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Tight hips? Your back may need to brace itself..

Updated: May 26, 2023


(Image: golf.com)


There are many causes for back pain in golf. This may include poor practice structure, lacking fitness or a dysfunctional swing technique. However in this article, I will focus on the limitation of hip internal rotation being a contributor of back pain.


So what is hip internal rotation?

In layman’s terms, it is the head of the hip turning inwards in the hip socket. During the golf swing, we require a large amount of hip internal rotation especially on the lead leg. As we try to clear our lead hip when coming towards the impact position, our pelvis is rotating over the head of the hip (confusing I know). Don’t feel bad if you don’t understand the exact mechanics of this movement, just know that you must have adequate flexibility here.


How do I know if my movement is poor?

Great question. The TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) developed an easy test so that you can quickly measure your hip movement. Click the link here to test your body now https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cg1O3phgLyV/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=


Why does hip internal rotation matter in the golf swing?

So like mentioned above, our hip internally rotates on our lead side as we come towards impact. If you suffer from poor flexibility, your body will make compensations. Our brains are smart, so instead of trying rotate on your tight hip, you will naturally swing around this. Therefore a number of swing faults may present themselves.

What swing characteristics may come from the lack of hip movement?

There are 3 main characteristics that come from the lack of lead hip internal rotation, but many more may also be present.

1. Early extension: Due to the fact you will find it hard to pull your left hip out of the way laterally, your hips may want to move towards the golf ball.

2. Slide: Similar to early extension, a sliding action of the lead knee may occur because your hip isn’t able to ‘clear’ out of the way. Here you will see the knee ‘buckle’ which places the joint in a compromised position.

3. Chicken wing: Hip rotation should be the first part of the downswing sequence. Those that lack hip rotation tend to use the arms first out of sequence because they struggle to separate the upper and lower body. This causes them to become ‘handsy’ and stall with the hips. The famous chicken wing can then present itself.


So how does it lead to injury?

Like mentioned, the lack of hip movement will likely cause swing compensations and essentially makes the lumbar spine work harder. Due to the fact you are limited in your ability to clear the lead hip, the lumbar spine may need to extend more and rotate more than it otherwise should. One study performed in 2017 showed that golfers that had less hip internal rotation were more likely to have back pain (Saraceni et al, 2017).


What should I do about it?

The easy answer is get more flexible.. If you want to get your hip movement back as quick as possible, email me here at golfphysioaustralia@gmail.com for your FREE golf warm-up guide. This is the complete warm-up guide that will help you improve your hip internal rotation and decrease the chance of you injuring your spine.


Are you sick of your back pain?

If you want immediate care and the best possible advice, book a consult with me now! It’s time to start your rehab journey.



References Saraceni, Nick., Kemp-Smith, Kevin., O'Sullivan, Peter., Campbell, Amity., (2017). The Relationship Between Lead Hip Rotation and Low Back Pain in Golfers– A Pilot Investigation.

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