Hip Mobility is about Rotation

Hip MOBILITY is about ROTATION. All the muscles that act on the hip create rotation. We move using rotation. When hip muscles get tight, the first thing lost is rotation. To improve hip mobility you must restore lost rotation.

Muscle fibers that contribute to rotation are diagonally oriented. Diagonal force is needed to affect diagonal fibers. Body weight exercises and free weights rely on the pull of gravity (straight down) which bypass tight diagonal muscle fiber. With the easy built-in application of Standing Firm® simply line the foot up with the corner and rotate the weighted plate.

The diagonal force angle is automatically lined up with the tight diagonal muscle fiber. Diagonal isometrics jump start tight muscle fiber restoring rotation to improve hip mobility. You’ll see immediate results.

Diagonal Isometric Force. Functional. Standing. Neutral Alignment. 

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Functional bodyweight exercises on Standing Firm not only strengthen with gravitational force but also rotational torque… involving the hip muscles to their fullest ability.

Improve mobility… restore rotation of the powerful hip muscles.

Turn on the Full Power of the Hips

Turning on the full power of the hips takes the full range of motion in the muscle…  including rotational range.

Range of motion is commonly defined as a linear or angular measurement. As such… the tools to measure range of motion resemble rulers. These measuring devices work well for measuring the extension/flexion of a hinge joint but fail to capture the essence of a rotational joint like the hip.

The design of the hip joint allows femur mobility in all planes of motion… front to back and side to side.  To evaluate whether full hip power is available for movement… check femur rotation in all hip positions.

The range of internal to external femur rotation in a specific hip position is called the Mobility Zone.

The Mobility Zone is active, full range of femur motion in … adduction, abduction, extension or flexion. Typically 45 degrees of rotation in each direction…internal rotation to external rotation.

This powerful rotational motion is either handled by hip muscles that provide opposing rotation …  or by the same muscle like the gluteus medius that has muscle fiber directions creating both internal and external rotation.

When a hip muscle gets tight it loses end-range of motion and dysfunction begins. The end-range of muscle involves rotation… winding up, winding down. The greater the wind-up, the greater the wind-down necessary for stability and injury-free power.

In sports like golf that require greater degrees of rotation…  accuracy is also on the line. Accurate movement requires full rotational range… the ability to load and unload in equal amounts. Active strength through entire range means precision and power in your golf swing.

Recruit the full Mobility Zone for each position with Standing Firm®… line up your foot in one corner and rotate past neutral to the opposite corner. This gives you forty-five degrees of resisted range of motion in both internal and external rotation.

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Pulse at end-range of motion to restore contractility of muscle fiber and condition it for greater rotation. The more muscle fiber that fires… the greater explosive potential in movement.

Quicker muscle response. Better muscle fiber recruitment. Greater muscle firing.

The most powerful force the body can generate is rotation. Train the hips with rotation… employ the full power of hip muscles.

 

Symmetry Improves Stability

hip-stabilityIt’s the great paradox in athletic training… in order to improve movement you must improve stability. Movement is really about stability.

Control. Stability…the state of being stable. Equal parts around an axis.

Just like a car that’s out of alignment, wear and tear on the body is accelerated when it’s out of balance. The only caveat is … it’s easy to fix a car that’s out of balance, the body on the other hand remains a mystery.. until now.

The rotational hip joint is designed for movement. For stable movement…  simply look to rotational equality….symmetry in hip joint rotation.

How do you measure stability? …understand mechanical design. The more equal the rotation of internal to external in a particular position… the more stable the position.

Introducing Symmetry Screens. Four hip positions that cover the four major muscle groups of the hip.

Using a weighted rotational plate, stability is measured by rotating the leg. Since four different muscle groups act on the hip…4 different positions are used to evaluate symmetry.

Symmetry in joint rotation means that specific hip muscles are balanced and able to stabilize movement in that plane of motion.

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Take the mystery out of stability training with Standing Firm®. Screen Rotational Symmetry. Address specific muscles.

Finally a numeric value to measure and compare…stability, injury risk, recovery.

 

Got Core Stability

The Rectus Abdominis aka.. the abs, is the most well-known muscle of the core. It’s the muscle that gets a lot of attention when training for core stability. But it’s the Rectus Femoris  .. a quadricep muscle and hip flexer that can make or break your ability to stabilize your core.

Before you do another plank or curl, consider this…. tight hip flexors pull the pelvis into an anterior tilt. When the pelvis is pulled out of neutral alignment… core stability in movement is compromised. A six-pack does you no good here.

An anterior pelvic tilt limits internal rotation of the leg and sets off a chain reaction of movement dysfunction and instability. Research confirms …when the foot strikes the ground, the ability to use ground force is altered, there is less ability to extend the leg back and compensation in stride length occurs… both in walking and in running.

Tight hip flexors that create force production problems also create core stability problems.

Fixing the pelvis so that the hips bones are level will get you out of an anterior pelvic tilt… this is a postural fault that many of us have because of all the sitting we do. The key to leveling the pelvis is unlocking the tight muscles to the front… thereby balancing the front to back musculature.

If you fix the pelvis …. level the hip bones… everything will start to work as designed. Core stability will be at it’s greatest potential. THIS SHOULD BE DONE BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE IN THE GYM….. it’s that important.

Screen the Hip Flexors.
Check to see if you have limited internal rotation ….position one leg in front of you… rotate only the leg…keep the hips still.

Rotate the whole leg toward your midline (middle of your body) and in the opposite direction away from midline (away from your body). Each direction should be about equal.

HINT:  45 degrees (corner to corner) in each direction is ideal.

Work the Problem.

Lack of internal rotation is common… the hip muscle responsible for internal rotation in hip flexion is the rectus femoris. Standing Firm uses resisted rotation to unlock the rectus femoris.

  1. Position the leg in front of your body…line your foot with the corner opposite the intended rotation. For example;  to load internal rotation… line foot with 45 degree external rotation corner. Rotate to neutral.
  2. Hold neutral (force is internal rotation) diagonal isometric.
  3. Feel the quadricep muscle engage, hold for 6 seconds, release and do it again, repeat for a 3rd set.
  4. Retest. Remove resistance and check to see if rotation is equal in each direction.

When you unlock the restriction of internal rotation, the leg will rotate like a hot knife through butter. The pelvis will level out… you will have more power and greater core stability.

Missing in Action

Torque Force MISSING ACTION

The most popular exercise of all time, hands down… the squat. But could your muscles be missing the torque action needed for a powerful squat. A Study confirms the glute muscle is divided into three parts… each part specializing in a particular action.

glute-powerThis fan shaped muscle creates amazing power with the muscle fiber direction following the curve of the hip bone. The muscle fiber angled back promotes external rotation (shown in purple) and the fiber toward the front promotes internal rotation (shown in green). A powerful squat needs both internal and external rotation.

It’s not obvious to know if you are missing muscle action. The fibers that contribute to internal and external rotation are in the same muscle… so if the internal rotation fibers are not contributing, the body will go around the missing action and use whatever muscle it can. This sounds like a great idea… problem is, it creates imbalances plus less than optimal performance.

So how do you know if you’re missing muscle action… fortunately the body will give you clues… muscle tightness is a clue! Stretching can bring the missing action back but sometimes it takes more than a simple stretch.

A bigger problem is neuromuscular tightness…. involving sensory issues and muscular issues. The reason for the tightness is twofold..the muscle fiber has lost the ability to:

1. detect muscle length (a sensory issue…neuro)                                                                 2. the muscle fiber is weak (a muscular issue…muscular).

The solution…. hit the muscle with both length and force. In other words; stretch the muscle fiber and apply a counterforce i.e., isometrics.

Locating the missing fiber action in the gluteus medius…

 

When pinpointing tight fiber in the glute med… the stance is shoulder width with rotation occurring at the hip. An equal amount of internal to external rotation is the goal.

A  45 degree “Mobility Zone” or corner to corner is perfect to get the job done… but if you fall short, symmetry in rotation is better than big but uneven range.

 

 

If you have a tight corner (external rotation)…. start in the opposite corner (internal rotation).

Shoulder width stance…rotate into a neutral hip position. A neutral position places a diagonal isometric force on the glute medius posterior fibers via the resistance band.

Work your way into rotation… past neutral. The glute med muscle fiber is lengthened with rotation. The length plus the isometric force improve fiber contractibility.

Your hips will open up and release tightness.

A rotational plate is often used with resistance bands to supply the diagonal force. Rotating further into internal or external rotation provides fiber length… addressing the sensory issues.

If you don’t have the equipment..simply understanding the process will help you set up the counterforce and subsequent rotational stretching. Retest your rotational range of motion… you’ll be amazed at the result.. active, balanced rotational strength. Your torque force is ready for action.

Rotation makes for stronger kettle bell swings

Rotation is in everything you do. … take kettle bell swings for instance. As you swing the weight between your legs, the gluteus maximus absorbs the weight by lengthening the muscle fibers and by rotating the femur, providing internal rotation (toward midline) to load the glutes eccentrically.

The action actually starts at the feet, with the kinetic chain… the arch flattens and the femur rotates toward midline, loading the diagonally-oriented muscle fiber in the glutes, located close to the tailbone.

logo-glute-maxAs the weight swings upward the chain “re girds” itself and moves from internal rotation to external rotation with the same powerful glute muscle.

At the top of the swing external rotation is provided by the glute fiber oriented higher on the hip. Shown in purple.

The interplay that creates internal and external rotation is commonly known as torque force.

Torque is the most powerful force the body can produce. But if the muscle fiber that provides rotation is tight, the body will adjust in order to load the weight. Tight muscle fiber doesn’t load with movement.

Tight muscle fiber not only limits range, but fiber tightness in a muscle can throw off form and lead to injury.

It’s important to have symmetry of internal to external rotation for movement loading and unloading to be safe and powerful.

Checking the ability of the femur to rotate properly through internal and external rotation is pretty simple. The mobility zone for rotation in the hip joint is approximately 45 degrees in each direction.

NOTE: The position of the body changes which hip muscles provide the rotation. For the gluteus maximus the hip position is the hinge or “good morning” position.

If you’re tight in one direction …. work it out with diagonal isometrics (shown using a rotation plate and resistance bands)…..rotate to a neutral hip.

Perform loaded hip hinges while maintaining a neutral hip.The diagonal isometric activates glute muscle fiber shown in purple.

Rotate further into external rotation (corner) to lengthen tight fiber and improve muscle fiber contractibility.

Rotational mobility will be restored and the power to load and lengthen muscle fiber in the gluteus maximus will improve your swing.

The Difference between Core Stability and Hip Stability

By Donna Snow

The pelvis is the center of stability in the body… a starting block for movement.

Core stability…is about holding your spine upright and controlling rotational motion of the pelvis.

Hip stability… is about moving your leg freely and driving off of a stable pelvis.

The abdominal muscles, namely the obliques work to resist motion of the pelvis. But the main reason you lose stability is not the fault of the abdominals… it’s the fault of the hips… weakness in glute muscle fiber alters the position of the pelvis and creates instability.

Weakness in the diagonal glute muscle fiber creates instability in movement.

The glute muscles fan across the surface of the pelvis creating stability for leg movement. Weakness in the glute muscles is common because of the fiber direction… think of a fan with all angles meeting at the same point. The dominant muscle fibers are closer to vertical. Gravity and most gym equipment favor vertical muscle fiber. The diagonal fibers in the glute muscle are often overlooked and underworked…. setting up an imbalance in the muscle.

An imbalance in the glute muscle fiber creates an uneven pull on the pelvis… in other words, instability.

Do you have glute muscle imbalances that create instability? It’s easy to check and see. A simple rotation test will identify weak/inhibited glute muscle. If there is tightness in one direction… the muscle fibers that produce that motion are inhibited and need addressed.

Muscle tightness is a sign of imbalance and creates instability… rotation identifies the problem.

Work in the mobility zone to strengthen across all the fibers of the glute musculature. The mobility zone is rotational motion that spans from approximately 45 degrees of internal rotation to 45 degrees of external rotation. Working corner to corner.

Each hip position has a mobility zone of internal and external rotation. Changing position of the hip changes which hip muscle you’re working. When your stance is shoulder width like a squat the glute med is activated… when you hinge forward at the hips like a deadlift the glute max is activated.

A balanced glute muscle has an equal amount of internal and external rotational motion.

Once you improve the mobility of the powerful hip muscles the transfer to strong, stable movement will be amazing.

The Ultimate Glute Machine

By Donna Snow

If you look around a typical gym it’s obvious that we’re good at developing strength. Power on the other hand remains elusive. Power requires more than strength.

Power involves strength plus speed.

In other words… strength needs to transfer to movement… forcefully and quickly. But don’t worry, you’ve got the equipment. The amazing ability of your glutes is the key to this very issue… perfectly designed to produce force and speed.

Let’s take a closer look at how the glutes make it possible to transfer strength into power. It all starts with the center of your body… the pelvis. Think of the pelvis as the starting blocks for a sprinter. The pelvis… like starting blocks… allow the glutes to produce force quickly by creating a stable starting point.

The pelvis gives you the ability to produce force quickly.

The glutes are muscles that fan across the surface of the pelvis creating a wide attachment of diagonal muscle fibers. The diagonal muscle fibers allow for the creation of torque. Torque force from the glutes plus stability from the pelvis transfers to powerful movement.

The glutes give you the ability to produce torque force.

Two exercises that are considered strength moves… the squat and the deadlift.. can also be power exercises when torque from the glutes is involved.

The Squat. Equipment and exercises for a squat favor strength development of the quads. Because of the dominant quad muscles…the diagonal glute fibers can shut down and become inhibited. When the diagonal fiber of the glute med is inhibited… you lose both stability and power.

Attention needs to be paid to strengthening of the diagonal fibers of the glute med. Strengthening diagonal muscle fiber requires a diagonal force. Working in the mobility zone with StandingFirm will activate the torque producing diagonal fibers.

The Deadlift. The deadlift gets torque from a different glute muscle. The gluteus maximus. The glut max works the same way as the glute med…. creating powerful torque with it’s diagonal fibers …. the difference is the glute max functions when the hips are in extension. Work in the mobility zone with the hip hinged to activate the diagonal fibers of the glute max.

Rotation in the mobility zone should be used every time you do these exercises…
1. as an activation exercise for the diagonal fibers of the glute med and glute max
2. as a maintenance exercise to keep the power engine of your body working properly.

When most equipment in the gym is linear it’s easy to forget that torque is what translates the strength gains into power gains on the field. Fortunately STANDINGFIRM® addresses the need for rotation with the glute muscles. Don’t leave rotational mobility out of your workout if you’re after both strength and power.

The Mobility Zone

By Donna Snow

Don’t do it. Trying to go deeper in a squat when you don’t have adequate hip mobility can really mess up your knees and/or low back.

The body will always find a way to move in the direction you are trying to go. The problem is not getting there… but how you get there.

Take for example lowering into a squat… if the hips are tight, the ball and socket joint can’t rotate properly… the next available place to find motion is at the knees. When you see the knees caving in… it could be due to the lack of rotational mobility of the hip muscles.

Compensation for lack of hip rotational mobility is easy to spot:

  • Do you widen your stance to get lower
  • Do you turn your feet out to get lower
  • Does the arch of your foot collapse when you lower into a squat
  • Does your back arch when you lower into your squat
  • Does your torso fall forward as you squat

These are tell tale signs of lack of rotation in the Mobility Zone. The Mobility Zone is the 45 degrees of internal and 45 degrees of external rotation that your leg should be able to produce. Think of it as “working the corners”… getting the full range of motion from the hip joint.

The Mobility Zone is 45 degrees of internal rotation and 45 degrees of external rotation.

The common mistake made in gyms is thinking that lack of external rotation is the problem. The real problem could be the opposite…  lack of internal rotation. The tightness that you feel in your hips is actually the muscle going into “protection mode” because of weakness in internal rotation.

Strengthening the inhibited muscle fiber that creates internal rotation requires spiral diagonal motion. It’s a little tricky to set up in open chain, but give it a try… angle your leg diagonally and rotate the leg inward (pigeon-toed)… now follow that path of diagonal motion with a resistance band.

spiral diagonal muscle activation

Loading resistance from the bottom-up with a rotational plate works the hip muscles in a much easier and simpler way.  Quickly place the resistance on the plate and rotate from the hip. Spiral diagonal resistance is built in as you step on the plate and rotate 45 degrees.

new-load-torque

Once the strength of the diagonally-oriented muscle fiber that creates internal rotation is restored.. the entire glute muscle will work as designed… providing full motion in both external and internal rotation.

Ground-based rotational resistance will get the full spectrum of the glute muscle activated and hip joint working properly for all the functional exercises you do in the gym.

Mobility Training No Longer a Speciality Market

Mobility Standing FirmBy Donna Snow

Mobility training is the new kid on the block… once the domain of Physical Therapists … mobility is going mainstream with help of the fitness industry.

Mobility back in the day was considered something older folk needed… certainly not something that fit people lacked. Fast forward to today’s Cross-fit boxes (gyms) and the impact they’ve had on facilities around the country. The high intensity workouts with Olympic-style elements create a natural entry for mobility work. Cross-fit and the influence of charismatic teachers like Kelly Starrett have popularized mobility… going beyond the old notions of stretching and even flexibility.

Mobility training today brings immediate results we can feel and see. Different than the traditional stretching of the past, mobility training is about activating inhibited muscle so we can move into deep squat positions and maintain perfect alignment. It’s active and sexy where stretching was well….. boring.

So how does mobility work fit in with your workout?
The new mobility exercises are cool in their own way… because the range you achieve is also creating active strength. Functional mobility is really a new range of strength… in other words, bigger, better, stronger movement.

Working mobility with function activates all the muscles that have “turned off” during the day…. from sitting at a desk to the drive from work… engaging the deep muscle needed to perform deep squats and heavy deadlifts with rock-solid stability and maximum torque.

Best practices in functional mobility…
Functional Movement Screens designed by Gray Cook have become the standard in identifying mobility problems. Performing basic movement patterns, the screens identify missing range of motion. The lack of range relates to specific muscles that need addressed with mobility work. 

Fusionetics is another system that looks at your biomechanics (how your body moves) and puts together the ideal program for getting back to and/or staying in peak condition. Dr. Mike Clark is responsible for this program popular with pro athletes.

The mobility work that Starrett espouses uses resistance (self-applied or with bands) against a lengthened muscle. This technique utilizes eccentric force to build greater mobility …. something research has deemed to be more effective than stretching alone.

STANDINGFIRM® pairs mobility work together with functional exercises. Hip Screens identify tight muscle fiber in the glutes, hamstrings, adductors and hip flexors. Using resistance bands and a weighted rotational plate, the system lengthens tight muscles in the hip while you perform functional exercises to improve hip mobility.

The future of mobility training looks good.

Mobility training is not a fad… in fact, look for it to be a major player on the fitness scene. The good news is the industry is getting smarter and functional fitness just got a new best friend.