Health

Golfers have unusual hips, study suggests

man playing golf Image copyright Thinkstock

Professional golfers are likely to have oddly shaped hip joints, researchers have discovered.

The University of Warwick team put 55 elite players into medical MRI scanners and, to their surprise, found many had egg-shaped right hips while their left joints were the usual ball shape.

Whether golfing causes the deformity or not is unclear, they say in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Almost a fifth of the 2015 Scottish Hydro Challenge players had hip pain.

Lead researcher Prof Damian Griffin said shape mismatch between the hips might explain some of the pain reported by the golfers.

Dr Andrew Murray, specialist sports doctor for the European golf tour, said: "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."

Image copyright SPL

When a golfer takes a swing at the ball, the two hips rotate in different directions and at different speeds.

The egg shape seen on some of the scans was visible in 16% of right hips - the rear hip during a swing in a right-handed player - and 4% of left hips - the front hip during the swing in a right-handed player - in the professional golfers.

The condition, known as cam rotation, reduces the natural range of movement of the hip.

Co-researcher Dr Edward Dickenson said: "Our findings have brought up new questions to be answered.

"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."

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