There are 3 planes of motion through which our body moves: frontal, sagittal and transverse and these muscles work together to maintain alignment of the body in the frontal plane when on one leg, such as when walking, running, hiking through the mountains or simply standing there working on your balance. When the TFL isn’t functioning correctly and you’re standing on one leg, your pelvis might drop on the side opposite to the dysfunctional muscle (known as the Trendelenburg sign), your pelvis might shift laterally towards the stance leg, or the knee on the leg you’re standing on might cave in or rotate inwards.
Try incorporating these 5 stretches into your daily routine to maximize hip mobility.
1. The Brettzel Stretch
- Lay on your side and let your bottom hip extend so your leg moves backwards
- Flex the back knee and hold it with your top arm
- Take your top leg and flex the hip to 90°, pushing it down towards the ground with your bottom hand
- Hold here and feel some rotation in the thoracic spine, driving your top scapula down toward the ground and allowing the chest to open up
- Hold for several deep breaths before switching sides
2. 1-leg Side Bridge Support
- Come into either side bridge position, supporting yourself on one elbow and foot or side support position, pressing down with your hand and an extended arm
- Start to raise the top leg as high as you can – making sure not to swing it out in front or behind your body
- Maintain good posture in the upper body, keeping your shoulders back, chest out, and spine long as you hold for between 5-20 seconds
- Complete 2-5 reps before switching sides
3. Lateral Crossunder Lunge
- Come to standing at the midpoint of the long edge of a mat (you can skip this step but using the line of the mat can help you achieve proper form)
- Stand on your left leg and drive down into the ball of your foot
- Start to bend into your left knee as you take your right leg and cross it under and behind
- Use the mat as a guide of where to place your right foot as you come into the cross under lunge – you don’t want to step forward or backward, but rather to stay on the same plane
- Actively reach the right foot out to your side and lightly touch the edge of your foot down before returning to standing
- Complete 2-3 sets of 3-6 reps per side.
4. Hip adductor stretch
- Lie on your back.
- Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor.
- Gently spread your knees apart, stretching the muscles on the inside of your thighs.
- Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
5. Isometric Single-leg Wall Lean
- Standing parallel to a wall, flex the hip closest to the wall to 90 degrees, with the knee bent.
- Press the foot of the stance leg into the floor while driving the bent leg into the wall.
- The gluteus medius of the standing leg will fire to stabilize the pelvis.
By performing simple hip stretches and concentrating on the ABC’s of movement – Alignment, Breathing and Control, you can increase the strength and flexibility of the muscles in and around the hips. stretches like the frog stretch, will increase your range of motion, thereby maximizing your squat numbers.