I wanted to touch on something we’re seeing frequently at the gym, and I get regular questions about this – getting the hips moving better. Most of us realize that we have some sort of hip mobility limitation, and that this affects our squatting, deadlifting, etc., in the gym. We realize this, and know (or hopefully we know) that we need to get at our hip external rotation more (“knees out”).


Pigeon pose

So we hit the bands, do a version of the pigeon pose, or a squat sit, and try to work on that external rotation. Maybe it makes a world of difference, but maybe we feel like we’re hitting a wall, too, mobility/movement wise, and aren’t seeing too much change.

But let’s remember, the hip joint and its capsule are 3-dimensional. When we do a particular mob, such as a version of hip flexion and external rotation (i.e. pigeon position), we’re placing force on and emphasizing about one-half of the capsule – the posterior and inferior portions. We can’t forget the other half – the anterior/superior portions,  – which when we mobilize these parts of the capsule, we’re putting the hip into extension and internal rotation.

Intuitively, this seems like it doesn’t make sense. Because we know that squatting well involves expressing good hip flexion and external rotation. But, in order to have full range of motion  in a particular direction (i.e. hip external rotation), we need to have full motion of the joint as a whole. Meaning, if I lack internal rotation due to a tight capsule, soft tissue stiffness, or some other cause, it can actually limit my external rotation. So, check out this K-Starr video on getting better hip IR and extension, try these, and then go re-test your squat. See what happens.

Train Hard, Train Smart, and Have Fun!

~Paul Erwin, DPT, Hershey Spine and Orthopedic Rehabilitation


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