After you finish a hard workout, where are you sore or tight? “Everywhere!” might very well be your answer.
Dr. Kelly Starrett, TRX® Duo Trainer™co-creator and founder of MWOD, says “Painful tissue is dysfunctional tissue,” so that means you’ve got some work to do. And if you’ve paid much attention to Kelly, you know that we can’t just chase pain. We also need to periodically work head- to- toe and vice versa to eliminate restrictions, overcome range of motion issues and restore slide-and-glide to tacked-down soft tissues so that you can maximize power output, efficiency and durability while you train, and through daily activities.
Now you’re facing a seemingly impossible task. Surely you can’t hit every body part or muscle group that is sore, tight or restricted every day, right? Well, no. At least not if you want to have a life. And yet we see all too many trainers and coaches trying to rush their athletes through as many mobilizations as possible after a workout, giving their clients the impression that when it comes to mobility, more is better. But that’s where they’re wrong. Better is better! It’s more beneficial to spend 10 to 15 minutes every day creating real change with a couple of mobility exercises, than to frantically move all over your body trying to put out all those little pain and tightness fires.
So where to begin? Well first, think about the major muscle groups, joints and motion segments you taxed during today’s session. Hit a new squat PR? You’re going to want to focus on your hips, quads and hamstrings. Banged out a lot of atomic pushups on the TRX Duo Trainer? Then your pecks, triceps and shoulders need some attention. In addition to targeting movement-specific areas, also keep in mind your personal trouble spots. If you’ve sprained your ankle a lot playing basketball, for example, you should regularly smash your calves and spend some time mobilizing your feet. Feel that lower back flare up from time to time? Then start there and also go after your glutes. The third consideration is looking at your daily mobility work through a longer lens. Consider the mobilizations you’ve done in the past couple of days and try to move onto new areas. Also look ahead to your programming for the rest of the week and how this will influence your mobility focus on the days ahead.
To help you reboot your daily mobility practice, check out the below recommendations -- as well as Part 2 and Part 3 that will be posted in coming weeks -- for three prescriptions addressing common areas of the body that often get sore and tight after training. Today’s topic is Hips.
The hips play a key role in virtually every movement. To create power, transfer it between the lower and upper body (and vice versa) and maintain trunk stability, we need to have full hip extension and flexion. And yet both are often compromised by not only failing to mobilize daily, but also by poor lifestyle choices such as bad posture and sitting for hours each day. This is why it’s essential that you not only put your hips in the archetypal lunge, hinge and squat shapes on a regular basis, but also add in some remedial work that will open them up. Kelly offers a broader range of mobilizations in his seminal book becoming a Supple Leopard (2nd edition), but you can start with this simple combination:
A) Quad Smash
> Lie on the floor and place a roller or ball under your left quad, just above the knee
> Slowly smash across the roller or ball, moving from side to side
> Spend a minute or two in the starting position, then move the mobility tool up your quad a bit towards the hip
> Repeat until you’re at the point where your leg meets your pelvis
> Switch legs. If you find a tight or sore spot, hang out there for a while; take some long slow deep breaths until you feel a change (tightness or tenderness dissipates)
B) Couch Stretch with Overhead Bias
> Set a plyo box under a TRX Duo Trainer (TRX Duo Trainer anchored with the handles positioned at eye level)
> Kneel in front of the box, facing away from it
> Step forward with your right leg, as if you were starting a lunge
> Put your left shin against the front side of the box, with your toes pointed, foot just outside the line of your lower leg and turned slightly inward
> Place your right palm flat on the floor and push your left hip towards the ground
> Hold for five to 10 seconds, relax and repeat
> Once you’ve spent two minutes in the bottom position, try to rise up and straighten your torso, with your right hand no longer on the ground. If necessary, use another box or bench for stability. You don’t have to come all the way up the first time. Stop when you feel a stretch in the front of your hip/quad. If you’re super tight in the quad, go back and smash it for a couple of minutes and then re-test with the couch stretch.
> To lengthen the fascial line (for the uninitiated, fascia and webs of connective tissue that run throughout the body), try extending your left arm up and grabbing one of the Duo Trainer straps while you’re in the top position of the couch
> After a couple of minutes in the top position, switch legs
C) Lunge with Overhead Bias
> Get into a lunge position below the TRX Duo Trainer anchored overhead (handles positioned at eye level), with your left foot forward
> Push your right hip (back leg) towards the floor, hold for five to 10 seconds, then relax and repeat. Keep your core tight and torso upright.
> For a different stimulus, try rotating your back leg inwards or outwards before pushing the back hip towards the floor
> After at least two minutes, switch legs
> To target the high hip, reach your hand up on the same side as the back leg (so if your left leg is back, use your left hand) and hold onto a TRX Duo Trainer Strap. You can also face a squat rack pole or other anchor and loop a mobility band around the back leg.