Hip mobility problems

Tarzan

More than 500 posts
I have to admit, I never stretch. I just don't get it really. I've had times where I have tried 3 or 4 times a week for about 2 months or more but I never saw any real benefits from it. I only ever gained a minimal increase in my ROM and always suffered a lot of pain from it.

It causes me massive pain in the opposite muscles to the ones I'm trying to stretch and makes them spasm and cramp up, sometimes for days afterwards. Then because of several tears in my labrum it just hurts for days afterwards and I always give up. My first labral tear was caused by doing a simple martial arts warmup stretch. It was a simple seated stretch where I sat with the soles of my feet together and pushed my thighs towards the floor with my elbows.

I have a Scottish/northern English heritage and Xrays on the labral tears show the typical deep hip sockets that Dr Stuart Mcgill talks about in some of his talks. A self hip scour test shows greatly limited angularity on external rotation/abduction.

It's almost paradoxical in one sense as I'm hypermobile in almost every other joint in my body.

Are there some people who are just not built for hip mobility ?
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
When the muscles on the opposite side cramp up, it can mean you're really working your stretch hard, so good on you for that.

But as an approach, it's not a solid one - like strength training, mobility and flexibility require a patient, dedicated approach over time.

The basic idea we teach at Flexible Steel is, in a nutshell: Use your strength to improve your flexibility. There are ways to do this. Is it possible you're not built for doing splits? Sure, but we must say, in the same breath, that anyone can make a great deal of progress and feel better, have fewer injuries, and stand a fair chance of keeping the grim reaper of creaking, immobile, painful joints at bay.

Back to cramps in the opposing muscles - I have a story which, no doubt, I've told here before but it's time for it again. :) I was a student at a flexibility workshop Pavel was teaching, and we were doing a lower back stretch; I got a cramp in my abs. Pavel took note of this, waited until my cramps had subsided somewhat and came up to me at a break, and told me a joke! Why did he tell me a joke? Because he knew that making me laugh would cause my abs to cramp up again - and he was right! Everyone around us enjoyed the entire experience, even me, I must reluctantly admit. :)

If you can find me a dozen students, I will be delighted to bring myself or one of our other instructor specialists to visit you Down Under and teach our one-day, level I instructor workshop. And I guarantee you that you will be more flexible, not only at the end of the day - typically we see improvements in range of motion in every exercise and drill we do all day long and in every student.

-S-
 

natewhite39

More than 500 posts
Certified Instructor
@Tarzan I did not see you mention in your post, but have you reviewed the breathing techniques discussed in "Relax into Stretch"? Correct breath management is huge for improving flexibility/ mobility. All the best.
 

Tarzan

More than 500 posts
Thanks for the in depth response Steve. I saw a picture of you doing the box splits one time and that was what inspired me to try again the last time I attempted the stretching.

@natewhite39 I have a copy of Relax into Stretch and I did try the breathing techniques which helped with other stretches but no so much for the splits.

The techniques in the book work great for other stretches it's just the pain from what feels like impingement when I do the splits - both scissor splits and box splits. I can put my chin on my shins on a forward stretch with my legs straight, there's just no progress on other stretches after the first week or of starting just lots of pain.

I'm certain the hip mobility or lack thereof is a major factor with my lower back alignment, so I've wanted to improve that for years. I have been run over by several cars and smashed myself up quite well back in my cycling days, maybe I'm expecting too much.
 

offwidth

More than 5000 posts
You are right about seeing Steve do elevated splits is impressive and inspiring. I'll throw out a question though. Tarzan, how flexible do you need to be? Going into pain like you describe would cross some sort of risk/reward boundary for me. I stretch and do mobility work a fair bit. Can I do the splits? Fairly close but no. Do I need to? I don't think so. Doing them would not really support any of my goals. I rock climb, and I'm flexible enough for that.
(I gotta admit it does look pretty cool though)
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@Tarzan, thank you; it's always nice to hear that something I've done has, in whatever way, encouraged someone else to try something like a split.

There really are techniques and progressions and the like for learning to do a split. When I teach Flexible Steel or work with a student in person or on Skype, I usually focus on their squat and on their Cossack stretch - whatever is needed for a split can be found in those things.

-S-
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@offwidth, mobilizing your hips can really help with back issues.

And if you are "fairly close" and you rock climb, my guess is that you're probably closer than you think you are and the rest could be accomplished with a bit of hard work, should you choose to do it. I don't look at it as pain - it needn't be painful, and it really can be based on strength and not misery.

-S-
 

offwidth

More than 5000 posts
@offwidth, mobilizing your hips can really help with back issues.

And if you are "fairly close" and you rock climb, my guess is that you're probably closer than you think you are and the rest could be accomplished with a bit of hard work, should you choose to do it. I don't look at it as pain - it needn't be painful, and it really can be based on strength and not misery.

-S-
Fair point about the hip mobility helping with back issues. The pain I was referring to was what Tarzan is experiencing. I don't experience pain when working on the splits, and I rather enjoy doing them. I guess the effort versus impact is not in it for me, because you are spot on... it's just about putting in the hard work.
 

Tarzan

More than 500 posts
I'll throw out a question though. Tarzan, how flexible do you need to be?
That's really what I am deliberating with the stretching issue. I know it will help with my back but it seems to reach a point of diminishing returns quite fast every time I attempt it.

I really think I need a hip arthroscopy to clean up any damage in the hip joint to be able to make any real progress with the splits but I need surgery on several other parts as well so it will have to go on hold for now.
 

Bro Mo

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I once read and now mostly subscribe to not stretching at all. I do however get as far into the full range of motion for all the movements I perform though.

Pause front squats and prying gobble squats have really help my hips and ankles. Some areas like my shoulders are intentionally immobile which prevents benefits from some movements though.

Ultimately though, I've just spent the last few years getting deeper into my front squats and I don't really feel the need for more.
 

MikeMoran

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@Tarzan have you tried the Rocking drill from Original Strength? That usually helps lots of folks with hip mobility. Do it a few minutes each day multiple times a day (2x). It seems simple but it is crazy enough to work.
 

DavThew

More than 500 posts
Some areas like my shoulders are intentionally immobile
What advantage do you gain from an immobile joint? Genuine curiosity here, as I had always thought a base of mobility over a good level of stability was important.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@DavThew, I subscribe to a simple model, that our bodies joints alternate between mobility and stability. All need to be strong, of course.

Feet stable, ankles mobile, knees stable, hips mobile, lower back stable, upper back mobile. Shoulders should be mobile.

Edit - mobile, but stable in various positions.

-S-
 
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Bro Mo

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@DavThew
I had a lot of shoulder dislocations resulting in subluxation (really loose) and damage which was solved with some surgeries to intentionally limit my shoulder mobility and prevent further injuries.
 

Tarzan

More than 500 posts
@MikeMoran - no I haven't tried the OS rocking technique, I'll give it a try and see how I go.

@Bro Mo - I've popped my shoulder well over a hundred times, I ended up having a rotator cuff tear repaired and that was unsuccessful for me. I really have to keep a high degree of tension in that joint or will pop out again. I really understand what you mean about too much flexibility. A shoulder joint isn't bound/limited by ligaments like other joints, so muscular tension is very important.

My hip is in a similar situation now, paradoxically it's a loose joint but has limited mobility in some areas which refer tension into my back and also down into my hamstrings & calf.
 
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