By Ken Cole, PT, COMT, FAAOMPT
The most common complaint by golf pros about their clients is the golfer’s inability to rotate their hips which creates a two-plane swing. Most golfers create a tense grip, elbow and shoulder musculature via concentric moment that produces a protective response in the Latissimus Dorsi and Quadratus Lumborum muscles directly impacting hip range of motion. This in turn creates early lumbar side bending and lateral sway movement instead of rotation on the golf ball. In the case of a right-handed golfer this produces an extension moment at the right knee and plantar flexion at the ankle which limits rotation at the hip. This can be seen at address position pre-swing by an early ‘wrist cock’ which sets up the two plane swing.
This is one of the most common compensations from players with early stages of osteoarthritis or labral pathology. These two conditions can lead to an anteriorly positioned femoral head via an adducted and internally rotated hip thus limiting the posterior stabilizers of the hip to work eccentrically in the back swing phase to keep the trunk centered during the take back. This phenomenon leads to the two-plane swing or a common fade in the flight pattern of the ball. It can be compensated for by arm dominant swing sometimes producing an uncontrolled draw or push. This occurs by excessive gripping and getting the hands ahead of the hips too quickly.
To prevent and resolve this issue, utilize active prone FABER stretching to restore strength and functional range of motion of the hip and lumbosacral complex. Using a half foam roll on the unstable side cueing the patient to use the ankles anterior and posterior rocking only with tension in the thigh and trunk musculature linking the core stabilizers. Head position is the key not to have a forward ‘turtle head’ position. Once the person is comfortable with this, then start with address position and repeat the ankle rocking, then progress to the take back phase keeping knees straight. This will allow for eccentric motor re-coordination for the right hip resolving the capsular pattern of restriction and freeing the tension in the hands, elbow, and shoulder.