By Ashley Maheris
Think of all of the muscles, tissues and ligaments in your legs as intricate cords and wires to a powerful machine. Every strained wire or twisted cord further stresses the passage of information contributing to the machines efficiency.
What does this mean?
Tightness in your ankles or achilles can be the reason for your knee pain. Restricted calves can limit the flexion of your ankle, which could leave you with sore chins and hamstrings after a run. A tight IT band (which runs from your outer hip to outer knee) could limit your range of motion in your stride and often causes internal rotation (inward collapse) of your knees.
So how do we prevent, or heal these issues? Stretching.
My favorite muscles to stretch are my hip flexors (the area where your pelvis meets the your femur). These hips are powerful players, they contribute to the strength of your lower abs and they are the antagonist muscles to the biggest movers in your body- your glutes. Loose, flexible hips lets you squat deeper and more efficiently, jump higher and stride longer. Take care of these hip capsules by relieving them with stretches everyday.
Hip Mobility and Stretching Routine:
Start with a few minute warm up to get the muscles loose and more susceptible to stretching.
- I use a thick band and hook the end around a stationary object (like a pole) and I kneel with one leg inside of the band. I pull the band up near the top part of my thigh and turn so that my hip is parallel to the pole. I move away from the pole as far as I can, letting the band tug on my leg, pulling from the inside of my thigh. I then actively push my hip forward (almost lunging), stretching the hip and holding it at the maximum point of extension for about 15-20 seconds. I slowly release this stretch, while still hooked in the band and relax for about 10 seconds.
This “contraction-relaxation” simulation opens up the socket by temporarily dislocating the hip capsule. Additionally, the resistance of the band allows me to really create some space between the ball-and-socket joint and restore some of that free mobility or “slack” in the muscle. (This is key for those of you that have desk jobs as those hip flexors can really shorten up from sitting all day!)
- Then I use a baseball, or lacrosse ball and I lie on top of it (face down) positioning the ball in my hip socket. You can experiment with the amount of weight you want to put on the ball but the more you give, the better you will feel after. This can sometimes feel painful at first. Roll in small circles, mimicking a deep tissue massage. I would spend at least 2 minutes here, and then switch to the other hip.
Finish with some deep breaths and a pat on the back. You're doing your hips - and every muscle that is connected to them - a big favor!
Mobility WOD" where he teaches folks how to "perform basics maintenance" on themselves through a daily video. Read more about Ashley...