at the extremes of rotation and maintain a “seal” that keeps the joint fluid in the joint.

The labrum can be torn secondary to either one specific injury or from overuse of the hip joint.  There are also many muscles that cross the front, side and back of the hip joint that give the hip both strength and stability.  These muscles can get inflamed, torn and stiff, resulting in pain and a change to your swing characteristics.

Range of motion in the hip joint is not only required for walking, but is also an important component of your golf swing and the power generated.  In fact, each hip reacts differently to the swing based on whether you are right or left handed.  The lead hip will experience the majority of the rotation and torque during the swing.  This leads to the question; since the lead hip experiences more force and rotation, are there adjustments in the overall range of motion of each hip and do these cause other problems?

[pullquote_left]Rapid motion can cause labral and muscle tears in the mobile hip that lead to pain, limping and weakness of the hip.[/pullquote_left]

Two studies have found some side-to-side differences in hip rotation among professional golfers as a result of their sport participation. These studies show that there is less online internal rotation of the lead hip and players that had this side-to-side difference were more likely to have low back pain as well.  Thus, hip range of motion can be an important component in low back pain treatment and prevention in golfers.

The golf swing is also a quick movement, with power and rotation occurring over a very short time. The typical golf swing only lasts about 1.09 to 1.28 seconds.  This rapid motion can cause labral and muscle tears in the hip that lead to pain, limping and weakness of the hip.

Often the injury does not occur from one large injury, but is rather the accumulation of many small injuries over the course of playing due to something called femoroacetabular impingement (FAI).  FAI occurs when the femur (ball) bumps up against the cup (acetabulum) during hip range of motion.  This causes both cartilage loosening and tearing of the labrum.

As the golf season kicks off, it is important to remember that hip health is an essential component to a successful season.  Focusing on stretching and range of motion exercises can help prevent both low back pain and injuries to the hip.

If pain does begin to occur, there are many excellent treatment options from physical therapy to injections and even arthroscopic hip surgery.  Every patient is different, so I can”t say what you may need, but your physician and physical therapists will work to find a treatment plan that is right your individual (I can”t stress individual enough) situation.

Enjoy your season, stay active, stay healthy, and contact us for questions or help with treatment or prevention.

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