I’ve been out of commish for the past 2 days after my hip flexors completely locked up on me while I was out on a 9.5 mile interval run. I started the day with a modified “Fran”, subbing pushups for pullups. A few hours later I did my run, a hilly mostly single track trail through the Redwood hills of Woodside….and Fook me my hips locked up so damn bad I had to walk the last 3 miles. So the last 3 miles pretty much took me as long as my entire run…that bah-lows.
The cause was obvious. I had been in a moving truck for 3 days straight coupled by 3 days of sitting in the car, driving through the city, looking for places to live. By the time I did my modified “Fran” my flexibility and range of motion (ROM) was completely gone. Doing my WOD in conjunction with the run overstrained my hips big time.
The fix is not coming easy. I”ve seen my chiropractor twice due to an imbalance in my pelvis and leg length discrepency (caused by loss of flexibility and tightening of the low back). Sitting in a car not only destroys hip flexion it also annihilates hamstring function. Sitting for long periods of time will weaken your hamstrings. My problem was more of a loss of ROM. In searching for some help with this, I stumbled upon a great article by Jeff Martone. Jeff is owner of Tactical Athlete Training System, Inc and has extensive knowledge and training with kettlebells. I used some of his suggestions below for “opening up my hips” again and restablishing my range of motion.
Here are two great stretches that will help unlock the full
power of your hips. Tight hip flexors are reaching epic
proportions in twenty-first-century America. All the time
people spend sitting causes neural shortening of the hip
flexors, which in turn causes us to short stroke our swing.
The end result is loss of power. This drill will help you find
and get rid of these power leakages.
This drill will dramatically increase your ROM (range of
motion) and power output. The total time invested is less
than a minute. So, get ready to release the “parking brake”
and unleash the power.
1. Lie on your back, with your feet flat and heels close
to your glutes.
2. Place a small medicine ball between your knees and
3. Perform a shoulder bridge. Slowly raise your hips
toward the ceiling, keeping your shoulders and head
on the floor. Hold for five seconds, and then relax as
you return to the starting position.
4. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Here is a more powerful variation of the previous stretch
and my personal favorite. However, if you have acute lower
back problems or are obese, you may want to stick with the
previous stretch. This type of stretch will yield better gains
in less time. Perform steps 1 through 3 as you did in Stretch
#1. This time, add a 5- to 10- second isometric hold at the
top position. More specifically:
1. When your hips reach the limit of your ROM, place
the fingers of each hand on the front part of your
hip bones. Keep your arms tight against your body
and apply downward pressure by driving your elbows
towards the ground. Maintain that position and be
sure to maximally contract all the muscles of your
lower body (i.e. glutes, quads, hamstrings, etc.) for 5
to 10 seconds.
2. Release your fingers off your hips and exhale (out
your mouth), while continuing maximal glute
contraction. Executed properly, your hips should float
to a new ROM. The harder you hold the isometric
contraction, the greater the ROM gain will be when
you release the hold.
3. Repeat this drill 3 to 5 times.
4. Immediately stand up. You should notice an immediate
change in your posture when standing. You will feel
taller as your posture returns to its original vertical
5. Proceed to the deadlift.
Deadlift the kettlebell for 5 reps, actively engaging your hip
flexors. Now proceed to the Russian swing.
Application: Russian swing
Perform a set of 8 to 10 Russian swings. Start with very low
swings and gradually build up the height with every rep. You
should feel an immediate sense of freedom of movement
and power from your hips. If you do not feel more power
from your hips, then repeat the above sequence then practice
a few standing vertical jumps. This should yield noteworthy