One of the biggest differences between the professionals and amateur golfers is hip flexibility. Golfers over 50 and senior golfers really struggle with hip rotational flexibility because there are not many repetitive daily movements that we do that rotate the hips to the degree needed for a good, fundamental golf swing. As a result, we tend to lose this flexibility very quickly.
Hip rotation is one of those key motions in golf that you will lose, or have lost, if you do not have a consistent stretching habit.
Keegan Bradley is one of todays leading golfers and a habitual stretching machine. He recently shared an important stretch that he calls his “go-to” stretch to loosen up the hips for a strong backswing and fluid follow through.
Keegan’s Go-To Golf Stretch
- Setup: Begin in a standing position holding onto something stable with your right hand for balance. Cross your left ankle across your right knee.
- Action: Squat down on your right leg as far as you are able focusing on lowering your bottom toward the ground.
- Parameters: Hold stretch for 20-30 seconds and switch.
Ok, so you are over 50 and this stretch may look a little extreme. It is a difficult position to hold and if you have knee problems, this may cause more damage than it does good.
Luckily, there are alternate stretches.
The Piriformis Muscle
The primary muscle that Keegan is stretching in the above picture is the piriformis muscle. You may have heard of it. It is a well known muscle that causes sciatic pain when it pinches down on the sciatic nerve. This is often referred to as “Piriformis Syndrome.” This muscle is also a key muscle in hip rotation and, therefore, an important muscle to address in regards to the golf swing.
Alternative Piriformis Stretch for the Golfer
- Setup: Begin by sitting in a chair with your right ankle on your left knee as shown.
- Action: Press your right knee straight down towards the ground until you feel a light stretch in your buttock or hip region.
- Parameters: Perform 3 repetitions of 30 seconds each leg.
Be balanced, Stretch the Opposing Hip Rotators
In your golf swing, you need rotation flexibility in your hips in both directions. If you are a right handed golfer, at the top of the backswing you are maximizing hip External rotation in your left hip and hip Internal rotation in your right hip. Both are key. As a result, you should also include the next stretch in your daily routine.
- Setup: Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and feet spread apart.
- Action: Keeping your feet where they are, allow your knees to dip in together so that they are touching. You can also use your hands to push your knees together for a better stretch.
- Parameters: Hold stretch for 30 seconds, perform 3 repetitions.
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You and I know that having the same flexibility of the professionals is not likely to happen. However, neglecting your hip motion flexibility can have major consequences on your golf swing including a limited backswing and follow through swing. You will enjoy your time on the golf course a lot more if you spend a few minutes improving your hip flexibility.
Give it a try and let me know how you do!
Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Golf Performance Specialist
Age Defying Golf