Hip Mobility Week 7 - The Kneeling Glute Mobilization
By David Drinks
In this week’s episode of our hip mobility series, we’re going to be working on many of the same muscles that we talked about with the figure 4 stretch from last week. However, we’re going to be getting at it from a different and slightly more challenging set up – the kneeling or quadruped position.
While I call today’s mobility drill a “glute mobilization”, in reality, we’re working to mobilize much more than just the glute muscles. When performing this stretch, we can effectively mobilize the three glute muscles:
We can also effectively mobilize the other hip extensor and rotator muscles that originate and attach in a similar place to the glute muscles:
Superior and Inferior Gemellus
Obturator Externus and Internus
All of these muscles attach at various points along the back of the pelvis and to the back of the head of the femur, also known as your hip bone.
In addition to these muscles, you also have three main ligaments that serve to hold the head of the femur in the socket, and these ligaments make up what we call the joint capsule. In some people, the joint capsule is very tight, and they have a lot of stability and stiffness inherent at their hips. In other people – like those people who can put their leg over their head! – the joint capsule is inherently more mobile, thus allowing more freedom of movement at the hip.
Now, I'm not saying it's right or wrong to have a joint capsule that is set up to be more stiff or more mobile. Both of these categories have benefits and drawbacks to them.
For example, people who are inherently tighter through their joint capsule will probably not succeed easily in ballet or gymnastics, but they are much better prepared to handle heavy loads on their bodies.
On the other hand, those people who make great ballerinas because they have a ton of mobility at their hips, are going to be more likely to run into problems of instability at the hip, which can create pain.
What is usually the best case is to understand where you're at and what your needs are. If you know that you have very limited hip mobility, then you may have a tighter hip capsule, and benefit greatly from mobility drills like the one we'll go over today.
Conversely, if you have more than your fair share of hip mobility already than what you likely need more work on is stability and control at the hip joint so that you can control the huge range of motion that you have.
The main point is that working somewhere in the middle of too much and too little hip mobility is ideal. You have to have enough to move your hip well, but not so much that it leads to instability.
The problem for many people, however, is that they tend to lose hip mobility as they age if they don’t work to maintain it. A lot of this likely comes from a natural loss of elasticity throughout the body as you get older, but it can also result from activities that don’t encourage positive hip movement. Things like sitting all day every day.
Because of this, not only can the muscles around the hip become tight, but the ligaments that comprise the hip capsule can also become increasingly tight, limiting your ability to move the hip through a full range of motion.
Fortunately, with some healthy hip mobility work, you can gradually regain and maintain your hip mobility!
Today’s hip mobility drill will focus on mobilizing the posterior aspect of the hip, including the posterior hip capsule, the glute muscles, and the other hip extensors and rotators. As I said, it’s more than just a glute mobilization!
One of the major problems that can result from losing mobility through the posterior aspect of the hip is that it will limit your ability to move back into your hips.
This is crucial when seeking to perform movements like hip hinges, and Deadlift variations. If you can only move so far back into your hip when trying to stick your butt out to properly perform a hip hinge or deadlift then you’re going to have to compensate by rounding the low back or bending the knees too much to make up for your lack of posterior hip mobility.
So, if you struggle with properly hinging at the hip, deadlifting, or even bending over to touch your toes, then today’s hip mobility drill is for you!
Check it out:
I tend to keep this drill to a lower volume of sets and reps. Often, only performing it for 1 set of 6-8 reps as part of the warm-up. While it is hugely beneficial to mobilize the hip, there can also be some problems that arise from getting too crazy when trying to mobilize the posterior ligaments of the hip.
Many people try to get too carried away when seeking to improve hip mobility, and they overdo the amount of mobility and stretching that they do at the hip. When this happens, they frequently end up stretching out the ligaments of the hip capsule too much, resulting in more instability at the joint.
While we want to increase hip mobility for those people who need it, we don’t want to do so at the cost of creating excessive instability at the joint. For that reason, I like to take a more gradual approach by using the glute mobilization and many other hip mobility drills regularly, but not too much all at once.
So, if you have a fair amount of tightness around your hips, give the kneeling glute mobilization a try, and see how much better you start moving and feeling!
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