Written By Becca Morgan
We all know the famous song “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira and honestly, although we may not be talking about the exact same thing, I couldn’t agree more with that statement. If you’ve ever felt tightness when squatting or maybe even knee pain while running you know what I’m talking about. Our hips play a critical role in our everyday movement and are one of the most used joints in our body. Think about it, without them you can’t even walk! So why don’t we do a better job taking care of and mobilizing them? A big factor is that a lot of us don’t know what mobilization even means and or looks like. So let’s break it down a bit.
Mobilization is defined as “the ability to move into normative end range positions and actively engage the surrounding muscles to stabilize and generate force throughout a desired motion(s).”
So what does this mean? It means a couple things. It means that mobility isn’t just about stretching and added flexibility. It is, yes, finding better range of motion, but then also being able to stabilize and create force in the new found range - aka skilled movement. Our goal with mobility is not to be more flexible as there is such a thing as being too flexible and is referred to as being hyper mobile. The last thing we need is hypermobile joints and athletes going and lifting heavy weights! It also means that there are normal ranges that our bodies should be able to move in and out of.
Now that we know what mobility is, why do we do it? Here at enduraLAB the main reasons we encourage mobility work is because we want to increase our athletes range of motion, improve their stability and strength in those new ranges and we want better recovery for their muscles and joints. This allows us the ability to continue to push the limits and feel good doing so! The bonus with all of this is that we are also helping prevent injury!! This is why we believe so strongly in taking time each day to focus on mobility and taking a movement based, integrated, full body approach when it comes to mobilizing.
There are different ways to mobilize, each with their own benefits. For instance, static stretches help with lengthening muscles while also helping muscle recovery. Dynamic stretching on the other hand helps with increasing our neuromuscular activation and our power output. And lastly, Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) helps with breaking up tension in our fascia, restoring sliding surfaces and increasing blood flow to that region. All of these are equally important forms of mobility that will together help us reach our optimal performance.
So how do we specifically mobilize the hip joint? The hip specifically is unique as it is a ball and socket joint meaning it can move in all 3 planes of motion. You have the sagittal plane with flexion and extension, the frontal plane with abduction and adduction and the transverse plane with internal and external rotation. You’d be surprised at how many movements you really do within each plane on a given day, especially if working out is part of your regular routine. For instance look at just the sagittal plane with flexion and extension for example; you walk, run, squat, deadlift, perform a kettlebell swing, lunge, perform box jumps, slam balls and these are just a few examples of flexion and extension! One thing I love about mobilization exercises is that a lot of them will actually help within multiple planes of motion. Below you will find a list of said movements so that you can start to target specific restrictions on your own!
You may be feeling overwhelmed. You’re thinking I know it’s important and I want to do it but I don’t even know where to get started. So word of advice, start small; 5 degree shifts now, over time will grow into 30 degree changes! Small shifts like standing for 10 minutes out of every hour at work, hitting a mobilization stretch while watching your favorite show at the end of the day, committing a specific day to mobility/recovery work, performing your daily CARS each morning. All of these are simple steps that you can take that I promise will make a difference. Studies show that accumulating just 10 minutes a day will have a lasting impact! So if you’re sitting and reading this, stand up, hit like and plan out what mobilization for the rest of your week looks like!
Visit our youtube channel to find videos on how to mobilize the hips from this blog post!