Ahead of the interview with Sports Osteopath James Miles-Christiansen, this article will cover
1. The best stretch for tight hips
2. Upper back/ thoracic spine exercises. and
3. How to not be bored during mobility work.
The best stretch for ‘tight hips’
The hip flexors are one of the most common areas of tightness and dysfunction in both high-performance athletes and the general fitness population. Comprised of both superficial and deep layers of musculature—including the rectus femoris quadriceps, the iliacus and the psoas—this group of muscles, responsible for primary hip flexion, often becomes functionally shortened in static positions such as prolonged sitting.
Rear leg lunge stretch
Hip extension, knee flexion, ankle plantar flexion, essentially the opposite angles of the joints that come from sitting in a chair/seat.
Though it may seem really easy to set this up. Which it is, there are a few tips to maximise your stretch from the spent in this position.
When you’re in the above position. The closer your knee is from the wall, the more intense you will find the stretch, to intensify the stretch, which I recommend finding a level of discomfort that isn’t pain, if you tuck your pelvis by pulling your belly button in and squeezing the glute on the back leg, you will notice the intensity increase as the antagonists of the glutes and transverse abdominis etc contract and shorten, the agonists, psoas, rectus femoris and vastus intermedius relax and lengthen further.
Additionally, your tightness may be disguised as weakness. The real problem is likely that your hip flexors are weak, which is causing them to become stiff in an effort to create tension around the hip joint. They may not be very good at it, but they’re going to do their job and support that joint by whatever means necessary.
2 Exercises for your ‘tight’hips
Plank or Single Leg Plank
Upper back / Thoracic Mobility
It’s common theme flooding social media right now, mobilise your upper back, for many slumping over the desk will take it’s toll on our postures.
Generally we collapse into flexion through our upper back, most videos I’ve seen or blogs are teaching views to extend the thoracic spine to mobilise it, though this may be true, strengthening in extension and mobilising in rotation will have much greater benefits, both immediately and long term.
Purely extension-based mobilisations don’t necessarily fit with what we know about the bony architecture of this region of spine.
Thoracic vertebrae have a unique shape. They’re larger in the back than in the front. This creates a natural wedge that biases the entire region toward rounding forward and acts as a bony block to standing up straight.
Here are two brilliant exercises
The upper body windmill
The quadruped extension-rotation.
How to not be bored doing mobility.
Generally, mobility is really boring. It requires focus, attention and effort, however at low intensities, making it, for many harder to commit to.
Especially if you’re like me and enjoy hard intense exercise.
So other than building it into your day like my most recent blog.
There are two other methods, incorporating mobility into your warm up, or between exercises.
I personally prefer loaded exercises through a full range of motion.
Since starting Front Foot Elevated Split Squats and Jefferson Curls, my hip mobility and knee health have improved and are far better than they’ve been for many years.
This was after a serious damaged meniscus, where I opted out of surgery and chose to rehab myself, one point I believed I would never be able to sit in a deep squat again without discomfort.
Sure enough, the rehab worked and I would like to share with you these two exercises.
Deep front foot elevated split squat.
Mobilise during rest periods.
As I mentioned you can also perform mobility drills as active rest as they are low intensity and can fill your rest periods. I would suggest mobilising alternative joints to those you’re currently training.
Eg. if you’re doing a lower body plyometric circuit, you could mobilise your thoracic/ upper back during your rest period.
About the author
14 years experience in resistance training and programme design. Fds Sports Performance, BSc Sports Studies. Ex National Pole Vaulter (4.75m) injured frequently. Set up Sports Therapy businiss in 2013 working with Team GB Sprinters & Hurdlers. Now active as UKA sprints coach to elite athletes in Bristol U.K.