I remember as a kid watching the Disney version of “A Christmas Carol.” Goofy, representing the ghost of Jacob Marley, was doomed to wear heavy chains as punishment for his greedy ways during life. I recall thinking how difficult it would be to walk around with heavy chains all the time. Lesson learned, I tried to share my toys more and not be greedy.
Then I thought: “How heavy could ghost chains really be? They couldn’t be that heavy if you can see through them. Being able to float and walk through walls might be kind of neat.”
Ghost-chain tangent aside, having tight hips can be like a long prison sentence. Tightness can lead to pain in one place or another. It can cause you to move slower and with more effort. It’s like walking in mud everywhere you go. Using today’s hip pre-hab movements will help keep your hips loose and mobile.
Like most tight muscles, they sneak up on you slowly. Tight muscles can be caused by several things. Moving too much, moving too little, moving wrong or trauma are just a few of the common culprits. Finding the cause can be tricky and unrewarding because nothing is fixed. You’re still right where you started, all locked up like Tin Man without an oil can.
Hip anatomy is fascinating. Your hip is a ball and socket joint that allows for a large range of motion. Holding the joint together are most of the largest muscles in your body. Hip rotators are relatively small but give you rotational movement of your leg. On top of those are glutes, the Ferrari of your muscles. Quads, hamstrings, adductors and abductors all connect your leg to your pelvis. Everything is in perfect position to enable the body to perform a variety of movements.
Hips are powerful joints. Their supermove is the extension. Hip extension happens when you stand up. It’s the straightening of the leg at the hip. The best athletes have mastered hip extension. Not only controlled extension, but fast and powerful hip extension.
If the hips are locked up because of tight muscles, then the ability to generate power becomes difficult. Not only is there a lack of power, but there can also be a lack of mobility. Getting into a squat position can feel like a struggle; Burpees begin to take on a new level of difficulty. Even getting up and down off the floor makes the body grunt.
Because the body is so efficient, it attempts to make up for a lack of mobility in one area by using another. This means the lack of hip mobility can be taken over by the spine or the knees and ankles. Ouch. That is like running jet fuel in your mom’s car. Sure it may go fast for a while, but the engine will not last.
Today’s pre-hab movements are some of my favorites to get the hips mobile. Use these together with the foam rolling techniques found on www.lvrj.com/trainer. The first stretch comes right out of yoga. It’s the pigeon pose. I find it is gentle and most people can get into it. I have only had a handful of athletes who can’t get into this pose. Take this stretch slowly in the beginning. Those with knee pain may be cautious of the pigeon pose because of the way the front leg is bent. If your knee bothers you during this stretch then stop it.
The hip opener stretch can be done as a static stretch with a 20-second hold or a dynamic stretch with a one- to two-second hold. I have found this stretch to be helpful for increasing squat depth and general mobility.
Chris Huth is a Las Vegas trainer. If you are a Las Vegas trainer and want to share your love of fitness as a guest coach or are interested in more information, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.