Posted October 25, 2012

Planks are the Magic Bullet for Hip Mobility

 

I was in Tulsa recently teaching a course to a bunch of awesome trainers at Sky Fitness a couple weekends ago. During the course,we were talking about core stability and the interplay with hip mobility. The main concepts I touched on were the Joint by Joint approach popularized by Gray Cook and Mike Boyle, and featured heavily in Advances in Functional Conditioning, as well as some of the concepts brought up by Janda and also some very introductory neuromuscular facilitation stuff. Fancy phrases, but they all mean the same thing: how the body experiences the environment.

The spine needs to have stability in order to move. If the core isn’t strong enough to do the job, it will change position and try to use something else to provide the stability it needs. This typically means the hip, hamstring and mid back become tense to try to give some stability to the area. Those chronically tight hip flexors? Yep, they attach to the spine, and if you’ve got a sloppy set of abs you’ll get your hip flexors trying to hold your spine together and they’ll stay tight as a drumskin for as long as they need to give up that stability.

Think of it this way. The spine with a sloppy core is like some loser who can’t get any attention from the ladies at the bar, and as a result, needs a wing man to close the deal. He’s got his collar popped, a thick layer of Axe Body Spray on, and freshly glossed lips, but still can’t get the job done on his own, so in order to seal the deal, he needs someone else at the wheel.

That’s really the great thing about the body, no matter what happens, it will always find a way. We’ve all seen someone who limps, hitches, sticks their butt out, has a flat back, or a forward head posture, and we think “oh that can’t be comfortable,” but they are all ways to reduce strain on some part of the body and get the individual to feel the least amount of pain and be the most efficient possible, even if it’s not ideal.

Compensations are just the most efficient, least painful way of getting the job done. – Tweet that

Now if we look at the hip specifically, we see no reason whatsoever that it should be restricted and less than mobile, at least from a structural perspective. It’s a very open ball and socket joint and can go through a huge range of motion before it gets to an actual end-range due to bony contact or capsular ending. The ease of motion is aided further by synovial fluid to reduce friction, thick cartillagenous lining, a strong but flexible labrum, and positioning on the side of the pelvis to allow the greatest range of motion through multiple planes of movement compared to if it were simply in a hinge formation like the knee or elbow.

It’s my humble opinion that everyone should be able to do the splits, or at least get really close to hitting the floor. This should not be exclusively the domain of gymnasts, dancers, or freaks of nature who can be all bendy and stuff and make people sick to their stomachs by watching their contortions. As mentioned earlier, the hip joint has a lot of motion available to it, which means it should be easy enough to get into the splits if the soft tissue isn’t holding tension for some other area of the body not having the stability necessary.

The splits is something that I’ve just recently been able to work towards, and it’s only really been something I’ve noticed since I’ve been able to get over 425 in the deadlift. In order to get there, I’ve had to work a lot on lumbar stability and core activation due to an old SI joint injury. To highlight the kind of limitation I have, look at the difference between my left leg going forward and my right (it was a right SI joint issue), and then compare the video of the splits above with my performance in a seated toe touch that would best be described as, well, cryptkeeper-like.

Now compare the seated version to a standing version, where the active and passive restraints are switched around:

The disparity between different movements all affecting the same joint is one reason why SI joint issues are so tough to nail down and train effectively, but essentially it can boil down to a simple concept: the joint is unstable, so other areas become tense to try to provide the stability needed to move without pain.

So what do you do if you have tight hips? Well, there’s a couple different types of “tight.” If I were to move your hip around through a simple passive assessment, you should have no restrictions in any direction because there sin’t any muscle tension holding it back, or at least there shouldn’t be any muscle tension. If you’re tight in only one or two specific directions, that shows that there may not be any specific structural limitation, but most likely a movement or stability restriction. If you have no restrictions to movement, yet always complain of being “tight or stiff,” you’re probably hypermobile and the muscles are working overtime to try to provide extra stability.

Let’s say you can perform a standard Thomas test, where you bring your knee to your chest and let the opposing leg hang down, checking to see what kind of available hip motion you have through the saggital plane.

If you can hold the knee to your chest and have the opposite knee touching the table, you’re good, dude.

Now comes the voodoo. Let’s say you can get your knee to your chest and have the opposite knee dangle loosely on the table, easy peasy, no problem-o. But maybe you have a serious restriction through rotation, specifically internal and external rotation? That would be a sign that something isn’t quite right.

internal rotation                               external rotation

The ability to rotate the hips is pretty important, letting you do everything from walking to hitting a good squat, to engaging in extra-curricular activities with people you find attractive. Here’s a great example to fantastic external rotation exhibited by Bruce Lee, and weak external rotation as exhibited by Kareem Abdul Jabbar from the movie “Game of Death.”

As going through a Thomas test is so decisive regarding the total mobility of the hip, there should be no reason why the hip should be limited through rotation, which means something is holding it back not related to the structure of the joint.

For those of you who have spent years stretching “tight” hips and had no real improvements, you’re chasing the wrong rabbit down the wrong hole.

If the muscle is actually tight, it should be able to become less tight by stretching, and those gains should be permanent if they are appropriate to the restriction. The muscles are hanging on to give stability to some other part of the body, probably the lumbar spine.

The muscles of the hip that resist internal rotation are primarily found on the lateral aspect of the hip. These muscles play a key role in providing lateral stability to the spine along with the obliques, psoas, serratus anterior and latissimus dorsi. This is where the side plank comes in. It can help to stimulate these muscles and force them to work together to help stabilize the spine in a position that doesn’t allow compensation, and therefore can re-set the hip and core to allow the hip to move properly. Throw a leg raise in there and you have some ultra-mega-power lateral stability.

The muscles that resist external rotation are primarily found on the medial and front of the hip, and have a high correlation to anterior core instability. This is where the front plank comes in. When done properly, the hip flexors are held in a stretched position while the rectus abdominis is working in conjunction with the obliques and glutes to provide the best pelvic and spinal stability possible.

A good front plank should make your glutes incredibly tired from forcibly making them contract so that your hip flexors stretch and the abs bite down harder.

As an example of these concepts during the workshop in Tusla, I had one volunteer who had a history of anterior abdominal issues (pregnancies that resulted in a still-present diastasis recti, or a separation of the two sides of the six-pack muscle) and tested her hips. She had full flexion through the Thomas test, had decent internal rotation, but had barely any external rotation. Normal means that holding the hip flexed to 90 degrees, the leg should be able to be brought across the body to be in line with the opposite hip, or 90 degrees external rotation. These are just rough numbers, but they tend to hold up well with a wide selection of people.

So she had really poor external rotation. Instead of giving her the littany of hip stretches that wouldn’t do anything to fix the problem, I had her do a front plank, getting really specific to make sure she was in a neutral spine, getting a hard glute contraction, and making sure she was taking full deep breaths. She held this for about 15 seconds, or 3 deep breaths, and then I re-tested her hips.

“Oh my GAAAAAAAAAHHD!!!!” I believe were the words out of her mouth when she now had full external rotation range of motion. Again, we didn’t do any “stretching,” but she improved her range of motion dramatically, so much so that in 15 seconds she saw more progress in her hip mobility than she’d seen in 10 plus years by working on different stretches and common kinesiological approaches to tightness versus stiffness.

This wasn’t a one-time thing. I’ve had dozens of clients get similar results, and done the same thing at different seminars I’ve taught. Here’s an example from a recent one:

Again, the hip SHOULD be mobile, and any limitation to the mobility typically comes down to a lack of stabilization through the core, and also from the foot hitting the ground in a wonky manner. By fixing the core specific to the limitation, the hip should loosen up immediately and make you all happy and gumby-like, as long as there isn’t a structural issue at play.

I know this goes against a lot of what is commonly taught out there relating to how tight muscles should be stretched, but that model hasn’t been working, otherwise we would be able to see complete resolution of issues by a few simple stretches. The proof is always in the pudding. If you do something with a specific goal in mind, what you are doing should be able to tangibly move you closer to achieving that goal, and if it doesn’t you’re barking up the wrong tree. Give this a try, and let me know if it works for you.

Resources mentioned: Advances in Functional Conditioning, Assessment and Treatment of Muscle Imbalance: The Janda Approach, Positional Release Techniques: 3rd Edition

  • Nuno Silva

    Spot on Dean, time to go back to the drawing board and reassess what works and what doesn’t as a lot of the stretches we tend to do might not be the solution to the problem as this article of yours fully demonstrates.

    • deansomerset

      Definitely. Thanks!

  • Nuno Silva

    Spot on Dean, time to go back to the drawing board and reassess what works and what doesn’t as a lot of the stretches we tend to do might not be the solution to the problem as this article of yours fully demonstrates.

    • deansomerset

      Definitely. Thanks!

  • fi

    Very good article, nice to know that I’m doing the right things when it comes to hip stiffness. Many thanks

    • deansomerset

      You’re more than welcome 🙂

  • fi

    Very good article, nice to know that I’m doing the right things when it comes to hip stiffness. Many thanks

    • deansomerset

      You’re more than welcome 🙂

  • I recently started really focusing on correcting my anterior pelvic tilt using front planks and glute bridges. Amazing how quickly the body figures out that it can now rely of what its supposed to rely on to get things done. Will be adding side planks now too.

    • deansomerset

      Glad to hear!!

  • I recently started really focusing on correcting my anterior pelvic tilt using front planks and glute bridges. Amazing how quickly the body figures out that it can now rely of what its supposed to rely on to get things done. Will be adding side planks now too.

    • deansomerset

      Glad to hear!!

  • Mark Nicol

    Fantastic artical…thank you. Presumably the same principles apply around the shoulder ie. greater scapular stabilization will improve internal/external rotation?

    • deansomerset

      Quite possibly, but there are typically other things involved with the shoulder like thoracic spine mobility and neck postural strains. The shoulder has way more going on than the hip.

  • Mark Nicol

    Fantastic artical…thank you. Presumably the same principles apply around the shoulder ie. greater scapular stabilization will improve internal/external rotation?

    • deansomerset

      Quite possibly, but there are typically other things involved with the shoulder like thoracic spine mobility and neck postural strains. The shoulder has way more going on than the hip.

  • Michelle Toy

    Yes! This is how I’ve been able to run again after years of piriformis and hip issues. Using the ChiRunning form has taught me to use my core to run – I relax everything else.

    I’m a former client of Dean and he started me on this path of recovery – I had a lot of hip problems when I first met him and never dreamed I’d be able to run again.

    • deansomerset

      Thanks Michelle!!

  • Michelle Toy

    Yes! This is how I’ve been able to run again after years of piriformis and hip issues. Using the ChiRunning form has taught me to use my core to run – I relax everything else.

    I’m a former client of Dean and he started me on this path of recovery – I had a lot of hip problems when I first met him and never dreamed I’d be able to run again.

    • deansomerset

      Thanks Michelle!!

  • Jose F.

    What if the internal rotation didn’t improve? What other things will you look for? Thanks!

    • deansomerset

      I would have gone back to the drawing board to follow a different pathway. If IR wasn’t noticable, it may have come down to a capsular restriction which might have meant manual therapy, or it could have been a joint related issue which caused the head of the femur to be rotated, which is rare and not something I could have done anything about.

  • Jose F.

    What if the internal rotation didn’t improve? What other things will you look for? Thanks!

    • deansomerset

      I would have gone back to the drawing board to follow a different pathway. If IR wasn’t noticable, it may have come down to a capsular restriction which might have meant manual therapy, or it could have been a joint related issue which caused the head of the femur to be rotated, which is rare and not something I could have done anything about.

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  • A

    I had a serious knee injury a year ago. And after reconstructive surgery I went to rehab, but we really didn’t do a whole lot of leg specific exercises, just the basics. My PT asked if I had any other issues in my body, stiffness etc. And told him about my unmobile hips and back (thanks to years of grappling and judo). He made me do a bunch of tests to test my stability and mobility. And then we began working on core stability&strength, which turned out to be my main defect. We did zero stretching whatsoever but still I gained a lot of mobility and strength. I’m still doing these exercises and almost no stretching but still gaining more core strength and greased like hips. Good stuff.

    • deansomerset

      Great to hear they took a holistic approach to the problem. There’s a lot of clinicians that will only work on one body part due to insurance constraints, even if the problem is coming from somewhere else. I had a client with really bad shoulders who kept going to physio, and it took a few minutes of re-training their feet and she hasn’t had an instance of shoulder pain in over 3 years.

      • A

        Yeah, I wish more would do like you and my PT did. My new found hip mobility has compensated for the stiffer knee when grappling. And for the first in ten years I’m free of back pain.

  • A

    I had a serious knee injury a year ago. And after reconstructive surgery I went to rehab, but we really didn’t do a whole lot of leg specific exercises, just the basics. My PT asked if I had any other issues in my body, stiffness etc. And told him about my unmobile hips and back (thanks to years of grappling and judo). He made me do a bunch of tests to test my stability and mobility. And then we began working on core stability&strength, which turned out to be my main defect. We did zero stretching whatsoever but still I gained a lot of mobility and strength. I’m still doing these exercises and almost no stretching but still gaining more core strength and greased like hips. Good stuff.

    • deansomerset

      Great to hear they took a holistic approach to the problem. There’s a lot of clinicians that will only work on one body part due to insurance constraints, even if the problem is coming from somewhere else. I had a client with really bad shoulders who kept going to physio, and it took a few minutes of re-training their feet and she hasn’t had an instance of shoulder pain in over 3 years.

      • A

        Yeah, I wish more would do like you and my PT did. My new found hip mobility has compensated for the stiffer knee when grappling. And for the first in ten years I’m free of back pain.

  • George

    Not much constructive to say but that was awesome! Where in the US are you based and do you have an email I could get hold of?

  • George

    Not much constructive to say but that was awesome! Where in the US are you based and do you have an email I could get hold of?

  • Mike

    This is Terrific! I have terrible external rotation issues on one my left hip. Just did a quick trial of your methods and already see improvement. At any point do these exercises become less necessary as mobility improves? How frequently do you recommend doing these exercises? Great article, and thank you!

    • deansomerset

      Glad to see. As the issue decreases, you don’t have to work on core stability to release the hips per se, but you would definitely want to keep it up to prevent a relapse. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  • Mike

    This is Terrific! I have terrible external rotation issues on one my left hip. Just did a quick trial of your methods and already see improvement. At any point do these exercises become less necessary as mobility improves? How frequently do you recommend doing these exercises? Great article, and thank you!

    • deansomerset

      Glad to see. As the issue decreases, you don’t have to work on core stability to release the hips per se, but you would definitely want to keep it up to prevent a relapse. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  • AD

    What if you can’t do the Thomas test? 🙁

    • deansomerset

      It may come down to more complex issues, like actually having a tight joint or poor mobility between the two hips. If that’s the case, there may be other things at play that would be limiting mobility. You might need some aggresive soft tissue work coupled with dynamic mobility exercises, and then finish up with some core stability training.

  • AD

    What if you can’t do the Thomas test? 🙁

    • deansomerset

      It may come down to more complex issues, like actually having a tight joint or poor mobility between the two hips. If that’s the case, there may be other things at play that would be limiting mobility. You might need some aggresive soft tissue work coupled with dynamic mobility exercises, and then finish up with some core stability training.

  • Matt

    Fantastic post sir. But like the last person asked, what if I can’t perform the Thomas Test? I can get my knee to my chest but my hip has to come up off the table slightly. Does this mean I just need to stretch? Or what?

  • Matt

    Fantastic post sir. But like the last person asked, what if I can’t perform the Thomas Test? I can get my knee to my chest but my hip has to come up off the table slightly. Does this mean I just need to stretch? Or what?

  • AJ

    Great post! I’m not sure I understand the difference though between your seated and standing toe touch videos. And if you have the ability to do the splits, then why is your toe touch so limited? (I too have “tight” hamstrings and am wondering if it is actually due to a core weakness as is suggested…)

    • deansomerset

      The major difference is the direction of pull and the effects of gravity, as well as the ability to move the SI joint during standing versus sitting. The limitation is direction-specific instead of simply being an issue with muscle tightness. It’s a tough concept for a lot of people to wrap their heads around, myself included. I struggled to figure this out for the better part of a decade.

      • AJ

        If I’m understanding correctly then, the SI joint is the limiting factor in pike position (particularly in seated toe touch)? If this is the case, which core stability exercise is recommended to improve toe touch with straight legs? Thank you!!

        • deansomerset

          In most situations, yes, you’re absolutely correct. However in my case, the joint has scarred severely, and it’s fairly immobile now. THe only reason I can do the splits is because I angle the front leg out about 10-15 degrees to reduce the rotation on the SI joint and allow the biceps femoris to reduce tension.

          • Would the more or less minimal SI-joint movement (1) account for this extensive loss of mobility. Have the possible lack of mobility of the sciatic nerve been considered?

            1: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2565116/

          • deansomerset

            Yes, the SI joint was the reason for the loss of mobility. Nerve conduction tests were all normal, so the nerve mobility wasn’t impacted as far as could be seen.

  • AJ

    Great post! I’m not sure I understand the difference though between your seated and standing toe touch videos. And if you have the ability to do the splits, then why is your toe touch so limited? (I too have “tight” hamstrings and am wondering if it is actually due to a core weakness as is suggested…)

    • deansomerset

      The major difference is the direction of pull and the effects of gravity, as well as the ability to move the SI joint during standing versus sitting. The limitation is direction-specific instead of simply being an issue with muscle tightness. It’s a tough concept for a lot of people to wrap their heads around, myself included. I struggled to figure this out for the better part of a decade.

      • AJ

        If I’m understanding correctly then, the SI joint is the limiting factor in pike position (particularly in seated toe touch)? If this is the case, which core stability exercise is recommended to improve toe touch with straight legs? Thank you!!

        • deansomerset

          In most situations, yes, you’re absolutely correct. However in my case, the joint has scarred severely, and it’s fairly immobile now. THe only reason I can do the splits is because I angle the front leg out about 10-15 degrees to reduce the rotation on the SI joint and allow the biceps femoris to reduce tension.

          • Would the more or less minimal SI-joint movement (1) account for this extensive loss of mobility. Have the possible lack of mobility of the sciatic nerve been considered?

            1: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2565116/

          • deansomerset

            Yes, the SI joint was the reason for the loss of mobility. Nerve conduction tests were all normal, so the nerve mobility wasn’t impacted as far as could be seen.

  • Thomas

    This one was absolutely enlightening! Thank you sir.

  • Thomas

    This one was absolutely enlightening! Thank you sir.

  • Laura

    Hi Dean, first time commenter but I really enjoy reading your blog!
    I have never had any hamstring troubles until this year and now for the past few months I have had a “tight” hamstring that is driving me crazy! I can touch my toes easily both standing and sitting (chest flat on legs, and can reach well past my toes) but any kind of single leg stretch (splits in particular) is very painful. I have gone from being able to sit flat on the floor in splits with my foot up on a height to barely being able get 15 cm from the ground. Only my right side is affected. Any ideas? Would this kind of core training be beneficial?

  • Laura

    Hi Dean, first time commenter but I really enjoy reading your blog!
    I have never had any hamstring troubles until this year and now for the past few months I have had a “tight” hamstring that is driving me crazy! I can touch my toes easily both standing and sitting (chest flat on legs, and can reach well past my toes) but any kind of single leg stretch (splits in particular) is very painful. I have gone from being able to sit flat on the floor in splits with my foot up on a height to barely being able get 15 cm from the ground. Only my right side is affected. Any ideas? Would this kind of core training be beneficial?

  • Great read Dean. Fantastic. Thank you.

  • Rob King

    Great read Dean. Fantastic. Thank you.

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  • KS

    Hi Dean, I have a lateral pelvic tilt issue with my right hip being higher. Stretching my adductors have not helped much. So I tried doing the left plank and I could see my pelvic levelling better. I think my left adductor has also relaxed a little. Will continue to work out my left side to make it stick. This post is great! Thanks!!

  • KS

    Hi Dean, I have a lateral pelvic tilt issue with my right hip being higher. Stretching my adductors have not helped much. So I tried doing the left plank and I could see my pelvic levelling better. I think my left adductor has also relaxed a little. Will continue to work out my left side to make it stick. This post is great! Thanks!!

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  • Rhi

    I needed this post!! I have been struggling to understand a current issue I’ve had on leg days. I have been searching for how to target my imbalance and improve my fitness and all I’ve come up with is stretches. Thank you, thank you, this is it!

    • deansomerset

      You’re welcome, and hope it works out for you.

  • Rhi

    I needed this post!! I have been struggling to understand a current issue I’ve had on leg days. I have been searching for how to target my imbalance and improve my fitness and all I’ve come up with is stretches. Thank you, thank you, this is it!

    • deansomerset

      You’re welcome, and hope it works out for you.

  • Really good article Dean! Good Job! ….yet again.

  • Really good article Dean! Good Job! ….yet again.

  • Andri

    I don’t hand out compliments easily, but that was an awesome post. It honestly changed my life. Thank you.

    • deansomerset

      The honour is mine for achieving such a great compliment. Thanks!!

    • deansomerset

      Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the kudos

  • Andri

    I don’t hand out compliments easily, but that was an awesome post. It honestly changed my life. Thank you.

    • deansomerset

      Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the kudos

  • Kyle

    Could this have implications for IT band issues, perhaps caused by quads/flexors being tight to compensate for lack of core strength?

    • deansomerset

      Quite possibly. The IT band tightens typically in response to a stressed stabilization system, either at the knee or the low back.

    • deansomerset

      Most likely. The IT band typically tightens in response to an over challenged stabilization system at either the knee or low back.

      • Kyle

        Thanks very much! Gonna become a planker now!

  • Kyle

    Could this have implications for IT band issues, perhaps caused by quads/flexors being tight to compensate for lack of core strength?

    • deansomerset

      Most likely. The IT band typically tightens in response to an over challenged stabilization system at either the knee or low back.

      • Kyle

        Thanks very much! Gonna become a planker now!

  • Svante Håkansson

    Front plank feels fine, and normal side plank also… HOWEVER as soon as I try to lift my leg I collapse on the floor. Is this normal or does it mean anything? I am an athletic and strong young male.

    • deansomerset

      It could mean the stabilization system for the leg and hip on the down side aren’t able to do the job on their own and need the help of the opposite leg (adductor and rectus) to help it out. It could be coming from a weakness in the hip or from the core on that side.

  • Svante Håkansson

    Front plank feels fine, and normal side plank also… HOWEVER as soon as I try to lift my leg I collapse on the floor. Is this normal or does it mean anything? I am an athletic and strong young male.

    • deansomerset

      It could mean the stabilization system for the leg and hip on the down side aren’t able to do the job on their own and need the help of the opposite leg (adductor and rectus) to help it out. It could be coming from a weakness in the hip or from the core on that side.

  • Donald

    Great site Dan. I can not bring either knee to my chest – I fail the Thomas Test, now what? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. After dong the side plank (even though I can’t lift my top leg off of the bottom) I feel some relief.

    • deansomerset

      It depends on why you can’t get the knee there. Is it painful, really stiff feeling, stuck, any history of osteoarthritis, joint injuries, herniations, nerve impingements through the legs or low back? Since you felt some relief from the side planks, I would assume you have a lot of inhibitory tension through the hips due to core reactivity issues.

  • Donald

    Great site Dan. I can not bring either knee to my chest – I fail the Thomas Test, now what? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. After dong the side plank (even though I can’t lift my top leg off of the bottom) I feel some relief.

    • deansomerset

      It depends on why you can’t get the knee there. Is it painful, really stiff feeling, stuck, any history of osteoarthritis, joint injuries, herniations, nerve impingements through the legs or low back? Since you felt some relief from the side planks, I would assume you have a lot of inhibitory tension through the hips due to core reactivity issues.

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  • Josh

    Would you consider it to be a bad idea to work on external rotation of the hip ONLY in hip extension/abduction? Seems as if training in this area wouldn’t train in a functional way. Would hip external rotation in a flexed position be a good idea to balance things out?

    • deansomerset

      I would say it’s never a good idea to limit training range of motion to just individual positions. Ideally, you want to look to what your body responds best to, work on that predominantly, and then also allow for additional movements as needed.

  • Josh

    Would you consider it to be a bad idea to work on external rotation of the hip ONLY in hip extension/abduction? Seems as if training in this area wouldn’t train in a functional way. Would hip external rotation in a flexed position be a good idea to balance things out?

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  • Gary

    I have snapping of the PSOAS in both hips which continues to do so despite an operation on both hips. Could this be corrected through use of the plank? I also have very little external rotation and knee pain

    • deansomerset

      Possibly, but with the limited information I have here it’s tough to say whether it would or not. Depending on the operations, the length of rehab, the quality of the tissues, the age of the person, their physical activity levels before hand, yadda yadda yadda, it could help or do nothing at all, but it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.

  • Gary

    I have snapping of the PSOAS in both hips which continues to do so despite an operation on both hips. Could this be corrected through use of the plank? I also have very little external rotation and knee pain

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  • Steve

    Great article Dean, however slightly confused now. Does this mean that active mobility exercises aren’t required, and I should instead focus on just core stability. Or should I be doing both?

    Many thanks,

    Steve

    • deansomerset

      They may not be as necessary as previously thought. Essentially, if you work on active mobility exercises, your active mobility should improve. If it does, great. If not, try something else. I would say the best approach is to use both means, not just one over the other, and see which gives the best benefit.

  • Bernardo

    Wasn’t internal rotation range of motion she just gained? In the text you say it’s external rotation. Great article, thanks!

    • deansomerset

      Good call. Fixing ASAP.

  • Vbells

    Hello,

    This is a great article – very enlightening!

    I have very tight hips and although I do a lot of core stability work I haven’t seen any improvements in that area. I am an aerial silks performer so I have a very strong core, but I have muscular imbalances do working more on one side that the other. I do the core stability exercises, as well as lumbar spine mobilisations, for an SI joint injury, which has improved a lot over the past few months. I have physotherapist for my SI joint problem but hip mobolity is not an area we have worked together on. I can do front splits on both sides, although I think this is due to having decent hamstrings! My side splits are terrible despite all my stretching efforts! I don’t feel that its the structure of the joint that’s limiting me, its just very tight.

    My question is, do you do online consultations at all to help people find out where the issues are?

    Thanks!
    V

    • deansomerset

      I do indeed, just head over to my coaching page and see what is offered.

  • Barb

    I’ve just started taking TRX classes taught by a Pilates instructor. Not “bootcampish”, there’s. lots of focus on alignment while performing variations on planking (some on side). I’m eager to see if those variations contribute to the effects you describe. Thanks for this!

  • Mary

    Hi, in the last video you asked the participator if she felt a pinch in the front leg’ hip. Why?
    I’m asking because I get it when I’m in lunges, and I can’t identify what it is, what causes it, and what am I doing wrong (alignment wise) or not doing (stretching or conditioning wise). Do you have an idea?

  • Douglas Pagani

    I’m curious as to what the actual biomechanics here are- just to clarify- so in the case of resistance for internal rotation, the ipso-lateral core (lats, etc) are resisting the action of internal rotation? Because THEY are weak, and compensating for themselves? I don’t think I have this right, so if you could provide the basic sequence of logic, I’d appreciate it.

  • I had a client text me just this morning about this exact thing. Although it was super-early, and I wasn’t exactly sure, it just made sense to give him this exact same advice based on the specific muscle-actions. I’m glad I follow you, and came across your expertise to back me up. It’s even MORE clear to me now, AND you provided me with some text to purchase. This post is totally on.

  • Marc Perry

    I know this is an older post, but I wanted to thank you for it. My left hip internal rotation was about 5%. I tried several stretches, hip distraction with bands, SMR etc., nothing worked. I was becoming pretty demoralized, thinking I would have to resort to something like dry needling. The side plank helped almost immediately, and the forward plank while keeping glutes tight (amazing cue) and lifting one leg at a time while keeping the knee extended is my new favorite activation exercise for making everything move better.

  • Richard Burnett

    Does this apply to the shoulder as well? Increased stability of the scapula leads to greater gleno-humeral internal and external rotation?

    • deansomerset

      I’ve tried a few things out on the shoulder and haven’t seen the immediate effects with it that I’ve seen with the hip. The closest I’ve come is some breathing reset drills to alter thoracic spine position and mobility that has a massive effect on the shoulder ROM, but it’s inconsistent.

  • Nic

    I liked the article. But I have a question regarding this whole mobility and stability concept. You would agree with me that babies have very very poor core stability (almost no abdominal strenght). Yet, they are hypermobile in all their hips motion. Since they have no core strenght, shouldnt their hips be stiff as hell? What do you think? Thank you

    • deansomerset

      That’s a good point, but it still kind of enforces the thought process. Babies have no idea about consequences or negative outcomes, so they have nothing to guard against at that moment. They also have very slow reflexes compared to an adult, so the guarding mechanism isn’t in place yet.

  • Vanessa

    This worked immediately on my chronic hip pain for over 3 years! Stretching, thigh exercises, and all that never worked. I randomly did planks for my core then immediately discovered that my hip pain was gone. Then I found this website, totally makes sense!

  • Ioseba Aloirra Zednánreh

    Great article Dean! I have been diagnosed with retroverted hips. Any advice on how should I tweak my form on both squats and conventional deadlift? I feel more comfortable pulling sumo but I would not like to stop pulling conventional altogether. Thanks a lot!!