Hip morphology in elite golfers: asymmetry between lead and trail hips

Br J Sports Med. 2016 Sep;50(17):1081-6. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096007. Epub 2016 Jun 22.


Aim: During a golf swing, the lead hip (left hip in a right-handed player) rotates rapidly from external to internal rotation, while the opposite occurs in the trail hip. This study assessed the morphology and pathology of golfers' hips comparing lead and trail hips.

Methods: A cohort of elite golfers were invited to undergo MRI of their hips. Hip morphology was evaluated by measuring acetabular depth (pincer shape=negative measure), femoral neck antetorsion (retrotorsion=negative measure) and α angles (cam morphology defined as α angle >55° anteriorly) around the axis of the femoral neck. Consultant musculoskeletal radiologists determined the presence of intra-articular pathology.

Results: 55 players (mean age 28 years, 52 left hip lead) underwent MRI. No player had pincer morphology, 2 (3.6%) had femoral retrotorsion and 9 (16%) had cam morphology. 7 trail hips and 2 lead hips had cam morphology (p=0.026). Lead hip femoral neck antetorsion was 16.7° compared with 13.0° in the trail hip (p<0.001). The α angles around the femoral neck were significantly lower in the lead compared with trail hips (p<0.001), with the greatest difference noted in the anterosuperior portion of the head neck junction; 53° vs 58° (p<0.001) and 43° vs 47° (p<0.001). 37% of trail and 16% of lead hips (p=0.038) had labral tears.

Conclusions: Golfers' lead and trail hips have different morphology. This is the first time side-to-side asymmetry of cam prevalence has been reported. The trail hip exhibited a higher prevalence of labral tears.

Keywords: Golf; Hip.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetabulum / anatomy & histology
  • Acetabulum / diagnostic imaging
  • Acetabulum / physiology
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Femoracetabular Impingement / diagnostic imaging
  • Femoracetabular Impingement / pathology
  • Femoracetabular Impingement / physiopathology
  • Femur Neck / anatomy & histology
  • Femur Neck / diagnostic imaging
  • Femur Neck / physiology
  • Golf / physiology*
  • Hip Joint / anatomy & histology*
  • Hip Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Hip Joint / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Rotation