Training Series: Hip Mobility

Welcome back to our training series and more specifically the mobility portion of our training series. Last week we discussed ankle mobility and provided some techniques that we use here at ChiroFitt to help improve ankle mobility. From the ankle, we are going to move up to the hip this week. Our hip joint is and needs to be one of the most mobile joints in our body. Hence the reason for it being a ball and socket that can move in just about any direction necessary.

Good hip mobility is vital to walking, running, bending, jumping, and climbing and any activities that involve rotatory movement, especially sports such as golf, tennis, baseball, softball, and lacrosse. It is not to say that we cannot perform the noted activities with less than good hip mobility, however without good hip mobility, we will certainly displace more stress to other areas of our body (particularly our lower back and knees) as a result of compensation, which can lead to overuse of these areas and injuries. For example, poor hip mobility often results in the need to compensate for the loss of mobility at the hip by increasing strain to our lower back. The lower back is known to be more of an area of stability, hence the “core”. Therefore, if we have to create more mobility at the lower back as a result of compensating for poor hip mobility, we alter the function of the lower back and give up some stability, which can result in poor “core” function and ultimately lower back pain and injury.

This principle is very important to me as a chiropractor who deals with a significant number of patients with lower back pain. As often lower back pain is the outcome of poor hip mobility, where the lower back falls victim to the hip. Without correcting the underlying hip mobility issue, lower back pain can continue to persist. This is why we often incorporate and recommend training as a portion of our therapy plans for our patients.

As we discussed previously, we screen for hip mobility with our training clients through multiple screens of the Functional Movement Screen, however the primary screen we use for hip mobility is the Active Straight Leg Raise. To review this screen, check out our previous Active Straight Leg Raise blog post.

If it is determined that hip mobility is a priority of our training program as determined through our client assessment, including the Functional Movement Screen, and offered as part of our No Stress Fitness Strategy Session, here are some of our favorite techniques to help improve and maintain hip mobility:

Just as we did with the ankle, we will start improving hip mobility with focus on the soft tissue around the hip joint through foam rolling and stick work, as shown below:

Foam Rolling Hip Flexor

Foam Rolling Quads

Foam Rolling Hip Abductors

Foam Rolling ITB

Foam Rolling Piriformis

Foam Rolling Glutes

Stick Rolling Hamstrings

Once we have our soft tissue work completed, we will follow that up with stretching exercises to help improve flexibility and lengthening of the muscles around the hip joint:

Half Kneel Hip Flexor Stretch w/ Dowel

Static Hamstring Stretch

Spiderman Stretch

90/90 Stretch

Once we have rolled and stretched the hips to improve flexibility of the muscles around the hip joint, the next step would be to do mobilization-based exercises to help with joint mobility of the hip:

Active Straight Leg Raise w/ Core Activation

Leg Lower w/ Assist

Windshield Wipers

Hip Drops

After introducing some mobility to the hip joint through the above exercises, the next step would be to do some stabilization-based exercises for the hip joint. We can do this by performing some static positioning while performing upper body exercises that can challenge hip stabilization through upper body movements or we can use lower body movement around the hip joint to create stabilization, which we show below:

Double Leg Bridge

Marching Bridges

Deadbug w/ Sandbag


Pull Thru w/ Sandbag

Half Kneel Single Arm Cable Row

Half Kneel Cable Chop

2 Kettlebell Single Leg Deadlift

As shown above when we are introducing stability into a joint, we will begin from the ground and work our way up (with starting points being more specific to the client that we are working with, so that we can challenge our clients more appropriately). In addition, many may look at the row or chop exercise and feel that these are upper body exercises, however, let’s not forget that to move the upper body in these half kneeling positions we need stability from our lower body, which begins at the hip. A true form of functional based training.

Once we regain stability, we can then target strength and power-based exercises for the hip. Some of the strength and power-based exercises for the hip will overlap with the exercises (squat and lunge) that we discussed for strength and power last week with ankle mobility as the ankle and hip are closely related and the muscles around these joints are both required to produce strength and power through these movements. To review the strength and power exercises for the ankle that also influence the hip, please visit the ankle mobility blog from last week.

In addition to the squat and lunge for strengthening the hips, the deadlift and its variations is also another great exercise(s) to help with strengthening around the hip joint.

Kettlebell Deadlift

Sprinter Stance Sandbag Deadlift

Once we have established strength in the hip joint, we are ready to move onto power-based exercises for the hips. Power-based exercises for the hips include kettlebell swings and cleans as shown below:

Kettlebell Swings

Sandbag Clean

So, you can now see how we have come full circle from regaining hip mobility through stretching and mobilization to maintaining those changes through improved stability, and finally getting to functional strength and power exercises that require good hip mobility to be accomplished without compensation and a potential increased risk of injury. In seeing this example, some key points here are that deadlifting is not bad and should not be entirely avoided, however in order to limit our ability to injury with this exercise we want to meet the minimum functional requirements of our body to achieve this movements safely and effectively allowing our body to receive the maximum benefit of the exercise with minimal risk of injury. Typical compensation that leads to injury with the deadlift is poor hip mobility, which often results in compensation that includes increasing mobility of our lower back, displacing increased strain which can result in low back injury. Therefore, it’s not the exercise of a deadlift that is bad but rather how we complete the deadlift if we do not have the minimal requirements to accomplish the movement safely and effectively. This is why we screen our clients prior to training to verify for these potential limitations, which we will work to correct prior to having them complete exercises that may increase their risk of injury.

We hope that this discussion and the videos presented helped to provide you with some insight into how we train here at ChiroFitt. Our programs are designed specific to you and your needs, helping you to reach your goals in the safest and most effective ways possible. If this sounds like something that you would be interested in learning more about, our No Stress Fitness Strategy Session makes this simple for you to do. Who’s ready to live a longer, heathier, more vibrant, and active life? We are ready to show you how to make that happen. Next week will move from hip mobility into shoulder and mid back mobility. In the meantime, if you want to get a jump start on shoulder mobility, check out our previous blog post on the Shoulder Mobility Test, which discusses some of the importance of good shoulder mobility.

Till Next Time…

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