Bending from the hips instead of the waist in a golf setup promotes good swing mechanics and helps prevent injury. Many players who bend from the waist exhibit C-posture, in the parlance of the Titleist Performance Institute. Looking down the target line, the upper back often exhibits a C-shaped curvature. Learning to bend from the hips requires improved daily habits, physical fitness, swing technique and club fitting.
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The modern lifestyle promotes a waist bend on the golf course. Golfers and non-golfers spend hours sitting at desks, hunched over computers. They also spend a great deal of time behind the wheel of a car. A rounded upper back develops over many years of poor habits. These habits don’t disappear when a player steps on the golf course. Take note of your posture while in the car and at your work space.
Golf Swing Faults
C-posture severely limits spinal rotation, according to Greg Rose, D.C., of the Titleist Performance Institute. Players find inefficient compensations to accommodate for this physical limitation. For instance, if the spine turns insufficiently, a player might swing the arms too far on the backswing. The arms and torso then begin the downswing out of sync, and squaring the clubface at impact becomes more difficult.
Bending from the waist reflects a predictable pattern of muscular weakness and tightness identified by Czech therapist Vladimir Janda as upper crossed syndrome. The shoulders, back and neck are particularly susceptible to injury. Rounding the upper back can destabilize the shoulder joint. Weakened and tight muscles in the upper back and neck can lead to inflammation from the repetitive strain in the golf swing.
Achieving a hip bend is nearly impossible if the body lacks sufficient flexibility and strength. In extreme cases, a player should visit a massage therapist to loosen the tight areas in the neck and upper back before exercise. To stretch the upper back, perform cobras by lying on your stomach using your arms to press your chest off the ground. For strength, focus on pulling exercises in the gym.
Learning a Hip Bend
Stand up straight with a club placed vertically along your back. Keep the back of your head and your back in contact with the club. Try to eliminate all gaps between your body and the club, although you can have a slight gap at the back of your neck. Keeping a slight knee bend, slowly bend forward. Stop when the club loses contact or when maintaining contact becomes uncomfortable.
The Role of Club Fitting
If you presently bend from the waist and your clubs fit, your clubs might not fit when you learn a hip bend. Have your golf professional put you in proper setup and build a practice club to fit that setup. Continue to play with your current clubs as your setup evolves, but spend time practicing with your new club to smooth the transition to a hip-bend posture.