Hip pain is one of the less discussed types of pain when it comes to golf. Back pain, wrist pain, and elbow pain tend to get more media attention and are seen more in major events like the PGA Tour. Hip pain is simply less common, and often, issues in the hip muscles refer up to the back or down the leg to other areas.
The most common complaint of hip pain in golf is usually the front of the hip – about where you might see a front pocket on a pair of slacks. The muscle located here is called the tensor fasciae latae and it commonly will become problematic after a lot of sitting or playing golf.
Another common area of complaint is the backside of the hip near the top of the iliac crest, which is higher up than you might think. Many people will point to the top of the hip and call it part of their back. In the diagram below, it’s labeled as the Iliac Crest.
The third common complaint we hear from golfers is deep aching or throbbing in the very side of the hip.
Generally, the most common causes of these issues are simply overuse – or lack of proper hip rotation to begin with – and overstressing the muscles with swing technique, whether by swaying while loading into the trail hip or sliding through when loading into the lead hip.
The most effective method we have found for immediate relief and an increase in hip rotation is to work on the tensor fasciae latae, or TFL, which we mentioned earlier. The TFL helps to internally rotate your hip. To work the TFL, take a lacrosse ball or any ball similar in size and place it on your TFL, then lay down on the ball. Roll it back and forth between your hip and the ground until you find a point that hurts, then start moving your leg side to side. (Watch the video at the end of this post to see a demonstration of this technique.)
The second area to work if you have hip pain is the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, which attaches in the upper back part of your hip and works to externally rotate and laterally stabilize your hip.
This area is particularly of note if you sway back and forth a lot during your golf swing. To work the glutes, you can use a ball the size of a softball or lacrosse ball, but the lacrosse ball is the better choice because it can reach smaller areas the softball can’t. Place the ball on the ground, then sit your glute onto the ball. Cross the leg on the same side as the glute you’re working over the opposite knee, then roll the ball between your glute and the floor until you find a point that hurts. Once you do, uncross your leg, then start moving it up and down and back and forth. (Watch the video at the end of this post to see a demonstration of this technique.)
The final area we’re going to talk about is the bursa, most commonly heard of in the context of bursitis.
To alleviate stress from the bursa, you have to loosen the tight band that comes down across it, the IT-Band. To do this, take a softball or foam roller (the softball will be more effective but more painful) and lay down with the ball below your bursa – on the side of your upper leg – and roll it around until you find a point that hurts. Then, move your leg back and forth or roll the ball side to side.
Hopefully these exercises help you to alleviate your hip pain or increase your mobility so you can swing faster, play better, and hurt less.