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Brian Schiff’s Blog

Injury Prevention, Sports Rehab & Performance Training Expert

Tag: hip strengthening

Whether doing prehab, rehab or training, I believe in using single leg exercises to attack asymmetries, imbalances and motor deficits I uncover in my assessments.  Learning to control one’s body in space with the effect of gravity in a weight bearing position is instrumental for sport and injury prevention.

Furthermore, facilitating ankle mobility and proper knee alignment during a loaded squat pattern is something most athletes and clientele I work with need some help with.  to that end, I utilize several different single leg reaching progressions and exercises.  One of my favorite ‘go to’ exercises is the anterior cone reach.

2-hand-ant-cone-reach

I recently featured this specific exercise in my ‘Functionally Fit’ column for PFP Magazine.  Click here to see the video demonstration.

This is a great exercise with progressions and regressions for clients of all ages and abilities.

Click here to read the entire column.

Increasing hip strength and stability is a common focus in training and injury prevention programs. Current research indicates hip and knee strengthening is more effective than knee strengthening alone in those suffering from anterior knee pain. I routinely use mini-bands to strengthen the hips and maximize proximal stability.

Many clients struggle with poor proximal hip stability that shows up as excessive frontal plane adduction and compensatory trunk lean. This exercise targets the hips and closed chain control needed for those participating in jumping, running, cutting and pivoting activities. It is an excellent way to warm-up and activate the hips as well as reduce patellofemoral overload and prevent knee injuries.

Many athletes and clients struggle with hamstring muscle activation.  A normal quad to hamstring ratio would be 3:2, but studies often find that subjects tend to be closer to 2:1 (especially females).  This diminished ratio can increase knee injury risk (non-contact ACL) with jumping and cutting sports.  Some people struggle with proximal hamstring tendinopathy related to overuse.  Incorporating eccentric hamstring exercises in your training can markedly improve hamstring strength and activation patterns.

kneeacl

Quad/Ham dynamic relationship

Execution: Begin in supine with 90 degrees of knee flexion and the feet flat on the floor.  Next, bridge up into a table top position.  Then, slowly begin to walk the feet out keeping the weight on the heels in an alternating pattern.  Move the feet as far away from the body as possible while maintaining a good static bridge position.

Once form starts to falter or fatigue sets in, walk the feet back in using the same cadence and incremental steps until the start position is achieved.  Perform 5 repetitions and repeat 2-3 times.  Focus on control while avoiding pelvic rotation, and be cautious working into too much knee extension to avoid poor form or cramping.

This is an excellent way to improve hamstring strength while emphasizing pelvic stability.  This exercise should be preceded by static bridging to ensure the client understands how to maintain a neutral pelvic position (consider using a half roll or towel as a visual aid to cue him/her out of rotational movement initially).  The walk out exercise can be implemented as part of ACL prevention/rehab programs and also works well for runners and athletes struggling with hip/pelvic stability, proximal tendinopathy and general posterior chain weakness.

Regression: Bridge up and march in place for repetitions or time to develop sufficient strength and stability.

Progression: Increase repetitions or slow the cadence down pausing longer at each step to increase time under tension.  Additionally, move the hands from palm down to palm up to reduce stability.  For advanced clientele, the arms could be crossed with the hands resting on the opposite shoulder.

This is the second installment of corrective “go-to” exercises I am highlighting here and in my online column for PFP magazine. Click here to read the post on resisted overhead squats.  The in-line lunge allows for the observer to pick up flaws or asymmetry by placing the body in a narrow stance with a wide stride to assess hip, knee, ankle and foot mobility and stability of the client.  It places the upper and lower extremities in alternate asymmetrical patterns.

Limited mobility or hip disassociation will produce movement dysfunction with the in-line lunge (see picture below for how it is assessed during the FMS).

in-line-lunge

A common corrective exercise prescribed to improve mobility is the leg lock bridge.

Execution: Begin in supine flexing one leg up to the chest.  Hold the flexed leg against the chest while keeping the extended (down) leg in line with the center of the body and the knee flexed.  A small ball (pictured below), pillow or towel roll may be placed between the thigh and chest for tactile feedback regarding the lock position.

Next, push down through the extended leg on the floor to elevate the hips off the ground into a bridge.  The height of the bridge should be limited to the point where contact can be maintained between the thigh of the flexed hip and the chest keeping the extended hip/thigh in the in-line position.  Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

leg-lock-bridge

Application:  The ability to stride in a lunge position without forward trunk lean during the in-line lunge can be inhibited by tight hip flexors.  Soft tissue work and stretching is certainly helpful, but this active mobility exercise will improve reciprocal movement and facilitate hip disassociation.  It is a great exercise to include as part of your corrective exercise series and/or movement and pillar prep work with your clients.

If clients struggle or experience hamstring cramping, consider adding a small step beneath the foot of the extended leg to increase the hip flexion starting position.  Modifications and adjustments to sets, repetitions and distance between the flexed thigh and chest as well as the extended foot and ground should be considered with exercise prescription.

Mini-Band Hip Bridges

While I treat a vast number of knee ailments in my practice, the focus of my training and rehab is often more proximally directed at the hip.  Understanding the role of hip muscles and how the hips and pelvis work together to impact knee alignment and closed chain function is critical in resolving knee pain and dysfunction.

Below is a “go to exercise” exercise I use for gluteus medius activation and core/pelvic stability training.  Using a mini-band provides an adduction force cueing the client to abduct and activate their external rotators to maintain proper alignment. Additionally, they need to avoid a drop on one side of the pelvis (look at the ASIS).

Click here to read my entire column dedicated to this exercise in PFP’s online magazine.  I hope you find this exercise and information useful for you and/or your clients.