The majority of golfers that come into our clinic for complaints of low back pain and other forms of injury lack flexibility through the hips, spine and ankles, all of which are heavily relied upon during the golf swing. Most professional golfers have incredible flexibility combined with excellent strength allowing them to compete at such a high level. For the weekend golfer who spends most of their day sitting at a desk, this can be a challenge.
I spend most of my time working with golfers to increase their hip flexor mobility that shortens from prolonged sitting. These muscles are located on the front of the hip and have a major influence on the curvature of the low back and how it behaves during the swing. The therapists at Nike Golf placed great emphasis on improving hip extension and rotation through a series of stretches that target the joint in 3 planes of motion. Most of us stretch in one direction and forget that we move in 3 dimensions and therefore must stretch in 3 dimensions to achieve the maximum benefit. Through the use of these stretches, I have been able to witness golfers drastically improve their follow through while resolving their back pain in a matter of 1-2 visits. Unfortunately, a lifestyle that involves sitting for 7-8 hours/day will require greater effort on your part to overcome.
The only equipment you need to perform a highly effective hip flexor stretch is a chair. Start by placing one foot on the chair and having the other foot grounded and turned inward. This is important because it really locks in the hip flexor. Lean forward at the hips until you feel tension at the front of the hip. Do not come off of the stretch and begin to gently rock forward and back for 10 repetitions, then move the hips in a side to side motion to stretch the frontal plane for 10 repetitions. It is important to also keep the back leg straight because the knee will want to bend. After those 2 motions, incorporate the transverse plane by doing a circular motion and remember not to come off of the stretch at any point for 10 repetitions in each direction, clock wise and counterclockwise. Now, switch legs and repeat. You should feel immediate relief and greater ease with the follow through of your golf swing!
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Dr. Mark Giovanini
Scott Rusin is the Director of Physical Therapy at the Sandestin Executive Health & Wellness Center in Sandestin Resort, Miramar Beach, FL. He has a degree in Physical Therapy, is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Nike Golf NG360 Performance Specialist Powered by the Gray Institute.