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Tagged: hipflexion, psoas, rectus_femoris, squat, tfl
So I’ve been working on my hips for nearly 6 months now according to Mwod methods and have noticed very little change. Most of the change I noticed came more recently (past 2-3) months when I’ve been working on correcting movements. For example: my hip extension improved drastically when I spent more time focusing on glute activation, and I got very significant results in hamstring length by learning to involve my quads. My question is about hip flexion- I stop at 90 degrees. 3 Main hip flexors (correct me if I’m wrong) are TFL, rectus femoris, and psoas, psoas being responsible for most hip flexion greater than 90 degrees. So if my brain is sensing instability due to a weak/stiff psoas it would make sense that my RF and TFL feel overworked and tight all the time (which they do) and that it may also compensate for hip instability with tight hamstrings and restricted glutes. Should I just work on psoas activation and strengthening for a while and see what that yields?
I read in another post that to help with hip flexion we should always work on being able to create external rotation, but my glutes shut down when I pass parallel in a squat because my pelvis dumps back… so external rotation can hardly be a factor there because I can’t achieve good position.
As a coach I need some clarification on identifying a weak psoas, as it seems to be a largely misunderstood piece in the general population…
I would try some resetting of the femur head into the back of the hip socket. if your femur head is biased forward in the socket, then you will be restricted in hip flexion as the femur rotates up it will run up against the top of the socket.
I would look at both of these ways.
the first is to get on the floor and do Hip Capsule External Rotation. use a band to distract the hip to the side or rear. then as you lay towards the ground, try to drive the femur head out the back of your butt. do this for 2 min on each side. retest hip flexion – standing i assume?
the second is standing, and let a band distract a hip towards the back. then bend over the banded leg and do hamstring flossing while letting the band drag the femur head to the rear. retest hip flexion after doing this.
as for psoas, there could be many symptoms of a tight/weak psoas. one is if you are in a extended low back constantly. the psoas could be dragging your low back forward as you try to stand straight up. glute inhibition could be another. limited hip extension could be yet another.
treating the psoas is probably best done by gut smashing with a big ball like supernova, and couch stretch.
Thanks for the response!
And I’ve worked on ALL of that consistently for the past 3 months, and in times of desperation even spending 10-15 minutes per leg going through distractions at different angles, I’ve limited my time sitting as much as possible, dramatically changed my posture… I’ve improved hamstring range, hip external rotation, and hip extension pretty substantially, however if I go after hip flexion or adduction with any Mwod techniques I notice no change no matter the duration or intensity I mobilize with. When I go into standing hip flexion and reach 90 degrees it almost feels like my hip flexor muscles are just in the way- like they’re too tight to continue pulling my leg up (or too weak). When I spend time sitting they get so tight that it almost hurts to try and flex past 90 with no assistance and the couch stretch becomes an immediate necessity. I’ve also had 2 chiropractors and 1 PT all do 2-3 minutes psoas releases and we still can’t get results out of either leg. My internal rotation is 0 as well and my feet turn out when I squat. I’ve been able to mitigate that through improving external rotation to some degree, however being unable to claim any more adduction or flexion is about to drive me insane! We’ve got several guys at our box with similar issues. Any other ideas?? Or should we just keep at it?
I just got back from seeing Roop and I feel for you.
He told me my iliacus and psoas were way tight and my femur head was poorly positioned for certain angles of flexion. Roop checked a bunch of angles and flexion/internal rotation at hip was terrible. The MWOD things he did to me were:
1. Psoas release with fingers, but i get to do it with KB handle – likely Supernova is too big for me. Can do KB on lacrosse ball, then i can press in with knee up, then while pressing extend leg down.
2. Iliacus release – wow painful with his fingers jammed in there! This one will probably require me laying on a KB handle for likely 10-20 min.
Then he did some Roop magic. Basically he would pick an angle, then put his weight on my knee to push the femur head to the rear of the socket and then move it around. Definitely a lot of painful places where pinching was happening, but he managed to work it nearly good except for maybe the extreme range of IR and flexion. i would not recommend trying this. you could really mess something up. he also tested my labrum and there was definitely irritation there which could have been worse if someone who wasn’t Roop tried this. Did your chiro or PT do this? i have never seen this before. i’m guessing not.
my home prescription is:
smash psoas, iliacus, glutes, TFL (yes my flexor wad is tight too). need to work on psoas and iliacus a lot more.
set femur head to back of socket, but move body over the knee so that you’re like in pigeon pose, bending body over the knee to the outside. only keep lower leg not rotated externally but either straight or slightly IR. this is similar to mob called Hip Capsule External Rotation in BSL. distract with band if possible. sorry hard to describe this one.
he then showed me a variant of shinbox. i sit down with feet about squatting width, knees bent 90 deg. then let one knee drop to the outside, while keeping heel in the same place. try to get as low as possible. then move the knee to the inside while maintaining foot location but try to touch the knee to opposite leg. repeat with other leg. hard as hell for me!
variant on above – do this while squatting which i think i saw in a Daily MWOD once. get in deep squat position. move one knee to touch the other knee or leg if possible.
another practice only with bodyweight – squat down but do it trying to bring the knees together in the center. this practices IR in squatting. never to be used with weight, but just an expression of accessible body position – which i don’t have! ugh!
Got it- and no one has tried those things on me. Some minor success over the weekend: I ended up spending about 20 minutes working IR distraction angles on my left hip and actually drastically improved left hip IR and cleared a lot of the impingement feeling, it just took way longer than I thought it would. I think I’ll run with focusing on IR and smashing hip flexor/iliacus along with couch stretch. Thanks for the help! I’d give my left eye to get out to SFCF and be around Roop, Kstar, and Paoli for a month… This region needs their insight so badly…
Thanks again, and let me know if you make any progress!
this video may be of interest to you:
note that many problems are related to core stability, and its precursor to proper stability which is proper diaphragmatic breathing. i would study those as well as working on soft tissue.
but also related to what you and i are working on, are the 21st century problems like overactive anterior chain, inhibited posterior chain which will move the femur head out of socket during certain movements. you can see some discussion on that in that post.
it is fascinating stuff and very complex as you dig deeper, but still very interesting.
i feel very fortunate that i live in the SF Bay and can drive up to see Roop every now and then. i usually work on something until i hit some roadblock, then i go up to see Roop who gives me a ton more things to do and think about. no substitute for his experience or training.
good luck on it and yes it can take a long time. it took me 4-5 months before i could get ass to heels in squat and then it’s taken twice that long to get there nearly without warm up and then it’s still not consistently perfect.
That timeline is brutal… And that video is outstanding. Makes me realize the importance of balance and stability in programming.
Do you have any understanding of how tight movers affect joint position and translation? Like in that article he said tight hamstrings can be a cause of the femur being pushed to the anterior of the joint, so mobilizing posterior chain and pulling the femur back makes sense, but then how do tight hip flexors and adductors impact the joint? Should we distract the joint from the outside to the inside to affect tight adductors (like pull the femur towards the sacrum)? I definitely don’t expect to find results like Somerset found in the video- that lady already had decent hip range and miles of posterior chain range, but I feel I’m missing some understanding of how each mover can affect joint position and how they should be addressed… Which may be something I’ll have to pay to figure out but its worth asking/brainstorming…
Re: tight movers, joint position
the concept is simple. you want proper joint centration for proper movement. this means that each joint must be properly centered in the socket to provide for optimal movement, force creation and force absorption, etc. if it is not, then muscle compensations can occur as well as wear/tear on the joint itself. both can lead to bad things as you can imagine and definitely less than your potential.
each joint as muscles surrounding it. if one set of muscles is not working properly, or has become short or tight, or atrophied, etc., then the joint may not be centrated any more during movement.
in the case you describe at the hip joint, if the hip flexors become dysfunctional and/or tight, then these can cause problems with the opposing muscles, like inhibited glutes as the neurological signal between the two becomes problematic. so tight, always on hip flexors are telling the glutes to never fire. in a normal functioning human, this is the correct response of an agonist/antagonist muscle pair. in a dysfunctional human, it can cause the hip to glide anteriorily as you attempt to flex your femur at the hip and then this can cause impingement.
similar things can happen at the shoulder joint where the shoulders can be biased forward due to tight pecs and pec minor among other structures. this weakens the posterior muscles and over time they stop firing. then you try to press and you wreck your shoulders because now they are attempting to rotate up while not being optimally centrated at the shoulder.
having said all of that, the diagnosis of what exactly is happening with you can be a bit tough. it was why i went to Roop. i hit a wall at the possibilities but he gave me (of course) the one i hadn’t considered – second time he did that to me haha! but he’s the guy with the credentials and experience…
always remember the categories to work on:
1. soft tissue
2. motor control
3. joint centration
go through all the possibilities – test/retest on every one. toss the ones with no effect, keep the ones with some effect. and remember it can take one session to see change, or months. yes the months part sucks.
good luck and let me know if you have questions on the above.
here is a good video on joint centration:
So… New development. I’ve discovered some small cysts in my anterior hip that I’m guessing are paralabral cysts. Meaning I have a labral tear in my left hip, which would’ve been caused by a skiing accident over a decade ago that left me walking funny for a couple weeks. I’ve been able to improve passive flexion in my right hip and I’m retraining my hip flexors to relax while in hip flexion as they tend to fire out of habit. But this would explain the almost constant tightness and sharp pains in my left hip flexor.
The question now is how to cope with the labral tear. I think it’s small as my overall hip function isn’t terrible and there’s not much pain. But I think I will be hard pressed to ever regain full internal rotation. Kstar has one video up I stumbled across about really focusing on using motor control to maintain as much primary joint stability as possible… But any other insights would be much appreciated… Great video by the way…