It is the most important joint that we have to generate power throughout our body. The Hip or the hip girdle area is a very anatomically complex with over that are associated with the area. All of these muscles work together to gain mobility and transfer power from the hip to the extremities. The more elastic or mobility you can create within the hip, the greater force production you can generate as you produce power. The power in your hips could be easily restricted if there were a group or one of those muscles did not have the elasticity needed in order to take the hip into a complete range of motion to generate maximum amount of force.
Being able to pre-load the hips is crucial if you want to be explosive as an athlete in all planes of motion. In my years of training youth athletes, I have seen so many athletes demonstrate the inability to hinge at the hip correctly which leads to other areas to produce power or, in some cases, it will not be created at all. Being able to gain the hip mobility in order to hinge is important to all athletes that need to generate power. Also, having enough strength to aid in joint stability, especially in the lumbar area of back will help lead to the ability to display that force quickly through the body. The hip hinge is a movement that all athletes need to learn and master. There are drills that will help increase the mobility of the hip and there are other drills that will help teach you to hinge properly at the hip. If you need to help with taking strength and applying it quickly to generate power you can add these exercises and drills in your training regimen: Olympic lifts, Romanian DeadLift, Good Mornings, medicine ball ball throws, sprinting, jumping, hitting and throwing.
Mobility = tissue length + neural muscular control/stability + joint structure. One big goal as a youth Athlete Performance Coach is to not only teach my athletes about their bodies but also to help them improve their mobility in all areas of the body to prevent injury. Having increased mobility is an aid to gaining the strength needed to generate power and assist with their recovery. Many athletes lack the flexibility in their gluteus and hamstrings in order for them to correctly squat, lunge and hinge at the hip. With the lack of mobility their stress will transfer into other areas such as the lumbar spine. This could be one of the reasons why we have youth athletes that suffer from lower back pain and injuries, not limited to the hip or lumbar spine areas.
If you were asking yourself, when should I add in flexibility training in my workout, practices and competition. It’s simple: everyday and all day. In order to gain mobility you need to train your muscles to be mobile as much as possible because of the amounts of stress that you are applying to them on a daily basis. Do not limit the different types of mobility drills that you can apply to your flexibility training everyday. Unlike strength training, you are not going to over train your body by doing simple mobility drills throughout the day.
Pre-activity – focus on having an acute-corrective strategy to your flexibility training. That means to focus on the areas that may be limited in range of motion or may be compensated due to an injury. Also focus on more stretches that are more dynamic or ballistic in nature and stay away from a static stretch or limit your static stretches to under 8-10 seconds each. What you want to promote pre-activity is optimal length/tension relationships and develop active flexibility.
Post-activity – your focus is more centered on recovery and tissue regeneration. Adding in myofascial tissue release into your cool down will help aid in tissue regeneration and recovery. Once you have completed your myofascial tissue release set then the ability to statically stretch your muscles will be more affective in gaining the necessary range of motion to aid in developing power and help decrease recovery time. One routine that you can add into your day is to have a static stretching protocol just before you get in bed. This not only will this help you unwind and relax, but it also helps you maintain any flexibility gains that you have worked on throughout the day.
Article by: Coach Derrick Campbell, USATF-L1