This one is for those of you who ever feel tight in the front of your hip or maybe in the past, you’ve tweaked your hip flexor. And it isn’t for those of you who just like, “Yes, I just tore my hip flexor yesterday.” This isn’t a rehab exercise. But if you’ve ever feel tight in here or you’ve tweaked your hip flexor before, I got a little secret, a little trick that’s going to help sort of unlock that mobility and pretty much instantly make it feel better.
If you want to see the full demonstration of this, be sure to check out the YouTube video >> https://youtu.be/OWRc_7NhvK0
In this video we’re going to do a test, re-test so you can feel the difference of how this little trick kind of instantly unlocks your hip flexor and it’s not even a stretch. I’ll show you exactly what I mean and then I’m going to give you some strategies to help keep your hips more open.
I pulled this one out when I was at one of the elite goalie camps last summer and sort of the top end guys were starting to feel a bit of the wear and tear as the days of the camp wore on because it was a really intense camp. They were feeling tight in their hips.
We pulled this out and it worked fantastically so I’m going to share it with you now.
It looks a little bit funny. So you might not want to do it in a regular gym or somebody might call the police or something on you.
We’re going to start with it, with sort of a pre-test or a test and then we’ll do a re-test.
All you’re going to do for your test is you’re just going to find a space where you can walk. So the space I have back here is about 15 meters long. I would just walk back and forth down the floor and you’re not even going to really think about how you’re walking. You’re just going to walk as you normally would and try to get a little snapshot of just “how do my hips feel? What do my feet sound like when they’re hitting the floor? What’s the rhythm of my stepping?”
Just take a little snapshot of what it looks and feels like.
You’ve seen people working on sort of hip flexor release and mashing on it with the plate and I think those things work and they’re good. But what we’re going to do today is a little more precise than that.
The key to this one is finding the right spot and it’s a little bit tricky to find, and again, it looks a little odd. So you really need to dig in there with your fingers or your thumb to get in the right spot.
First, lay down on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor.
So I will find my hip bone. It’s called my ASIS, the front of my pelvis. I’m going to come inside of that and almost try to trace the inner aspect of my pelvis and get right in there because I’m trying to get a muscle that’s called the iliopsoas.
I don’t know that we actually get right on it, but that’s what we’re trying to do.
Then from this position, I think I’ve got it, I can kind of lift my knee off the floor and see if I feel a little tension underneath my fingers where I’ve got them.
Then what I do, you just find it there, then what I do is I’m going to almost distract my hip. So the knee that is on the same side of the hip I have my fingers in, I’m just going to take that knee out over my toes. So it’s like I’m trying to telescope my knee out towards my toes.
It’s a little funny, but it’s just a slight movement. Really I’m moving my pelvis and I’m keeping the pressure there on the inside of my hip and I’m going to do about 12 or 15. I really want to be on the inside of my pelvis, not in my abdomen and not pushing on my gizzard or my intestines or anything. I want to stay deep in there.
So I’m distracting for 15 and then I’m going to get up and I’m going to re-test. So you’ll do both sides then you’re going to walk the floor a couple more times just paying attention to how it feels. What I find is I feel like my feet land a lot less heavy and it’s a little bit hard to describe, but it just feels like my hips flow, like there isn’t that same internal resistance.
Not that when I did my pre-test and it was like, “Oh yeah, my hips feel really stiff.” But it’s just now it’s like, “Wow, they feel like they’re really free to move.”
So that’s a technique that will instantly unlock your hip flexors. Then let’s look at some strategies that can help sort of keep your hips nice and open over time.
Our hip flexors do take a bit of a beating partly because we’re sitting a lot of our day and so our body just adapts to what it knows. So if we’re always in a flexed hip position, it just thinks, “Well, these muscles should be short.” It doesn’t kind of reason itself, “Well, but then we stand up every so often and maybe we should be longer.”
Our body just adapts. It’s amazing like that. So that’s one reason.
Another reason is that you don’t give them the attention that they deserve. Sometimes when you stretch them. The problem is you have to be very good at stabilizing your pelvis to stretch your hip flexors and a lot of us just aren’t aware, not that you’re trying to do it wrong, but you just don’t realize it. So what you end up doing is stretching your abdominals by extending your low back, which is again is something we really don’t want you to do at all.
I think the third reason that they’re a bit of a mess and a problem area for so many of you is that just you don’t understand the anatomy, which again, that’s not your wheelhouse. You’re supposed to stop the pucks, not know all your anatomy. But there is a couple of different hip, let’s just say there are two different hip flexors for to make it really simple.
One of them attaches on that ASIS that I used as a landmark and it goes all the way down my thigh and then attaches on my tibial tubercle. So it becomes my quadriceps tendon and my patellar tendon and it attaches. So it’s one of my quadricep muscles, it’s called the rectus femoris. So it does two things. It extends my knee and it flexes my hip. So that’s one of them.
Sometimes we overuse this a lot because the other hip flexor is a little underactive and it’s called the iliopsoas. So that’s what we’re trying to get in on and mash around on. It kind of comes from my upper thigh. It has an attachment on the inside of my pelvis, but it also comes sort of right through my body to attach to all of my lumbar vertebrae, but on the front side.
So I want you to be able to appreciate how, if that iliopsoas is tight too, it pulls you into this kind of extended posture, which you’ll see a lot of hockey players have and you kind of think, “Oh they’ve got such a big bum because they’re skating muscles.” It’s like, nope. They got big bum because they’re tight in their hips and they’re getting pulled into that extended position.
So okay that’s all great Maria. But what do I do so that I’m not all locked up?
The answer is giving attention to both of those muscles. So when we do our Lacrosse ball work, for example, we’re getting in, we’re rolling on that big rectus femoris, that big bundle of muscle I feel here. But I’m also getting in and tacking down that area where the iliopsoas.
If I’m working my rectus femoris, my big sort of more superficial hip flexor, I can get on it. I can roll. If I find a trigger point, I can just tack it down and sit there until it kind of melts away.
I can also do some active motion. So I’m using the ball to tack the muscle down and now I’m moving the muscle underneath the fascia. So I can do active rotation. Then you’re going to get inside as well.
Usually, we do a little more just tack this down, but you definitely could do active extension as well. So that’ll help look after some of the tissue quality, stimulate some of the fascia, and that is a really good way to unlock and keep your hips a little more open.
The next thing is to just stretch them properly. So you’ll often do one or other, but not both.
Half kneeling hip flexor, you’ve probably have all done this, but if you look around at a team doing half kneeling hip flexor, half of them are extended too far forward, not doing it well. So what is this? Well, my hip doesn’t actually extend that much. Nobody’s hip extends that much. So part of it is just that I’m leaning forward, so I’m really almost in a neutral hip position anyway.
If I bring my chest up, I can still do it. Oh yeah, I feel a stretch. But look at my back position. That’s lumbar extension. I actually also feel a stretch in my abdominals. It’s not so much getting that front of my hip. In this position, I should be getting my iliopsoas, my deep hip flexor.
So what I want to do is come into a tall neutral position and just tuck my bum underneath slightly, not lean back, tuck my bum underneath slightly, and then I can come forward a little bit. Now I feel it isolated here to the front of my hip. With this one, not so much down into my thigh. Which leads some of you to think, “Oh, I’m not feeling a stretch.” Well, no, listen to your body. Yeah, there’s a tension there. It’s not the same as a stretch. You feel kind of in the mid substance of your quadricep, but you’re still getting a stretch.
So that’s to get the deeper iliopsoas.
The second one to do, is to get the rectus femoris. So we talked about the rectus femoris. We talked about how it crosses the hip and the knee joints. So I need to keep my hip in neutral or slightly extended and then I need to flex at my knee. I could have my foot on the wall or I can do it just like this.
Oh, now I feel that more in the mid substance of my thigh. Boy, that’s a really good stretch and I not going to hyperextend my low back to get that. I want to kind of keep my ribs down as I feel that stretch. So those are the two specific stretches you can do for your hip flexors and you’ll hold those for about 30 seconds each.
So now we have it stretched out. We’ve done some soft tissue or tissue quality work. We’ve stretched it. The next part of it is to activate that deep hip flexors. I quickly mentioned before that sometimes we just under use it and it gets a little bit inhibited. So we’re going to just gently kind of turn it on and get it doing its job again.
So I’m going to lay on my back with one leg straight on the floor and the other bent in the air. When I try to activate my iliopsoas, I want to have my knee as high as my belly button. If I’m down here at more of a 90 degree angle position, my rectus femoris, this one that’s also a quadricep muscle is actually pretty strong up to this level. So if I’m doing it at the 90 degree, I’m probably getting this to do more of the work, which is one of the things that kind of happens naturally anyway. It wants to take over.
So I’m going to get my knee up as high as my belly button. I’m going to just hold it there with my opposite hand, just it a medium push. I’m not trying to push it hard. That’ll be hard for sure. But then you’re going to be bringing in all these other muscles to help out.
So I’m really just going to give it enough so there’s a bit of resistance for my knee to push into and that’s using my deep hip flexor. I’m going to hold that for about five seconds. Again, it’s a light push. Come on the other side. My knee is as high as my belly button. Nice and gently push. So that’s just how we kind of turn it on, wake it up, get it going.
Then the next exercise I’m going to show you is going to challenge it a little bit more.
You should try this one actually before you even do any of the other exercises. So as soon as you finish or right now, I want you to try doing this because you’ll be surprised that you’ll be like, “I can’t actually do that at all.” You’ll feel like, “I know exactly what I’m supposed to do and I know it should be so easy, but I can’t make my leg do that.”
When I show you what it is, you’ll be like, “As if my leg is not going to do that,” and then you’ll do it and you’ll be like, “Oh my God. My leg won’t do that.”
So you’re going to just sit on something so your knees can be at a 90 degree, sit up nice and tall, keep a good neutral spine so that … You’ll cheat a million ways. But one of the biggest ways you’ll cheat is you’ll sit back to make room.
So you’re going to stay up nice and tall, and then you’re just going to bring one knee up as high as your belly button. But you’re going to stay tall. Bring your knee up as high as your belly button.
Some of you will get your foot off the floor a little bit, but there’s … You’ll be like, “There’s no way that thing’s getting as high as my belly button.”
Some of you will do it, and then immediately get “wham” with a cramp right in the front of your hip and you’ll grab it like that and then you’ll probably roll onto the floor and scream a little bit, and then your family will come and they’ll be like, “What happened?” You’d be like, “I got a hip cramp.” They’ll be like, “What? So whatever.” You’ll get no sympathy at all.
So anyway, you’ve been warned.
So let’s look at the people who just are like, “Yeah, it’s not going to do that.” This is what I want you to do. Bring it as high as you can without killing yourself. Then let’s do the same thing. Just a gentle push down with your hand, one, two, three, four, five and relax. You’re going to do three like that. Then you’re going to do a little re-test and see and you’ll find that it’s going to probably get up a little higher just because you facilitated that deep hip flexor. You just help prime it.
Remember you used to have to prime the motor of the lawnmower before you’d crank it. This is exactly what we’re doing.
So you’re going to sit up tall, get your knee as high as your belly button. Even if you think you’re getting it pretty good, do just a little five-second press down on each side, do three on each side with a five-second press down (easy, easy press down), and then do three on each side without a press down, just holding for five seconds to work on that facilitation.
So those are some ways that you can kind of instantly unlock your hip. A little bit of a trick, if you will. Three strategies you can use to keep your hips open.
I’ll also mention that I have a 14-day flexibility program specifically for goalies. It’s free. The focus is a little bit on getting a wider butterfly flair and most goalies get two to four inches wider flare after the two weeks. So I’ll just post the link below. You can check it out there.
If there’s any area, I’m a little interested in this, so I’ll ask you for your help, but if there’s a specific area in your hips that feels the most tight, the front or the side or the side to the front or groins or whatever, just post it below and let me know so that I can either share some strategies I have or work on coming up with some new strategies that will help you out.
Remember, I never ever share just a fad exercise. It’s like, “Oh, I saw this. It looks cool, like let’s all do it.” If I ever am experimenting on you, “Hey, I came up with this new idea, tell me what you think.” I’ll let you know that you’re being a Guinea pig. But otherwise, I will see you next time. Cheers.