The thigh bone is connected to the hip bone...the hip bone is connected to the...well, everything really. This week's post is all about hips, femurs, and the stickiness in between. For some of us, when we squat or pull our knee into our chest we feel a pinching sensation in the front of our hip, right where our hip flexor is. You might even feel like you are hitting bone-on-bone when attempting a full depth squat, as if you are stuck or inhibited in your range of motion. Surprise fact: YOU ARE (or at least this is a possibility).
Hip impingement is an inhibition of the head of your thigh bone (femoral head) to reach full-range of motion in your hip socket (acetabular). Those hips ain't lying to you. Impingement can happen in response to structural issues. For example if the head of the femur is larger than the socket, misshapen, or if excess bone has grown on the head of the femur or acetabular (socket) rim you will experience impingement.
Other reasons for impingement though can be mobility and this is where MOD comes in. The following three dynamic mobility exercises are designed to pull the femoral head towards the back side of the acetabula in order to create more freedom in the front of the hip. If I have totally lost you in the anatomy at this point, don't worry, just try these exercises out and tell me you didn't experience more range of motion (ROM) in your squat. See that's a trick because you won't be able to, get it? The videos below show the athlete using a resistance band to draw the femur back in space, however, if you do not have a band you can still do these exercises. You will need to use your muscles, as you should anyway, to really push the thigh bone back.
QUADRAPED w/ hip slide and spine extension/flexion
Set-up: Attach a resistance band to a sturdy pole or rig at knee height. Step your left leg in the band and settle the band into your hip crease. Walk forward (away from the rig) until you can't anymore and then come down onto your hands and knees. Continue to scoot forward as much as you can (it may be more comfortable to use padding under your knees). From this quadruped position begin to move around. Slide your hips side to side, especially pushing out to the left side on the banded hip. Go through extension and flexion of the spine (cat/cow for all you yogis). You should feel a bit of a stretch in that outer hip on the banded leg but more importantly you are looking for pressure on the head of your thigh bone. Hang out here for a good two to five minutes, ALWAYS moving.
QUADRAPED in PIGEON w/ hip slide
Set-up: Same set-up on the rig with band at knee height in quadruped position. This time though bring your left foot towards your right wrist. Try to get your left shin to be perpendicular to your right shin. Use your right knee as leverage by sliding it up to meet the left ankle/achilles. This shift should definitely kick it up a notch in terms of stretching that left outer hip and butt. Still however focus on letting your thigh bone sink back into the socket. Keep fluid movement, shift side to side and front to back for a full two to five minutes.
Set-up: Alright, this part gets a little tricky, but I believe in you. Remember, your hips are hanging in the balance! Keeping your left leg in the band, gently come to a standing position and turn around to face the rig. Walk through the rig to a diagonally placed post. Square yourself to the post, getting fairly close so that you can hold on with both hands. Lower yourself into as solid of a full depth squat as you can. Feel free to really pull on the rig with your arms to encourage a straight spine. From here, begin to move your knee to the left and right (also known as "flossing"). It is important to NOT move your foot. It is only the knee moving and we are especially looking for movement to the outside, or left on this leg. Continue flossing for two to five minutes.
Then what: Do all three exercises on the left leg first. Once you have finished the hip flossing get up, walk around, and then complete five to 10 air squats. Take notice of any change in ROM on the left hip vs. the right hip. Is there more freedom to move? Remember, those hips don't lie dude/dudette, they will speak to you if you listen.
As we have discussed in past posts, dynamic mobility exercises are best done before the workout. It is totally fine to do these after but you will see the most benefit by doing them before. These exercises will improve your squats, lunges, deadlifts, cleans etc. and can be coupled nicely with the static and dynamic stretches in the MOD deck like pigeon and squat holds.
There you have it MODers. So be wise, and keep on reading the signs of your body (all my Shakira fans out there, you know what I mean). Hips don't lie.