Nowadays, just about everyone feels their hips are too tight.
It's a complaint Ryan Summers and Matt Stevens, physical therapists and co-owners of Pure Physio (Strongsville, Ohio), hear all the time.
In response, they first examine how often the client is squatting. Squatting is generally beneficial, but too much squatting volume can potentially cause hip pain.
"When these athletes are training, they do a lot of squatting. As a result, that can create a sensation of tightness," says Summers.
For clients where this could be the case, Pure Physio usually recommends they cut their squatting volume in half to see if there's any change in symptoms.
If there's improvement, clients can slowly increase their volume by 10% each week and continue to monitor their symptoms. If there's not, they should continue decreasing volume by an additional 10% each week to see if improvement can be achieved. Swapping out a traditional Squat for a Box Squat can also be useful.
Many clients also believe that extensive stretching will cure their tight hips. However, as those with tight hips can attest to, stretching usually provides only brief relief.
"(The sensation of tightness) doesn't really mean we need to stretch out our hip flexors. We don't need to be doing Couch Stretch all the time. What we've found to be more beneficial is to maybe cut back on some of that squatting volume, but also, to look at this being a strength issue. What we do with that is just get that area stronger," Summers says.
The above video demonstrates two exercises recommended for athletes dealing with persistent hip "tightness."
First, the Psoas March.
Begin with a mini band around the middle of your feet. Then, drive one knee up along with the alternate arm. Pause for 2-3 seconds at the top of the movement.
"(You) should feel the front of that hip activating as a result," says Summers.
Perform 6-10 reps on one side before switching sides. Perform 2-4 total sets.
The second maneuver is a simple Plank.
You may already do Planks, but odds are, your technique is far too lackadaisical to get any real benefit.
Begin in a standard Plank position with elbows on the ground and your core engaged.
"From that position, I'm going to cue him to drive those elbows into the ground while pulling his toes up towards his elbows. So he's trying to pull the ground underneath him together. A nice, strong hold (for) 5-10 seconds," says Summers. "If in this position, it feels like you can hang out for 30 seconds, a minute, five minutes—it means you're not activating hard enough."
Rather than viewing Planks as an endurance contest, think of them as a 5 to 10-second maximal contraction. Each contraction is one "rep". Rest a few seconds between contractions.
With that in mind, perform three sets of between 6-10 Plank Contractions.
If you can't seem to shake your hip "tightness", try integrating these two moves into your routine.
Photo Credit: Pure Physio
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