The hips are a very important area of the body for the golf swing. They require a good range of movement as well as strength and stability through all phases of the swing. However, modern lifestyles involve a lot of sitting – at home, in work and during travel. Many exercises can help to improve hip range of movement and this month we are looking at one in particular called the ‘hip flexor stretch’.
How it benefits your body
Making sure you stretch these parts of your hips/legs regularly can help with your golf swing and many common activities that require extension of the hip complex, including walking. The hip flexors include parts of your quadriceps (the muscles at the front of your thigh) and deeper muscles at the front of the hips that attach at various points around the hip joints and pelvis/spine. Regularly stretching these tight areas can help reduce the effects of prolonged sitting positions/postures.
How it benefits your golf game
When the structures at the front of the hips/thighs are tight & restricted, the result can often be a change in the position of the pelvis. This in turn can have an effect on your golf set up, posture at address and during the golf swing and subsequently the forces that go through the lumbar spine. Keeping the hip complex mobile can help you to achieve better range of movement and technique during the golf swing as well as improve your walking over the 10,000 steps you may do during a typical round of golf.
The stretch can be done as part of your general fitness training as well as in your warm up. It is the same type of exercise that the European Tour professionals do regularly on tour.
How to do a hip flexor stretch
Step 1: Make sure you have a soft mat to kneel on. Use a long foam roller or golf club to rest your hands on. Start by gently putting pressure through both hands pushing the roller/club down into the ground so that you can feel your core muscles engage.
Step 2: Maintain this downward pressure and activation of the core during the exercise. Then contract the glut on the kneeling side. Maintain this contraction of the glut whilst you drive the hip on that side forward towards the club/foam roller. You will feel a stretch through the front of the thigh/hip on that side.
Step 3: Hold for 3-5 seconds, then relax back to the start position and repeat 3-5 times. As you get used to the stretch you can slowly increase the time you hold it for. Make sure you repeat this on both legs.
Text: Nigel Tilley
European Tour Performance Institute & Physio Unit