The Med Gym
Hip Mobility Week 13 - Wrapping It Up
By David Drinks
We have made it to the final week of our hip mobility series! It’s hard to believe, but we began three months ago with our intro to the series. Over the span of the past 12 weeks, we introduced you to a lot of different mobility drills that you can do to improve your hip mobility and your overall movement.
The main theme of the series has been to emphasize how crucial hip mobility is to keeping other joints in your body healthy. Specifically, the joints above and below the hips – your low back (lumbar spine) and knees – tend to be the most impacted by a lack of hip mobility.
Of course, good hip mobility will also go a long way in keeping your hips healthy!
Nevertheless, one of the key concepts in understanding how the joints function and consequently understanding how to properly train them is called the joint by joint approach. This approach states that the joints in the body tend to work in an alternating pattern of stiff/stable and mobile as you move up and down the body.
For example, your ankle is a tri-planar joint (meaning it can move in all three planes of motion) and requires more mobility. Moving up from the ankle, your knee primarily flexes and extends in one plane of motion and requires more stability. Up from the knee, your hip is a joint that moves in all planes of motion and requires more mobility (as we’ve been discussing!). Up from there, the lumbar spine is a series of joints composed of 5 lumbar vertebrae, all of which are much bulkier and made to handle heavier loading – thus, they require more stiffness to work effectively.
I could go on, moving up and down the kinetic chain, but we’ll keep it focused on the hip. The point of going over the joint by joint approach, though, is to show you that each joint behaves in a specific way, and each joint also relies on its neighboring joints to behave the way that they’re supposed.
When the hip stops moving as it should, your body is still going to do the movements that you ask of it, but it just might find a different, less optimal way of doing it. A good example of this would be rounding the low back to pick something up instead of performing a quality hip hinge.
Another example is when you twist the knees excessively when attempting to cross your legs to put shoes on due to a lack of hip rotation.
Either way, you’re usually going to find a way to get the job done, but it may not be optimal. That’s a big problem because performing hundreds or thousands of repetitions with poor movement at the low back or knees to make up for a lack of hip mobility is a great way to end up with low back or knee pain.
On the other hand, one of the reasons that you can develop tight hips in the first place is because your body instinctively locks down at the hips to make up for a low back that has become unstable. Too much mobility in the low back in this case can lead to negative stiffness in the hips. Once you work on your core stability to provide stiffness and stability around the low back, suddenly your hips release!
So, you can see that it’s imperative for good function and good joint health that all your joints are doing their job.
That’s why we went right from our Smart Core Training series into our Hip Mobility series. Once you get both your core stability and hip mobility down, and you integrate those two pieces of the puzzle, that can solve 90% of your movement problems (No, that’s not an exact number based on science, but you get the point!).
When NOT to Push Hip Mobility Training
The other point I wanted to make as we wrap up the series is that – even though I make it sound like better hip mobility will cure all of your life’s problems – that’s certainly not the case. In fact, there will be certain cases where people don’t respond well to some or all the hip mobility training that we’ve overviewed in this series.
Simply put, it’s important to understand that not every hip is ready to be stretched, nor will every hip respond well to mobility work.
In most cases, pain will be the indicator that something is wrong. I’m talking about sharp pain in the joint that does not feel like normal stretching.
In cases such as this, there may be structural changes to the joint or the joint capsule that are preventing you from moving your hips in a certain direction. I talk more about this in the video but suffice it to say that you should see a medical professional if you experience pain with movement.
Sometimes, we make the mistake of thinking that we can just stretch and strengthen every problem away, but that’s not always the case.
So, that is my disclaimer. If you have pain with a certain movement at your hip, I want you to get that checked out by a medical professional. If you’re unsure, feel free to contact us at the Med Gym and we can help to point you in the right direction.
With all that said, I sincerely hope that you’ve enjoyed this series and that it has been helpful to you. Check out the video below where I wrap it up and keep those hips mobile!
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Contact us here to talk about how we can help you develop an exercise routine that improves your hip mobility and so much more!