Your hips and your swing

Thu Nov 1, 2012 by Dr. Greg Rose

All golf swings come in many forms but one of the issues that kills speed is the lack of internal hip rotation. Sit on a chair and make two fists. Put the fists between your knees and keep your knees against your fists as you try and move your legs outward. This outward movement is internal hip rotation, your legs are moving out but your hips are turning in. This is the same motion that occurs in the hip joint during a good swing. The golfer rotates around the right hip, shifts their weight then rotates back around the left hip. The average PGA tour player has over 45 degrees of internal hip rotation on both sides. If you suffer from a sway or slide in your golf swing and lack the power you really want the first thing you need to check is your internal hip rotation. You can bet it will be limited if you suffer from the sway and slide swing fault.

Lack of internal hip rotation can also be the cause of tight hamstrings and lower back pain as well as knee and ankle problems. The hip joint needs to be very mobile, having to withstand both direct loading stresses and large rotational forces with weight-bearing activities. As a result it is especially vulnerable to injury in sports that involve pivoting or twisting movements such as golf. In golf the hip is especially exposed to high-velocity internal rotation on the downswing, requiring a great deal of strength in the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, two of the muscles that make up your butt.

Interestingly golfers are suffering from a greater risk of hip injury, arising from the greater rotation favored by the more modern golf swing. This evolved to reduce the risk of back injury caused by the more classic swing of the seventies and eighties. If you are looking for more power and to avoid future injury you need to make sure the muscles around your hips are supporting you.

See the attached exercises and swing drills to help strengthen the muscles around your hips and improve your hip rotation. If you are interested in getting a full golf specific assessment and workout specific to your golf swing, see our find a fitness pro map on the website and contact a TPI certified fitness professional.


  • Alby

    Hey! Tour players have an average of over 60 degrees internal rotation, according to the statistics in your book.

  • Carl Brooking

    Hey, he said the average tour player has has more than 45deg on average, not an average of 45deg, just to keep you on the straight and narrow, cheers

  • Anonymous User

    Hey Joe, another Greg here but no Doc and just one who has had some pelvic area pain in the past and seeing as I have just started playing golf again after about a 20 year break, I have been reading up a fair bit on how to get a better swing going, especially being a leftie of the type who has more right side strength from being right handed in one handed sport. I suffered what I thought at the time was a lower back trauma many years ago and it was only through seeing a chiropractor ( a good one ), ironically through a re-occurrence in slipping on the side of a soggy tee and a playing partner recommendation that I had explained to me how your pelvic structure is actually in three bits, the two outer bits having the hip sockets being joined with grizzle or whatever to the central piece. Doctors will have all the right terminology. Anyway, it would seem that my original in jury, possibly from a football bump and never too well corrected early on has allowed for a residual weakness to have developed. After reading this article, I am extra conscious of the need to strengthen up my muscles as described and might investigate Pilates for doing that. Anyway, just reading your comment, I would not mind betting your good seven shot could have had something occur with your pelvic structure joint as the symptons/pain sound a bit like what I have suffered from on and off at times. My first true diagnosis many years ago was from someone not medically qualified but very experienced and well respected in the sports injuries field ( he having been a head trainer for a professional football team ) and he diagnosed the grizzle or whatever having popped out of the pelvic joint. He kind of popped it back in using a finger knuckle massage if I can call it that and on orders to do absolutely nothing for a few days other than taking a nice hot salt bath, full healing other than residual weakness took about two to three months and still a few more after that before I felt the confidence for any real exertion. I did have faith that he had fixed me rather than f*****d me as prior to his effort I was in considerable pain and could not even bend too much and I had a sideways tilt to my standing, a previous Xray even having Doctors telling me I just needed to stand straighter. Following the massage manipulation, though the area was tender, I could immediately walk without my sideways tilt. I appreciate what Doc Rose is saying in his second last para and if anything it is a little scary so I'll be taking my return very cautiously. Hope that helps and if you have not yet got a fix or you have felt it is a bit better only to have it re-occur, I would be looking out for someone who specialises in sports injuries.

  • Anonymous User

    Hey Greg! Saw you a few years back when you and Jamie were getting going in Rockville, Md. above Houstons on the pike. Today I was playing @ Norbeck and on the 7th hole I hit a 7 iron from 171 and felt a strain or pull in my lower right abdomen between my ribs and my groin that I would describe as deep. As the round went on, it worsened and by the end, my whole right side from my hip in the back to my lower rib to my upper groin was sore. It is a hard to pinpoint any specific area and bending over to my left seems to stimulate the discomfort more than any other movement. painless at rest or sitting. Sometimes there is some upper thigh discomfort. ?? any thoughts, suggestions. I stretch every day and walk using a push cart. Would love to hear from you.. Joe Boesch

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