Posts Tagged ‘hip flexor’

What ended up being the start of my best week of training ended with the medial glute revisiting me, locking down.

Tuesday’s workout on the track was 2x1000m @ 2:30 pace, followed by 2 rounds of 5oom, 300m, 200m all @ 62s pace then finished off with 1x1000m @ 2:30 again. Finally 4x200m @ 27-28.

I went 2:24′s(through the 800m) for the 1000′s and 60s pace for the breakdowns. I felt like I was jogging! I got through 2 of the last 200m’s @ 27. and shut it down. Even though my fitness is showing well, the hip just wouldn’t loosen up.

To make matters worse, in an effort to get it to release a bit (by engaging the glutes) I tweaked the vastus intermedius on my warm up set of 2×10 squats! Damn it! Paul at Penninsula Rolfing squeezed me in and got the hip to loosen up a lot. Thank you Paul! It was enough that I was able to at least get on the track for some strides on Friday.

So what the hell is going on? When looking at the athlete’s injury, every good physiologist/therapist will take an integrated approach. Kelly and Paul are a case in point. One trip to Kelly Starrett pin-pointed the overall problem: over-extension. Just standing in place it was apparent my hips were being pulled out. We see it with athletes doing push press overhead or in a kettlebell swing where the thoracic-lumbar junction hinges in high torque situations. Another high torque situtation would be running at top end speed. The combination of my workouts as well as standing for long periods of time adds up. Having a strong core certainly helps prevent over-extension but only so much. In my case, the hips were so tight that no amount of core strength is going to keep them in a neutral position.

Over the next couple days I’m told to hit the hips hard and especially utilize this Mobility WOD episode. Running hard is one thing, stretching hard is another.

Never Let It Rest,

Every time I go out for a run, pick up a barbell, stretch, eat, sleep, etc., I have an agenda. My agenda is to become faster and stronger. Specifically, it’s to run 3:55 in the mile. So when I put on my shoes and hit the trail for my long run, I’m focused on a specific task. For my long runs, I’m focused on an intensity level of about 75% (just below tempo effort) for a period of 90minutes or more. Some days that looks like 5:50/mile pace, others it looks like 7:50/mile pace. The key is adjusting the intensity according to how I’m feeling for that day within the above parameters. When finished, I should feel relaxed and comfortably tired.

Before my long runs (within 1hr before), I like to do a 5×3 max effort back squat or deadlift. This gives me two different domains for the day. A fast/explosive work coupled with long moderate intensity. I believe the strength/endurance gains are absolutely unmatched and I also feel recovered quicker than when I don’t perform something heavy.

For a better part of the week I’ve been dealing with a stomach bug Joss brought home from day-care (an easy scape-goat guess), so today’s LR was going to err on the light and easy side. I managed about 10 miles averaging just below 7min pace. Actually at around 45min, I was still feeling like dirt and decided it might be better to head in. At that moment I made a conscience decision to feel “light and relaxed”. Before long, my pace quickened and another 25min was tacked on the clock. Feeling like I could have done more, I erred on the side of caution and shut it down.

Ideally, I would head back to the gym after a LR and perform 100KB swings in addition to the CrossFit Endurance prescribed recovery movements (3×10 of squats, GHD’s, situps, pushups) all in an effort to regain range of motion (ROM). Hip flexor stretches (deep lunge position with my back foot on a box, outside arm reaching as high as possible), hamstring/quad stretches are also a part of the regime. In my mind, inarguably the greatest detriment to running form I see is loss of ROM caused by tight hip flexors/psoas. Not only does this pitch the athlete forward (breaking at the hips), it causes the runner to land at the top of the foot (rather than midfoot), putting greater strain on the plantar and achilles. In other cases the athlete will just stick his foot out in front of him to “catch” himself, thus the heel strike. Both scenarios are bad and lead to many of the common runner injuries.

See why your back is hurting??


Much of what we do in the gym is trying to reclaim loss of ROM. Sitting or being in a fixed position for long periods of time (cars, desks and running) destroys hip function over time if not properly addressed. As we know now, hip function is crucial for the endurance athlete.

See you in the gym,

PS. If you scroll through some of my earlier posts, I talk about stretches and exercises to help open up the hips.

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.

Stretch #1:
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
squeeze hard.
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.

Stretch #2:
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.

Application: 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