I can’t get my hips back! I’m coach John Welch from EZIA Human Performance, and if I had a dime for every person I’ve coached that has at some point said this to me, I would have A LOT of dimes. Many people, from athletes to desk jockeys, lack mobility in the hips and many people from both ends of that spectrum end up with a low back, knee or ankle injury because of it. Rather on an Olympic lifting platform or on the goal line of a football field power is generated at the hips. Many muscles cross the hip joint and when used synergistically they can create allot of force in a short amount of time. Part of what allows the hips to be such a key component to performance is these muscles ability to create and guide force while changing length rapidly. The catch is that you have to have the flexibility in these muscles necessary to allow multiple low positions which are required at some point in most sports especially if you want to avoid injury. The bottom line is that if you clean, snatch, squat, pull or from time to time find yourself coming out of or dropping into low positions and you lack mobility in the hips your low back, knees and or ankles will suffer the consequences.
What to do about it? As I mentioned in my last article, Olympic lifting – Upper Body Flexibility, self myo facial relief or foam rolling, soft tissue work, static stretching, PNF stretching and worm up are all tools that can be used to improve flexibility. I don’t generally recommend stretching prior to exercise because it has been found that this can temporarily disrupt function of the nerves involved which can diminish force.
In a nut shell, less strength and power. No good.
There are some people who are extremely tight to the point they simply cannot safely force there body into the proper positioning. For these cases pre-stretching only of the muscles inhibiting needed range of motion is advised. I almost always recommend stretching after an exercise routine. At this point the muscles are warm, easier manipulated and receptive to stretch. A hot bath or shower after your stretching session may further assist adaptation.
Which Muscles? For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the muscles that surround the hips. The restricted motion may be caused by tight hip flexors, tight hip extensors and adductors or tight external rotators. To find exactly which muscles are tight and how tight in relation to their symmetrical partner these muscles are is a detailed process. This is something that is outside of the scope of this article, though if needed is something I or one of our therapists at EZIA can help with. To start, try to find where in your positioning you have trouble maintaining correct form.
Is it in the receiving phase of a snatch? In the triple extension phase of a clean pull? The top of your serve or the landing during a box jump?
Once you identify the restricted range of motion, stretch the area where the needed motion is inhibited. Given below are some examples of stretches which may prove helpful to assist you on your quest to attain ultimate Endurance, Strength and Power! Until next time have fun. Coming up next is the importance of a Dynamic Warm Up.