If you’re reading this then it’s probably true - your hips suck.
That’s okay, trust us. We’ve both struggled with the way our hips move, leading to frustrating chronic issues throughout the entire kinetic chain. From being in your situation before, we can assure that it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s always a way to improve the way you move or feel, regardless of your genetics, MRI readings, or lingering fears medical practitioners may have ingrained in your brain in the past.
As a strength coach and physical therapist tandem, one thing we pride ourselves on is treating you versus treating your diagnosis. You have IT Band Syndrome? A partially torn labrum? Glute “amnesia”? Well, what do these diagnoses really mean?
Everything we mentioned above can be the result from an infinite amount of variables.
What’s your injury history look like? Have you ever torn a ligament, tendon, or other type of connective tissue?
How well do you internally rotate your hips?
Can you extend your hip without compensating through your lower back?
Does your foot function the way a foot should function?
…and this is really just scratching the surface with the questions we can ask.
Without having you in front of us, it’s impossible to tell you what you specifically need. A thorough evaluation is the best way to determine where you currently are and how to map out where you want to be.
With that being said, here’s what you should do to progress your hip mobility and health.
If you follow us on social media, you’ve more than likely seen the acronym CARs in our posts. CARs, or Controlled Articular Rotations, are essentially the Swiss army knife of mobility training. We use CARs to maintain range of motion and strengthen the current ranges we have access to.
Alongside training, CARs are a self-assessment tool. They allow you to actively move one joint independently from the rest of the body’s joints. Can you move your shoulder overhead without side-bending or rotating the spine? Are you able to rotate your tibia (shin bone) without the ankle pronating or supinating? These are questions that you can answer by executing CARs with intent.
For the hips, you have to ask determine whether you can flex, extend, abduct, adduct, internally rotate, and externally rotate without compensation. This is a lot to ask, obviously.
However, if you want a healthy hip, you need to understand these movements and whether or not you’re capable of performing them without compensation.
This video further explains the benefits of CARs:
Perform CARs Daily
As great as CARs are, they won’t do much for you if you’re performing them once a week. We exhaust it to all of our clients that CARs have to be done every single day. We get asked all the time how many sets and reps should be done. Our answer?
“As many sets and as many reps as you can do on a daily basis.”
Now, this doesn’t mean that we want you to quit your job and give up the things you love for CARs. We’d be hypocrites if that was the case. However, we firmly believe that you can’t overdo it with CARs because of the bodyweight nature of the motion. Without external loading from gym equipment, it simply comes down to the joint being trained versus gravity.
If you can, try to perform one-to-two minutes of hip CARs after each meal. A few reps daily will go a lot further for you in the long run versus a surplus of CARs performed once every seven days.
Look at Other Joints
You’d be surprised at the number of people that come to us with “tight” hips that have hips that actually move pretty well. How is this possible?
When it comes to movement, the effect isn’t always the cause.
Your hip tightness can come from a multitude of issues at other joints. Remember that bullet point list from earlier? You might have noticed we mentioned how your foot functions. Your big toe, ankle, tibia, spine, and shoulders can all be culprits behind your hips not feeling too hot.
In one way or another, everything is connected. Don’t neglect the rest of your joints just because your left hip feels stuck.
Use Isometrics in Your Training
One final thing we want to touch on today is the use of isometrics within your training. Before explaining how we use isometrics, it’s important to understand what isometrics are.
An isometric muscular contraction is when a muscle group contracts at a certain joint angle and maintains this angle throughout the duration of the contraction. Basically, isometric training is when you hold a specific position and contract your muscles to make sure you aren’t moving.
We use isometrics a ton. With newer clients, we like to have them hold certain positions to understand what they should feel in said positions. TRX rows, squats, single-leg deadlifts, and Pallof presses are just a few of the movements we’ll use isometric holds with. Creating awareness in space with self-limiting movements is one of our main objectives when implementing isometrics.
Isometric training is also a great way to expand on your current ranges of motion. As we stated earlier, you’ve probably seen the acronyms PAILs and RAILs on our social media feeds at some point. PAILs and RAILs, or Progressive and Regressive Angular Isometric Loading, are isometric contractions in specific positions to help build connective tissue strength while creating capsular space at a joint. Because these are active isometric contractions, you don’t have to worry about creating instability at a joint when we mention creating space at the joint’s capsule.
Here’s an example of a hip internal rotation PAILs/RAILs contraction we like to use:
Isometrics are a safe and effective way to train a joint without to use of external load. If you’re someone that struggles with hip mobility, you should be engaging in some type of PAILs and RAILs work to further layer your CARs training.
Now, you might be thinking all of this is too overwhelming and your hip issues aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. We get it.
The most important thing that we’ll continue to emphasize is how you have to be consistent with your mobility training. You can have the perfect PAILs/RAILs setup to improve your hip rotation, but if you’re not performing it frequently, it really doesn’t matter. Hip mobility, just like any other type of skill acquisition, comes down to repeated exposure and execution with intent.
With this in mind, we want to offer you the opportunity to take your mobility training to levels you never thought possible. Our Virtual Kinstretch Program was built with one goal in mind - to provide an interactive experience to help you achieve your mobility goals if you don’t have access to in-person training.
For just a dollar, here’s what you’ll receive: