How Can Strengthening Your Hips Help Your Golf Game?Published on 03/14/2023 · 4 min readWondering how you can improve your golf game? Golf Expert Joshua Malutan uncovers one of the hidden secrets to doing just that: strengthening your hips.
Photo by Virginia Anderson
The golf swing has many components that beginners, amateurs, and professional golfers are continuously trying to perfect or improve for their golf game to improve. All joints of the body really matter in a golf swing as they all work off each other to create a number of rotations at different joints to generate speed and create power for an efficient shot. Along with the spine, one of the main joints creating rotation and power is the body’s left and right hip joints. If you are a right-handed player, the backswing involves a good amount of right hip external rotation while the left hip is in internal rotation. For the downswing and follow-through, the hip then alternates in the opposite pattern to create the power required for the left hand and right arm to come through the ball.
As a practicing physical therapist, I see many amateur golfers with lower back pain because they cannot create enough internal and external rotation, forcing them to twist excessively in their lumbar spine to generate power. Typically, their stability is not back on their heel because they cannot create power through their left ankle since their hip cannot generate mobility. The tightness in the hips and thoracic spine always results in decreased lower body motion through a swing, thus creating low back pain. I spent some time in my last article discussing the importance of hip mobility exercises, but this article will discuss the importance of hip strengthening.
Is Hip Strengthening Necessary?
Hip mobility is crucial to having regional interdependency between the thoracic spine and hip during a golf swing. But research has shown us that in mobility, it is essential to improve the strength of the muscles associated with the joint you desire to increase. A stronger muscle provides improved cross fiber intersection, which helps with flexibility and increases power output in that muscle.
Key Muscles Used in Golf
From the starting position of a golf swing, it is important to understand the muscles involved in stabilizing the trunk to generate the power behind a long ball. The main hip muscles involved in generating power in a golf swing are the glutes and core muscles. These muscles really stabilize an athlete in their golf posture to properly address the golf ball with the golf club. From the waist down, the glute muscle group is important in controlling what is happening at the left and right knee.
The gluteus maximus is the biggest posterior muscle from the hips down. This muscle is vital in performing hip extensions as in a squat and deadlift. It requires a lot of stability and strength at address to stabilize the golfer in the most mechanically advantageous position. The gluteus minimus and medius are the lateral glute muscles in charge of controlling the pelvis on one leg and providing contraction and control of external hip rotation.
How Muscles Are Used in Golf
During hip rotation in the backswing, one must load the trailing hip to activate. However, during the downswing, the lead hip really needs to be activated by pressing the lead heel into the ground to initiate rotation and power output. By pressing that lead heel into the ground, we have closed chain knee extension and hip extension, which activates the glutes to rotate. This is the importance of a knee bent in a golf swing to be able to press into the ground to generate the force.
According to Newton's third law, there is an equal and opposite reaction to any action. Thus, with an increase in your glute strength, the harder you can press into the ground on your downswing, the greater the reactionary ground force is to increase power output at contact. For this very reason, increasing the strength of your glutes will help decrease low back pain during golf and will help generate proper power for increasing distances.
Three Strengthening Exercises to Help Your Golf Game
Below are three great exercises to help increase single-leg strength and stability to be able to increase power during a golf swing.
1. The Single Leg Bridge With Controlled Descent
Start on your back with your knees bent. Raise one foot in the air, while one stays on the ground. With the grounded leg, push as hard as you can through your glutes and hamstrings, pushing your hips to the ceiling. Then control yourself on the descent, coming down with a three-second count. The minute those hips touch the ground, you explode back up.
2. Standing 3-Way Hip With Band Around Knees
On an elevated surface, put an exercise band around your knees. With one foot over the step, you perform 10 repetitions of each movement with no break. For example, the first movement is a hip extension where you move your leg backward, the next is sideways to hip abduction, and the last is forward for hip flexion.
3. Single Leg Runners Stance on Stability Ball
Increasing the force production and strength of your glutes is a key component in increasing the power output with each swing you make. This not only builds consistency in your golf swing, but it also increases your power and maximizes your distance as well. Reach out to any Curated Golf Expert or strength coach for proper coaching guidance on exercises for maximum power output.