I’m all about staying healthy, and if i have learned anything over my 20 year running career it’s that staying healthy does require some self- maintenance. When I was running professionally, I often got weekly massages because running 100+ miles a week takes it’s toll. Even when I would feel good, the therapist would find things I didn’t know were brewing. Any athlete or avid exerciser knows how important consistency is, and missing time off for an injury is just frustrating.
There are so many great hip openers out there, but I wanted to share one of my favorites. It is my go- to exercise when I feel like my alignment is a little off, or my back or hips are feeling achy or just not as mobile as I know they should. It’s as close to WD40 you can get for your hips. The purpose of this exercise to get a gentle hip capsule stretch while you are pushing towards your feet, then a gentle gluteal and pirformis stretch as you pull your knee to opposite shoulder. To do this, take up the tissue slack and then breath out as you press down towards your feet. The movement is small- like maybe 1/2 inch. The breathing is really important, so make sure you first do this in a quiet place so you can concentrate. Remember, you are always breathing out on the mobilization or stretch part.
Aside from working the hip capsule, this is a very gently and effective psoas Muscle stretch. The Psoas muscle is one of the body’s main hip flexor muscles, or trunk flexor if your feet are stable. Since it inserts on the T12-L5 vertebrae, if can cause back pain if tight or in spasm. A tight psoas muscle also effects posture and alignment, so it’s one to stay on top of if you do a lot of hip flexing (runners, I’m talking to you.) Manual work is great for this muscle, but if that’s not an option, this will help.
The knee drop (second part of the video) is great for stretching your smaller external hip rotators that can effect your hip and sacral alignment. Again, let your leg fall in GENTLY to the center with gravity stretching it. Breath in as you come back up, and then repeat on the other side. Go back and forth 6x each leg.
As always, there should be no pain with any of this, so stop if you feel any. Though they feel great, 1-2 x times a day is plenty. Again, I will stress, be GENTLE. Don’t over do it or you will have a sore back and hips.
Happy running…or what ever form of exercise you choose!
Blake Russell, PT
Single-leg dynamic stability is important, as is core stability. This exercise challenges both and is great for almost any sport. Add it to your routine as a warm-up or routine. I am using a 10 pound medicine ball, but it’s best to start light and stay light as the focus of this drill is quality of movement; not strength. Balance is something I work on quite a bit to keep my feet intrinsic muscles and hips strong for the pounding of running. Keep your routine fun and add these rainbow passes to your gym routine. Enjoy!