Functionally the hip has certain positions that create stability and power. We should be looking at accessing its full range to ensure the health of the joint.
Healthy joints make difficult movements easier
Just like the shoulder, the hip has an important role in allowing us to function in various positions. It’s also a ball and socket joint, with both joints acting as catalysts for power, stability and accuracy of its connecting limb.
Unlike the shoulder as you may already know, the hip is held within a deeper socket, but still has a multitude of muscles surrounding the joint, including its own rotator cuff. The hip also has a ligamentous capsule with fibres angling in different directions. Using the capsule the joint can wind up into some very strong and stable positions. Accessing these ranges of tension puts the joint into a safe place to absorb load.
These high torque shapes held by the hip are our start and finish points of most movements of the lower limb. Most of the time we can function well within the realms of the inner movement. But if we struggle to start from these positions it becomes difficult to transition and finish in a safe end shape. The goal should be to have full physiological capacity.
In the hip, there are 3 shapes we should all be able to achieve.
- The first movement is the squat/hinge a combination of flexion and external rotation at the hip. This movement takes all the glory, it’s all of our squat movements, it’s dead lifting, it’s rowing and the list goes on.
- Next is the Lunge/run which is full extension of the hip with internal rotation. This could be the bottom of a split Jerk, in running it would be your trailing leg before leaving the ground.
- Pistol is the last movement which alludes a lot of people (including myself), requiring full hip flexion but also full ankle dorsiflexion.
While the squat/hinge position is the most common hip shape used. We should also feel competent at the other 2 positions. Over the next few weeks I’ll go through the 3 movements and provide some ideas to achieve full depths.
The final part to the 4 shoulder positions that give us stability. The press position is used in so many ways, failing to find a good press shape can produce poor results and pose a risk to injury.
This is the final part of the 4 shoulder shapes we should all be able to achieve. Creating these shapes provides more efficient transitions when under load, making it easier and posing less risk to the shoulder.
So we’ve opened up the over head, front rack and hang shape. The last position is a press. Think of so many positions, bench press, rowing, burpee, chest to bar pull up, muscle up, ring dip….. If we create a poor, unstable position from this point it will make the movement much more difficult.
2013 Open workout descriptions with Julie Foucher
With the press we need to achieve full shoulder extension without the elbows flaring. Rarely do we get full extension in the shoulder. Even when sat at a desk typing were put in a perfect opportunity to hold the press position, but we get too flexed through the spine and the keyboard is placed to far away.
The other movement is internal rotation, which was part of our hang position. Good internal rotation at the shoulder will stop the elbows from flaring.
The last part being the lack of mobility of our lower cervical and upper thoracic spine. Which when stiff takes us into a rounded shoulder position. Trying to mobilise this area will help improve shoulder and head position.
Below are a series of mobility exercises to help with these directions.
Barbell hold – With the bar racked up to shoulder level and secure in the rack. Reach back with both hands, hold onto the bar and gentle lean forwards till you feel a stretch in the front of the chest and shoulders. Hold for 2 minutes. Gradually work your hands closer together.
Peanut lower cervical – This one you’ll have to get hold of a peanut (two lacrosse balls stuck together). Place the peanut at the base of the neck. Lift the hips to the ceiling. Some gentle rocking or arm movements through flexion or behind the back will help mobilise this point. 2 minutes
Lats smash with LaX ball – Take the ball under the arm pit into the meaty portion at the back, which is your lats. Roll into the lats with the arm in over head position lying on your side. 2 minutes.
Band hold – The other alternative to the bar hold is a band hold. Same position but hold the band behind you. Hold the stretch for 2 minutes.