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.
This 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.