Now that the fall season is in full swing and a lot of golfers want to go out and play, it’s important to be able to do so comfortably. In other words, with no pain to hamper a fun round of golf. One area that is becoming increasingly important for golfers is the hip. As golfers spend many hours sitting at their desks or sitting in heavy traffic in their cars, the hip joints become tight because the muscles in the front of the thigh – the hip flexors – remain tight.
Some useful tips for what to do come from fitness specialist Michael Romatowski, who is certified in Titleist Performance Institute’s fitness and medical tracks, The Egoscue Method, Tathata Golf and ROTEXMotion. Romatowski is best known for speed training for golf (www.mach3speedtraining.com), and students at his San Antonio training location often use speed training tools with outlandish names like SpeedBomber, Velociraptor or Black Mamba.
In his words, “The golf swing is a big movement – a symphony of motion.” He is often asked which part of the body is the most important for the golf swing and his response is: the hip joints. That is because each hip joint requires both mobility for a large range of motion, and stability to support the rest of the body above it. Additionally, when the hip joints are adequately mobile, the demands on the spine can be reduced for a more efficient and less injurious swing.
So, how can a typical golfer who does not have time for working out at a gym, keep the hip joints limber? According to Romatowski, typical gym exercises for the hip joints include squats, lunges, deadlifts and stair climbing, but all of those exercises are linear and do not utilize or adequately train the entire range of motion that a hip joint is capable of. The goal, of course, is to work the joint in a maximum number of directions and to build the appropriate strength while doing so.
Romatowski recommends four easy-to-do-at-home exercises for the hip joint which only require a wall and perhaps a chair. A typical workout would require eight repetitions for each leg, and a total of two sets for each exercise, performed three times per week. He notes these exercises will help keep your hips strong, mobile, and stable while providing a foundation for a smoother yet more powerful swing.
Exercise 1: Pure Hip Rotation
Place both hands on a wall at the height of your head. Stand on your left leg with your torso angled forward approximately 45°, and your right leg extended back in line with your torso, with the foot off the floor. Keeping your left leg still, rotate your body to the left until your left hip is fully internally rotated (rotated away from the center or midline of the body). Pause for one second and then rotate your body to the right. Repeat eight times then switch to the other leg. Completing both sides equals one set. Then do a second set.
Exercise 2: Hip Rotation with Mini-Squat
Place your left hand on the wall at the height of your head, and your right arm outstretched way behind and up over your head to the right side (Picture 1). Stand on your left leg with your torso angled forward approximately 45°, and your right leg extended back in line with your torso, as in Exercise 1. Then rotate your body to the left while simultaneously bending your left leg in a mini-squat and sweeping your right arm downwards and forwards as if bowing down (Picture 2). Pause for one second and then rotate your body to the right as you simultaneously straighten your left leg and move your right arm high to the right (Picture 3). Same repetitions and sets as before.
Exercise 3: Statue of Liberty Sweep
This is the upright standing version of Exercise 2. Stand upright on your left leg, with the right leg behind you and bent 90° at the knee. If necessary, use a chair for balance. Extend your right arm high overhead. Then, dramatically bend your left knee as you fold your body down and sweep your right arm across your body. Pause for one second and then push powerfully to a standing position as your right arm is once again fully outstretched. Same number of repetitions and sets as before.
Exercise 4: Stork Stance Back and Forth
Start by standing upright on both feet. If necessary, use a chair for balance. Draw your right knee up towards your chest, lifting it as high as possible, and then cross your right leg in front of your body and place your right foot on the floor. Pause for one second, and then once again draw your right knee straight up as high as possible, and then move your right leg back to its original starting position, with the right foot on the floor. Same number of repetitions and sets as before.
To hit the little white ball better, Romatowski suggest that all golfers take care of the big ball and socket that is the hip joint.
Kiran Kanwar is the developer of The Minimalist Golf Swing System -100% scientific, simple and specific. She has BS degrees in physics and math; MS degrees in sports science and nutrition; and is pursuing a PhD in biomechanics. She is a Class A Member: the LPGA, The NGA of India, The PGA of India. Visit her website: www.mgs.golf