If your golf swing is weak and feels upper body-driven, poor lower extremity mobility may be stealing your power and leaving you as the guy no one wants to play with on a scramble. Or does your athlete look rigid on his lead leg while pitching (or rear leg while swinging)? Check this out:
When analyzing an athlete's movement, it's important to realize that human movement is a system of systems. While that may sound complicated, what we find is that oftentimes clearing up a dysfunctional pattern can resolve poor position and position = power.
Check out the the video above. In the video of super-stud Jared Krout (speed coach extraordinaire - he'll be featured on this site in future posts), you can see that as he rotates he's essentially running out of room in his hip and any further rotation comes from his spine. This is a sweet example of Regional Interdependence, in which dysfunction in one region causes dysfunction in another. It doesn't take much to figure that his rotation has to come from somewhere and once runs out of internal rotation and jams his femur into his pelvis, the rest of the motion will come from the lumbar spine, potentially causing some back pain down the road.
Obviously I have oversimplified the analysis of this (motor control is always an issue with athletes in addition to mobility - more on this in later posts), but look at how much his rotation improves! In my practice, we will typically go after this with several correlate movements (conjugate training/mobility) in addition to the one Jared is doing, followed by actually practicing the affected movement (golf swing in this case) to motor program the movement and maintain his new range of motion.
Poor hip rotation is a huge problem in rotational athletes including throwers. We see an increase in upper extremity injuries in those with poor hip internal rotation as they essentially make up for the loss of hip rotation through the shoulder and elbow (also potentially through the lumbar spine). Lacking hip internal rotation may also be correlated to hip impingement (FAI - femoroacetabular impingement) and possibly cause poor positioning of the knee and ankle (knee valgus). Mobility and control of the body over a fixed leg is huge folks and we're going to come after this like an angry caddie in future posts.
In this video, you can see how poor hip mobility can negatively your swing (and this dude could use some more hip mobility himself).
Check out these articles on the correlation of hip range and injuries (Nerd Alert):
Associations Among Hip and Shoulder Range of Motion and Shoulder Injury in Professional Baseball Players
Hip rotation in golfers may determine pathology
Basically, by putting the athlete into positions of restriction and improving that position we can optimize their movement at these limited end-ranges of movement. Why should you care? Because your performance will improve and your back won't feel like a wet rag after 18 holes. And your church league softball swing may have a little more oomph in it. After all, performance improvements are what we really care about. Try the method above - one of many ways to improve hip internal rotation - and let me know what you think.