Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums General Problems with figure 4 stretch – anyone else having similar issues?

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    • #70667

      Hey everyone!

      Kelly posted a video a while back for the “cube slaves”. He suggested that every time we stand up and come back to sit down, we do 1 of a few different stretches. One was a sitting glute stretch. Another props our leg up on the desk. And yet another was the basic seated figure 4 stretch – where you simply put one foot on top of the opposite thigh and while bracing and keeping both butt cheeks on the chair, you push the knee of the propped leg down to at least parallel.

      Here’s my issue – I can always get down to parallel, but I always have to start with my knee really high – almost 45 degrees from parallel. You would think that over time (months of mobility), as I make permanent change, my starting position would move lower and lower. But this isn’t the case.

      What’s odd is that this is the only area that I don’t seem to make improvements. I’ve worked on medial chain, posterior chain, and ankle mobility with great success. So I know I’m doing something right, at least in those area’s. It’s just funny that this one area is being really stubborn.  Any similar experiences and specific techniques that may have helped for you?

    • #73554
      AvatarNathan Richer

      have you worked on hip openers, and leg external and internal rotation exercises?  I believe the figure 4 exercise requires external rotation of that leg. if you are missing external rotation, then it will always be tight and difficult.  i also think that it is possible that your femur may not be in the right position in the hip socket when you sit.  it may drift forward and be out of socket which would make external rotation more difficult.  i just tried sitting and then the figure 4 exercise both with unadjusted sitting, and then i tried it again with my pelvis slightly moved forward, in an attempt to move the femur heads further back into the hip sockets.  this seemed to make the figure 4 a bit easier.

    • #73555

      I definitely have, but I’m always open for suggestions. What are your favorite hip opener exercises?

      I addressed the sitting issue you mentioned and got a little more room from it, but not a whole lot. It also sped up the time it took to get to parallel, so that’s a huge shift in the right direction.

    • #73557
      AvatarNathan Richer
      these are my favorites – certainly there are others in BSL but i find that i just put the band on, then get down on the ground and can move quickly through these 3 – in BSL:

      page 303 Single Leg Flexion with ER Bias with band distraction
      page 315 Hip Capsule External Rotation Option 1 and 2 with band distraction
      page 317 Hip Capsule Internal Rotation with band distraction
      i sometimes work the hip flexors – usually i like driving a YogaTuneUp Alpha ball or Supernova into them while lying on the ground.  Rarely do i do the Banded Hip Extension page 329.  I think my bigger issue is that i need to move the femur back into the socket versus having a forward bias. however if you’re down on the ground with a band, it’s easy to rotate your body to do it.
      it is also possible that tight adductors are preventing the leg from dropping down.  so smash them:
      page 340 Adductor Smash but with Supernova or YogaTuneUp Alpha ball – i find that the foam roller doesn’t work nearly as well.
      what feels tight on you when you try to put the leg on your other thigh?  anything else? those would be also targets for smashing and mob work.
    • #73558

      If you sit alot at work it is something that you will always need to be working on.
      The situation that causes it to be tight is constantly present so it may be an area that will always need work.
      Same as an athlete of a certain sport that certain things they always hit because it could always be a little better based on the sport. Hit glutes,& IT band, short hip rotators, TFL as well.
      Daily Rx 12/22
      Daily Rx 12/24
      Episode 138: Banded Squat Mobilizer and A Mid-Line Reminder
      Episode 280: Mobility Is About Position. “Stretch” With Purpose, Not to Warm Up
      Episode 234: Improve Your Proximal Hip Mobility and Nerve Tunnels
      Episode 238: Hip Opening
      Episode 241: Sumo and Medial Chain Business
      Episode 245: Unglue Your Hips and Thighs
      Episode 249: Improving Hip Extension (And Internal Rotation) for Running
      Episode 246: Retooling Old Favorite Mobs
      Episode 260: Positional Inhibition and Hip External Rotation

    • #73559

      Yup, all the one’s you’ve mention cover about 80% of my mobility work. The other 20% is on the shoulder, back, calves, and ankle.

      Which brings me to your last question David – and Kaitlin, maybe you can weigh in:

      When I prop my foot up, the things that feels the tightest is actually on the outside of my lower leg, below the knee. Seems really odd to be feeling tight there, but anything is possible in a system of systems eh?

      Any thoughts?

    • #73560
      AvatarNathan Richer

      sounds like it could be peroneals or anterior tibalis. do you smash those? 

      smash whatever is tight – then retest with your event of choice – sitting at a computer with your leg up haha.
    • #73561

      Yeah apparently I don’t smash them enough…:(

      Peroneals are a new muscle group that I haven’t heard of before. You learn something new everyday! Thanks for the info!

    • #73562

      You may need to do it 2-3 times a day for awhile.
      Sounds like you are going too long between sessions.
      You need the stimulus for the changes in position more often especially in the beginning.
      Just as with breaking any habit it can take time and constant reminding to start.

    • #73566

      Thanks Kaitlin, I think you’re right on.

      My issue is that I’m coming from about 15 years of a pure sedentary lifestyle. I’m beginning to be active now with strength training and sports. Luckily I found all of the mobilitywod material to guide me. As a result, my body ends up screaming at me in so many different area’s for mobility work.

      I know you’ve said many times in the past to stick with only a few mobility drills per day, but I’ve found that not only do I need to do more than that (as a result of so many inactive years combined with a huge increase in activity in the present) but like you said, I need to do some of those multiple times a day.

      Essentially my body is asking for more mobility work than it can handle or “conform” to. Quality over quantity and patience seems to be the best bet I suppose.

      Thanks for the feedback guys! I’ll keep working on the issue and focus on cutting down the number of drills I do per day and increase the frequency of those drills each day until I see permanent change before moving onto to new drills.


    • #73572

      You need to work on the areas that will have the biggest impact first.
      Spine, hips & shoulders.
      3 mobs per day per Kelly’s recommendation in a few different episodes.
      Need to keep it simple too many different things during a session overloads the system.
      Move past that you were inactive for years. You have acknowledged it now move past it so you are caught up in that fact alone.
      You will see more lasting improvements spending quality time with more shorter session throughout the day.

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