Stop the Banded Hip Stretch
Written by: Coach Slater
This banded hip stretch is doing you more harm than good.
Read this statement in your best late-night infomercial voice… “Do you experience pain or discomfort at the front of your hip, most often on the right side? Do you try to stretch it with bands and weird positions? Does it always feel tight and sore? Well, we have the answer for you!”
I’m here to say that you should stop doing those stretches, as you might be suffering from looseness/laxity in the anterior hip capsule (front-side) that has allowed the head of the femur to move forward in the acetabulum (hip socket). You might feel tightness/tone in your hip flexors, but stretching them only worsens a problem that actually needs to be solved by getting your pelvis into a more neutral position. So, instead of using bands and weird positions to stretch the front of your hip, I’d suggest that you add the following exercises as part of your pre-warmup, every time you visit the gym, which will help restore optimal pelvic/hip position.
First, we want to activate your left hamstring and left adductor (inside of your leg) to bring your left pelvis back to its optimal position with an exercise called “90-90 Left Hemibridge with Left Hip Shift”. Yea, yea, yea… the title is ridic. I know, but bear with me.
It just so happens that Parabolic Performance created a video on this recently, so it’ll help you visualize as I try to explain everything below.
Here’s how you do it:
1. Lie on your back with your feet flat on a wall and your knees and hips bent at a 90° angle. Place a foam roller between your knees, and gently squeeze it with the insides of your legs.
2. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth while pressing your heels down toward the floor (you should feel your hamstrings engage), and your tailbone will lift up slightly off the floor. Keep your back flat on the floor.
3. Keep light pressure on the foam roller between your knees by squeezing your left leg into your right, relaxing the inner thigh muscles on your right leg.
4. While making sure not to contract the right side of your abs, pull/shift your left knee down lower than the right knee, while using your butt to push your right knee higher. Your hips should be shifting at this point, twisting separately of your upper body.
5. Maintain your hip lift with your left leg on the wall and straighten your right leg.
6. Continue your breathing for three breaths, then slowly lower back to the mat and repeat.
Second, we want to activate your right glute to bring your right pelvis back to its optimal position with an exercise called “Left Side-Lying Right Glute Max”.
Again, Parabolic Performance recently created a video showing an example of this movement. Watch it and check out my explanation below:
To perform this move:
1. Lie on your left side with your hips and knees bent at a 90 degree angle, and with your hips and shoulders stacked on top of each other.
2. Place a foam roller underneath your feet, and a light mini-band around your knees.
3. When placing your feet flat on the wall, be sure to keep pressure on the arch of your right foot.
4. Gently slide your right leg forward without letting your trunk rotate forward or right ab tighten.
5. Using your right glute, pull your right knee away from your left knee, while continuing to slide the right leg forward. Perform 10-15 repetitions.
6. Bring your right knee back to its original position, rest, then repeat for more three more sets.
If I can convince you that these two exercises are better than that band stretch you were doing, maybe I can convince you to do these exercises twice a day, too. Or, at the very least, do them whenever you step into the gym. If you stick with it for 30 days, you’ll see significant changes to your squat pattern; and if you stick with it for 60 days, you’ll see dramatic changes to how you perform at everything else in the gym.
I’m going to come back with a second part to this article explaining how you can change simple, everyday tasks to improve your movement patterns, and thus completely skip over everything you just read… but, you wouldn’t do that, would ya?