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Hip Pain Prevention and Treatment for Golfers

You’ve heard of tennis elbow; how about golfer’s hip? Just as your elbow plays an important role in tennis, so do your hips in the game of golf. Think about the swing: when you address the ball, you turn your shoulder as far as you can to the top while maintaining posture, and then turn your hips hard on the downswing, pulling your arms and shoulders into action. The more you use your hips, often the more power, speed, and distance you can achieve. Unfortunately, all this hip action can often lead to pain. In fact, nearly 20% of male golf professionals report experiencing hip pain, and unsurprisingly, this increased with their age.

Why Does Golfing Cause Hip Injury?

Your hips are a ball-and-socket joint where your thigh bone and pelvis meet. The hip joints are responsible for keeping you flexible, and the surrounding network of muscles, including your powerful hip abductors and hip extensors, facilitate additional motion in your pelvis, legs, and thighs. These strong muscles, along with your hamstrings and gluteus maximus, are needed as your hips are the largest weight-bearing joints in your body.

If this region of the body is so strong, why is it susceptible to injury when golfing? The problem is that in normal daily activity, the hips usually remain sturdy. When golfing, they’re suddenly used quite a lot in a short period of time, performing pivots and twists they’re not accustomed to. The motion of your swing also necessitates gluteal and abductor muscle control, which can result in additional strain.  

There are a few other hip pain culprits, including tears in your cartilage, the tough tissue covering the ends of bones around the joint. Arthritis of the hip can also cause joint inflammation and breakdown hip bones, causing pain and convincing many to put away the clubs.

Prevention of Hip Pain for Golfers

As with any physical activity, it’s important to warm up before you hit the links. It’s tempting to jump right into the game, but a good warm-up will gently stretch the muscles around your hips, increase blood flow to them, and prep them for the more intense activity to come. When it comes to your hips themselves, practicing the correct form is the best way to reduce the risk of injury. Even if you’re consistently scoring an impressive 85 on 18-holes, you may have just learned to make your improper form work for you. So, get with a golf professional to be sure you’re using proper form when swinging. Even if it negatively impacts your score at first, you’ll eventually get used to it and it’ll be worth it in the long-run for the health of your hips.

Exercising to strengthen muscles, especially your core muscles, can also strengthen them and prepare them for your golf swing-swivels. Consulting with a personal trainer may be worth your time, and be sure to check out these exercises for healthy hips.

Treatment of Hip Pain for Golfers

Hip pain can often be treated without surgery if you’re willing to give up golf for a little while and allow your injury time to heal. Rest and ice on the painful area, in combination with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Motrin and Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and naproxen (Aleve and Naprosyn) can often be very effective.

However, if home remedies aren’t working, you may want to look into the following four pain management strategies:

  • Hydrotherapy. Also known as hydropathy or a “water cure,” this form of alternative medicine involves using water at varying degrees to relieve pain. There are a variety of treatments that you can read more about here.

  • Physical Therapy/Massage. Both treatments have been shown to increase blood circulation, relax muscles, and release pain-fighting endorphins, which occur naturally in the body. A therapist, in particular, may also be able to suggest some strengthening exercises you can perform at home on your own time.

  • TENS. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, involves attaching the wires of a handheld unit onto areas surrounding the pain. When turned on, the TENS unit sends electrical pulses to targeted areas to reduce pain. A doctor or therapist may use TENS on you or recommend purchasing a home unit.

  • Cortisone Injections. Administered by a doctor directly to the painful area, cortisone injections are among the most commonly used treatments in orthopedics. This powerful steroid can provide quick relief and reduce inflammation.

consideration for hip surgery

If none of the above are successful in reducing or eliminating hip pain, it may be time to consider hip replacement surgery. Read our story How Surgery for Hip Fracture Can Improve Quality of Life and discover how you can come out swinging once again. Subscribe to our blog today to stay current on issues of joint and bone health and the latest advancements in orthopedics, including our very own BandGrip wound closure technology.

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