Perfecting that smoother golfer’s swing comes at a cost, researchers have found.
Most pro golfers have oddly shaped hip joints, a new study from The University of Warwick suggests. Their research team had 55 elite players undertake a medical MRI scan, and were surprised to see the majority had egg-shaped right hips. Their left side joints weren’t distorted, maintaining the standard ball shape.
While their seems to be a link between golf technique and odd hip joints, the British Journal of Sports Medicine isn’t ready to adamantly claim golfing causes deformities. Head researcher of the study, Professor Damian Griffin, says the shape mismatch between the hips could be the cause of hip and lower body pain frequently reported by players.
“Overall, we know golf can provide considerable health benefits, with likely improved longevity, and better physical and mental health. But golf puts huge forces through the hips every time a player swings the club,” explains Dr. Andrew Murray, a sports doctor specialist for the European golf tour.
The hips rotate in different directions – and at different speeds – through a correct-form golf swing. Over time, this push-pull activity eventually warps the hips out of balance. The abnormal egg shape was visible in 16% of right hips, or the backside hip at the end of the swing movement for a right-handed player. Left hip deformity was seen in just 4% comparatively, which is the front hip of a right-handed player completing their swing.
The condition is known as ‘cam rotation’, and limits the range of motion in the hip.
“Our findings have brought up new questions to be answered,” co-researcher Dr. Edward Dickenson says.
“What remains to be established is whether professional golfers develop these shapes because of the way they are using their hips or whether players with these hip shapes are more likely to become professional.”