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Hip Rotation in the Golf Swing

When looking at the golf swing there are 4 key areas that need to be addressed for rotational needs

· The feet/ankles

· The hips

· The spine

· The shoulders

If you are missing rotational capacity in one of these areas, two things can happen. The first is you may change your swing mechanics to fit your current abilities. An example can be if you are lacking hip internal rotation on your lead leg, you can turn your foot out slightly to give more room for rotation and clearing of your hips.

The second thing that can happen is you will start compensating for that lack of motion. Sticking with the lead leg example, if you lack internal rotation for the downswing you will have to figure out a way to complete the movement. Most people will slide forward giving them a sense of rotation but this is not true rotation.

While there are a lot of compensations that can happen, what can you do to limit the chances that this will happen?

** If you don’t want the reasons for hip rotation but want to fix your hips, skip to the last section**

The Lead Leg

In the start of the golf swing, we should be in an almost neutral position. That means the feet are under the body, and are facing straight forward or SLIGHTLY flared out. The way most peoples hips are designed, you should naturally flare your feet out between 5-15 degrees.

As we work our way through the back swing the lead leg will go into external rotation meaning the pelvis will be turning away from the leg. This helps open space on the lead leg so you can turn into it later at impact and follow through.

Tiger Woods Golf Swing
Tiger Woods swing sequence (Google Images)

When we get to the transition point of the golf swing the lead leg will be fully externally rotated which may cause the knee to collapse in slightly. This is not a big deal due to the fact there is not much load placed on it at this point. The big issue we run into is when you start your downswing and the lead leg knee is still collapsed in.

At the start of the downswing the first move should be to shift your weight from the trail leg to the lead leg. This is going to give you the position to create power from. This weight shift also tells your brain that is time to start internally rotating on top of the lead leg. This means that the pelvis will start turning towards the front leg. If the transition position was set up well with external rotation of the trail leg, this should be a very easy position for the body to get into. But what happens when this position was not set up well? This can lead to an over the top swing, a slide forward, poor ball contact, and lost distance.

As we get to impact position, the pelvis will be slightly turned towards the target. This position is almost full internal rotation on the lead leg. This also means that the left side of the pelvis has cleared backwards to allow room for the hands to come through as you make contact with the ball.

The finish position is maximal internal rotation on that lead leg. There is so much internal rotation needed that the hip cannot accomplish this alone. This is the big reason why many golfers finish on the outside of the foot. This also helps dissipate forces that are created during the powerful part of the golf swing.

The Trail Leg

Starting the back swing, the pelvis will begin rotating away from the target. This is internal rotation on the trail leg. The body typically works in reciprocal patterns, so this is the opposite of the lead leg in the back swing.

This internal rotation is needed to create a stretch on the trail leg glute. This is going to be important for creating power in the golf swing. As we rotate into the backswing, the first thing to always happen is a slight weight shift towards the trail leg. This starts loading the glutes on that side. If they do not load properly, your weight may move towards your toes causing a steep looking back swing.

At the transition point, we will be in full internal rotation on the trail leg ready to start the down swing. The weight shift towards the lead leg will start the process of turning away from the trail leg internal rotation into an externally rotated state. At this point force is being put into the ground through the right foot increasing the activity of the glutes on the right side. This will continue rotating the pelvis towards the lead side with more and more acceleration the further you rotate. At impact, the trail leg will be in almost full external rotation.

How do I fix my hips?

While most of the rotational mechanics are covered in this article, you may be thinking what the heck am I supposed to do with this. The first thing is to assess yourself or find a qualified professional to assess and create a program to fix your deficits. Hint ( Using a qualified professional is a lot faster than doing it on your own)

If you are in pain or want to improve your golf game, give Kalamazoo Chiropractic & Rehabilitation a call

*** This video is a starting point to assess yourself***

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