Today we’re going to be talking about unjamming sticky hips at home.
Probably once or twice a week, I have someone ask me about their hips. Usually what’ll happen, someone will come in, they go, “Doc, I slipped on a rock. I jammed my leg. I slipped off a step. My knee got extended and my heel hit the ground really hard and it jammed my hip up into my pelvis.”
It’s very, very common. Usually after these kind of things, people complain about a lot of hip tension. Sometimes they’ll talk about groin pain. Sometimes it feels like an adductor pull. So, I’m going to show you a very, very simple exercise that you can do to help improve that. Also, if you have a lot of hip tension in squatting, lunging, etc., there are some anatomical factors that come into play, I’m going to do a blog series on that eventually, based off the shape of your, what’s called acetabulum, the angle of your femoral neck.
But for now, let’s just assume that you have stickiness in one these hips, you either have pain or you have difficulty in squatting. So, my first recommendation would be to, first of all, test the issue that you have. So, if squatting’s your issue, go ahead and squat. Notice which leg seems to be more problematic. If you already know that you have an issue on one side, test a couple of movements that are potentially difficult for you, either they feel really tight, they feel restricted or painful, and we will use those movements to reassess the result of the exercise.
Now, the exercise is really simple. I will tell you that you are going to need a fairly large Jump Stretch band or some kind of other loop band. That’s what usually makes this most successful. Now, I’m using actually a lighter band just for demo purposes. If I was doing this with a bigger athlete or someone my size, I probably would go up one more level in the band width just to give some additional traction.
With that said, if you only have small bands available, you can use two, you can use three. So, there’s lot of different ways to increase the amount of force that you’re using and the traction. If you’re new to this, I want you to use a low level of intensity anyway to make sure you respond well to it. So, please be careful. It is your hip.
Now, essential things. Number one, we need to make sure we’re anchoring in the right spot. So, you want to set up a fairly low anchor in the beginning. On this one, I’m maybe eight or nine inches off the floor. You can go a little bit higher. You’ll see as we work through the movement that sometimes you might want to readjust it.
But you want to make sure it’s nice and secured because you’re going to be using a lot of your body weight. It needs to be secured to something that’s not going to move or fall on you as well. Please take note of that. I only say things that have happened, so just be aware.
Now, next thing we have to think about is, “All right, if I’m going to use this band to traction my own leg without anyone helping me, how I attach it to my leg is really important.” Here’s the easy way to do it. Number one, I recommend that you do this with shoes on. These bands tend to grip shoes better than they grip bare feet. If you do it without shoes or socks on, your skin my pay the price. So, I actually recommend putting shoes on.
Now, the way that I normally teach people to do this, you take the band, you place it behind your heel. So, literally, here’s the loop. Put your heel inside the loop. Then grab the band, cross it over in front of your ankle so you’re making an X, and then sit back a little bit. So, we have a basic loop around the ankle. It’s crossed in front of the foot. So, it’s actually very well secured.
Now, once I’m in this position, the first thing that you’re going to do is you’re going to stretch the band out, try to relax the hip, and you’re going to lay down. You’re just going to lay here and focus on your breathing and focus on trying to let the musculature around the hip relax. Now, usually what I’ll do with our clients, because we do all this crazy neuro stuff, is I will have them do either elbow or opposing shoulder circles.
There is some neuro connection between the right hip and left shoulder, so some basic shoulder work, what we call camshafts, anything to relax the opposing shoulder can sometimes help relax this hip.
You want to stay here for 30 seconds to a minute, really trying to let this relax. Once you’ve done that, and again I’m putting my head down because I actually want you to just lay here and let the band traction to hip. Now, once you have some relaxation, I want you to start just working on allowing some space into the hip as you rotate it in and out.
Notice that I’m grabbing around what’s called the greater trochanter. It’s the big bone that you can feel on the outside of the hip. If you grab around that, that gives you a guide to where you’re supposed to feel the movement and also where you want to feel some relaxation occurring. Now, one thing that you can do is try to relax the ankle as well. It takes a little bit more coordination to relax the hip while pulling the toes up, so if that’s not working for you, try to relax the whole foot and just let the band hold onto you.
So, we’re going to begin this position, 30 seconds to a minute. Once you feel it’s relaxed and you’ve also done your internal-external rotations, maybe five or 10 reps of that, we’re now going to go to position two. For position two, we’re going to take this opposite leg, we’re going to step across. So, we’re now in this new position. We’re sitting up a little bit. We’ve come across the body with the opposite leg. So, we’ve got some, basically what we consider internal rotation happening in the hip that has the band on it.
So, this is where you have to be careful. If this is uncomfortable for you, you can just skip over this version of the exercise. But once I’m here, again, I like to actually sit up a little bit. As I sit up a little bit, you’ll feel more traction occurring, maybe through your lower abdomen, also the hip and pelvis on that side.
You can spend a little time here. Again, you can add internal-external rotations at the hip. That greater trochanter’s going to be against the ground. So, you will now get some feedback from the ground on whether you’re moving there. So, again, just try to relax it. As you relax, you should feel a little bit more traction. So, 30 seconds to a minute.
Now, we’re going to position three. For position three, we’re simply going to rotate into this position. So, now, it’s almost like we’re trying to crawl, but we have one leg caught behind us. So, here, all that we really need to do is lean away and let the band increase its traction in the hip itself. I usually in this position will also do some ongoing internal-external rotation. Sometimes I will hold the position that feels tightest and use some additional traction there.
Typically, what I find by now is that the hip is relaxed enough that you have to go a little further to continue to feel traction in that hip. Now, I also usually will have people just slide the opposite side of the pelvis around to increase some of the additional traction. Once that’s done, you can carefully come out of it, point your toes, release the band, and then you can retest the hip.
This will typically take you, again, 30 seconds per position to one minute, maybe a minute and a half, depending how tight you are. But generally what we see, a minute and a half to three, four, five minutes spent with this traction can literally fix issues that you’ve had forever. So, it is absolutely worth taking the time to experiment with the positions, figure out which motions work best for you. The easiest way to know that is to, after you’ve finished, reassess what the initial problem was.
So, that’s the basics. If you have any questions about this, let us know.
Otherwise, good luck and I hope your hips love it.