Do you find yourself performing self-myofascial release (SMR) using the foam roller or lacrosse ball to help improve your hip mobility?
Do you find that you do this and that your mobility improves, but it just doesn’t “stick” or isn’t maintained?
The common areas that are seen for limitations in hip mobility are:
-Hip Internal/External Rotation (IR/ER)
To determine if you have normal hip mobility, try these tests:
-Hold one knee over the hip.
-Allow the other leg to completely relax and drop down towards the ground.
-Thigh drops down to the table.
-Knee is flexed to 90 degrees.
-Thigh is in line with hip joint, not flared out to the side.
-Thigh doesn’t drop down to the table.
-Knee is slightly extending.
-Thigh abducts compared to the hip joint.
If hip mobility is limited, try performing SMR work to:
Hip Internal and External Rotation:
Hip ER: 40 degrees
Hip IR: 30 degrees
If mobility is limited, perform some type of SMR to the posterior aspect of the hips.
*Note: some people may have limitations in hip ER or IR based off of soft tissue, capsular, or bony limitations. Lack of mobility may be due to other reasons that just increased soft tissue tone.
-Place your ankle above your opposite knee.
-Let your leg relax and drop down towards the ground.
Tibia within 5-10 degrees of parallel to horizon.
Tibia greater than 10 degrees away from parallel to horizon.
If adductor mobility is limited, try performing SMR with the lacrosse ball or foam roller.
Now, either you didn’t have limited mobility or now your mobility is “normal.”
Great! Now if this is what happens where your mobility “improves” and then reverts back to it feeling “tight,” this needs to be addressed.
Now, we want to check to see if you are able to access this mobility ACTIVELY!
For hip extension, lie on your stomach. You are going to palpate your Anterior Superior Iliac Spine (ASIS). This is the hip bone that you feel on the front of your body.
While lying on your stomach and palpating the ASIS, slow and controlled, lift your leg off the table.
If your ASIS pushes into your hand prior your big toe clearing the level of your opposite heel, then you may have a motor control limitation at your hip.
For Hip ER/IR, mobility needs to be checked actively.
For Hip ER, make sure to not allow the thigh to come off the table.
For Hip IR, make sure to not allow a “hip hike.” Try placing your hands on your hips to minimize this.
Trouble eye-balling it? Try using the App Clinometer on the Iphone and that can accurately measure hip mobility.
If you cannot attain 40 degrees of active hip ER or 30 degrees of active hip IR, then there may be a motor control limitation at your hip into hip ER or IR.
For adductor mobility, perform the same FABER test. If it appears limited, try performing it with core activation.
Now, if you have full mobility passively, but can’t access it actively, this is not a strength issue. It is a motor control issue.
From my previous post about shoulder mobility and motor control, the same example applies here.
Motor control is not strength. Motor control is a muscular timing and sequencing that occurs during movement. It is more about precision and control than it is pure strength.
For example, think of a slingshot.
When using a slingshot, both arms are involved. One arm is holding the slingshot while the other pulls the elastic backwards.
The arm that pulls the elastic backwards, think of that as muscular strength. It takes muscular force, usually quite a bit, to pull that backwards.
The arm that is holding the slingshot stable, think of that as motor control. It takes more control and “stability” to hold it still. It usually doesn’t require as much force as pulling the elastic backwards, but more precision.
With that being said, if you can’t perform something actively, but you have full mobility, the timing of your neuromuscular system may be adjusted.
To work on improving your active mobility or maintaining newly acquired mobility, we need to train the nervous system on how to control it.
In order to maintain new mobility, we need to have some type of movements that help to reinforce and maintain this.
Hip Extension Drills
Cook Hip Lift
-Place ball in the opposite hip crease.
-If ball pops out, you are not keeping your knee close enough to your chest.
-On stance leg, drive through the foot and extend your hip.
Quadruped Assisted Hip Extension
-Keep lumbar spine stable and don’t let it move.
-Extend through your hip.
Tall Kneeling Core Activated Hip Hinge
-Make sure to hinge from the hips, not just bending through the knees.
-Maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
-Squeeze glutes at the end of the movement.
-Make sure to not hyperextend through lumbar spine at end of movement.
Hip ER/IR Drills
Supine Assisted Hip ER/IR
-Make sure to perform slow and controlled into either ER or IR.
-Raise the leg up until the knee is at hip height while controlling ER or IR.
Quadruped Assisted Hip ER/IR
-Allow the band to assist you into these positions.
-Perform slow and controlled.
*Try placing an object on your lumbar spine to provide feedback to the person and to minimize any type of lumbar spine movement.
Hip Abduction Drills
Prone Hip ER Lifts
-Keep low back stable.
-Lift knee just far enough off the ground to slide a piece of paper underneath it.
Perform these types of movements for 3 sets x 5 reps. They should be performed slow and controlled. If your active mobility improves after a few sets of these, then that movement/exercise was the right one for you.
Two people could present the exact same, but one movement might work better for one person and not the other.
If you have a difficult time maintaining your mobility, give these drills for hip extension, hip ER/IR, and/or hip abduction a try!
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