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Brian Schiff’s Blog

Injury Prevention, Sports Rehab & Performance Training Expert

Tag: hip weakness

I have been a bit behind on blogging as of late.  I try to aim for one per week, but I also strive to deliver sound and relevant content.  Additionally, I do not seek outside contributors so finding time to write can be tricky with work and family life too.  So, forgive me for any apparent inconsistency in posting.  Just know that I will always try to provide valuable content.  Today’s post centers around an article in the July 2012 edition of AJSM.


My work at the Athletic Performance Center has provided me an increased opportunity to work with FAI and athletic hip injuries.  This is an area of evolution and growth in our field, so I find it particularly interesting to see rationale and thought processes centering around the timing, contribution and selection of hip exercises for active patients/athletes.

This article comes from the Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail, CO.  The purpose of the study was to measure the highest activation of the piriformis and pectineus muscle during various exercises.  The hypothesis was that highest pectineus activation would occur with hip flexion and moderate activity with internal rotation, whereas the highest activation with the piriformis would be with external rotation and/or abduction.


Methods: 10 healthy volunteers completed the following 13 exercises:

  1. Standing stool hip rotation
  2. Supine double leg bridge
  3. Supine single leg bridge
  4. Supine hip flexion
  5. Side-lying hip ABD with external rotation
  6. Side-lying hip ABD with internal rotation
  7. Side-lying hip ABD against a wall
  8. Hip clam exercise with hips in 45 degrees of flexion
  9. Hip clam exercise with hips in neutral
  10. Prone heel squeeze
  11. Prone resisted terminal knee extension
  12. Prone resisted knee flexion
  13. Prone resisted hip extension

All of these exercises have been reported to be used in hip rehab following arthroscopy or recovery from injury.  The exercises were executed slowly and methodically with a metronome to reduce EMG amplitude variations.

Continue reading…

The longer I work with clients, the more hip issues I see.  Generally speaking, I find the major issues to be related to decreased mobility, poor stability and muscle imbalances.  These may occur in isolation or combination.

It is a no-brainer that most people have tight hip flexors and external rotators given all the sitting that takes place in our computer age.  This inherently creates weakness and tightness.  I feel that a natural propensity to be positioned in hip external rotation may actually reduce the firing of these muscles which in turn allows for more valgus moments at the knee and reduces lower limb stability.

Typically, female athletes fail to adequately fire the gluteus maximus (hip extension and external rotation) and prefer to dominate movement with the quads.  So, how do we begin to change this?

Well, first we must focus on better hip mobility.  I believe we must work to gain better hip extension by stretching the hip flexor group.  I also believe we need to do this dynamically and not just passively.  A dynamic approach also allows us to improve knee stability on the opposite side as we work on hip mobility.  It will also allow us to resist internal rotation of the femur and the valgus moment at the forward knee.

Look at the images below:



I am demonstrating a BOSU split squat diagonal chop.  This is the first of a series of BOSU exercises I am doing for PFP Magazine.  The upward chop forces hip extension on the right side and the downward motion reinforces firing of the left glutes to reduce internal rotation and valgus.  What a perfect combo right?

To read more about this exercise, click here.

Now, you should start on the floor with just the arms and progress from there.  This is a great prehab exercise or warm-up activity, but it cna also be used for strengthening too.  I hope you find it as beneficial in your routine as I do.