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Senior Golfers: Hips Don’t Lie

Improving mobility with glide exercises

By Michael K Butler BA; PTA; CSCS*D; RSCC*D NMT

For many years I have researched the most effective and biggest bang for the buck exercises for golfers because I know time is always an issue. Having to arrive at the golf course early for an 8 a.m. tee time doesn’t give you much time for preparing your body for golf, so a complex golf conditioning program may quickly be abandoned.

I primarily train golfers over the age of 50 who usually come to me with several issues. Many are due to the spine or back pain and the hips are a close second, which makes sense as they are so closely related to each other due to ligamentous and muscular attachments. 85 percent of Americans will experience back pain sometime during their lifetime, and one of the major reasons is due to restricted hips.

During the golf swing the arms start the movement followed by the trunk then the hips. Poor posture, sitting too long, tight muscles and spinal instability can all lead to hip mobility issues. Most golfers struggle with storing energy due to loss of coil in the trunk, shoulders and hips. If any one of these fails, power and accuracy suffers.

I came up with this highly effective hip mobility/spinal stability exercise that any golfer can do before and after their 9- or 18-holes of golf, and it takes just 5 minutes to perform.

The name of the exercise is kneeling hip rotations using a slider under the foot that is involved. The exercise is started by kneeling on all fours with your spine in neutral position and navel drawn in towards your spine. You place your foot on the slider and slowly slide that foot from front to back, then out to the side creating a circle if you can. The whole time you are moving the hip, the back should be stable; breathing should be rhythmical and not forced. After doing this exercise every day for two to three weeks, you should notice a change in range of motion of the hips and stability in your spine.

There is no age limit to this exercise; I have an 85-year-old client who saw improvement within just a few visits. As with all exercise, it is advised to get clearance by your physician before starting a new program.

Michael Butler is co-owner of Kinetix Health and Performance Center in Palm Desert. He holds a state license as a physical therapist assistant, national certifications of distinction through the NSCA as a strength and conditioning coach, Poliquin International state coach and as a Full Body Active Release techniques practitioner. He can be reached at (760) 200.1719 or michael@kinetixcenter.com. 

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