Monday, October 8, 2012

The Hips Pay the Price for Sitting

The seated society really takes on a battle everyday with gravity. Those that are chained to desks with their blackberry's and excess 15 pounds of body fat know what I mean. Every day millions of office workers punch-in and sit in front of their computers answering tons of emails that mean absolutely nothing. They get up and walk over to the water cooler and lavatory a few times; but the majority of their day is looking at a dusty computer screen at a huge office desk.

With many of these clients, I seem to always see the same types of muscles that are tight and lack neural stimulation. The hip complex is one area that really takes a hit and is always a challenge for the fitness professional to rectify in people who are trying to be more active. In my experience, I typically see male clients coming in with very tight hips. Females generally are not as tight in the hips--particularly the adductors--but they do present some tightness in the hip flexors. Males, for the most part, seem to demonstrate the most tightness in the adductors, sartorius, pectineus, tensor fasciae latae (TFL), and the psoas.

My fascination with the hip complex has always stem from overcoming my own lack of mobility in the hip region. Having trained clientele in different environments, including corporate America, I was able to witness first hand how a sedentary career and work life impact the quality of one's life. Personally, once I understood how important getting my hips more mobile was key to increasing my athleticism, strength, and power; I was sure to emphasize movement in this area. My personal infatuation was later depicted in my famous video Free the Hips:

My approach to mobilizing the hips has grown since the creation of Free the Hips. Much of this has to do with the bulk of my clientèle being male golfers. Most of the golfers I see tend to be desk sitters that are confined to a chair all day and then decide to meet a friend for 18 holes. Its like a potato sack will get to where you want to go...but it won't be pretty. And that is what most of the male golfers come to see me for: they simply have a ugly golf swing. As a performance enhancement specialist, I tend to always look at hip activity during movement--even though the client is always adamant about my eyes focusing up on their back-swing and strike. After my preliminary questions that tell me what I had already assumed:

QUESTION: "How long do you sit for?"
ANSWER: "All day".

QUESTION: "How often do you get up and walk around?"
ANSWER: "Not often."

QUESTION: "Do you ever stretch?"
ANSWER: "Nope".

So why is it that golfers always want to get outside and hit some golf balls when they have inhibited hip rotation  as well as poor tissue quality? To summarize, they don't value training as a necessary tool to help elevate their performance. With the hip complex in its condition, every move they make tends to look like this:

Recently, I came up with a new drill that can help many golfers increase their hip rotation. It is titled as an anti-rotation drill; but investigating further I couldn't help but see how this drill also helps the hips rotate. And if I can get some rotation in these hips that never see any, I have already gotten them on the right path.

To execute, simply attach a band to a  fixed object and wrap one end around your upper back. Be sure to take a few steps out to the side to create some tension. The more tension you feel,  the more "whip" on the return. With a deep breath and core set tight, begin to rotate towards the affixed band (wherever you have attached it). Maintain control as you return to the starting position. If you lose the control and get sloppy,  stop the exercise. As you perform, pay attention to the hips. In the video, you can see my hips are actually mildly tight. There is no "separation" from the pelvis. The goal is to get some degrees of rotation from each hip independent from the pelvic cage. This can be achieved with smaller movements (with this drill). Get your clients to work their way up to increasing hip rotation at the same time keeping a stable core. This ensures that we integrate the core, we work on rotation, and we emphasize hip movement without performing anything that may seem intimidating to a client.


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