T Nation

Getting more Hip Flexion?


#1

I'm trying to do single leg leg presses, and I don't even have enough hip flexion to get to 90 degrees with one leg without rounding at the low back (which is meant to be easier that two legs, and getting to 90 degrees is meant to be easier in the leg press than the squat).

Every day for months (nearly a year now), I've been holding a two-minute (per leg) knee-to-chest stretch with a band distraction as recommended by the guys from MobilityWOD. Sorry to say, but it has not increased my hip flexion at all.

How do I increase my hip flexion so I can do leg press?


#2

Like most people you probably perform your hamstring stretches by rounding forwards at your back rather than hinging at your hips. What I would do is:
-stand up with your back to a wall, feet about a foot or so away from the base of the wall, the distance isn't critical at this point though as you can easily adjust this for comfort later)
-now "sit" your butt back against the wall (you can use your hands on the wall for added support at this stage)
-adjust your feet so that your legs act as a "wedge" basically holding you against the wall via the friction of your feet on the floor)
-now slightly bend one leg and completely straight the other leg (I'd also suggest "flexing/dorsi flexing" your straight leg's ankle)
-now that your legs are set, you need to maximally anteriorly tilt your pelvis (like you are trying really "stick your butt out" behind you)
-with your hips anteriorly tilted start to lean forwards (if you can) as if you were folding yourself in half like a jack knife (you can use your hands on your bent leg for added support)
-your goal with this stretch should be to lay your stomach on your thighs, not to touch your chest or head to your legs (which is what I see most people with poor hamstring flexibility doing during hamstring exercises)
-once your first leg relaxes/releases, press yourself back to standing using the bent leg and then repeat the stretch on the other side

If I'm right about my hunch you should feel this stretch BIG TIME in your hamstrings (assuming you perform it correctly of course)

Also note that there is a time, place, and benefit to performing rounded back hamstring stretches, but most people who complain of tight hamstrings aren't at that point yet.


#3

I don't think the mobility is lack of hamstring length, just that I feel some irritation at the joint capsule when trying to bend the hip in flexion. Like a femoral acetabular thing. Any way to get around that?


#4

Hey lunk, normally I get 90 degrees of hip flexion in my left leg while standing due to feeling something in front of that hip joint. I did some relatively heavy hip thrusts squezzing my glutes as hard as possible(as well as doing hip abduction targeting the glutes) and instantly noticed increased hip flexion range of motion(which also wanted to externally rotate the higher I got into flexion.)

You may have Femoral Anterior Glide Syndrome.
http://www.ericcressey.com/newsletter150html


#5

When you are doing your knee to chest stretch and/or your single leg leg press, how close to your centerline (a line that divides you into a left and right side) is your knee? Some people (myself included) have either tissue limitations (big thighs, big ribs/torso, etc...) or joint shape variations that will not allow them to maintain a lordotic arch while bringing the thigh to the centerline of the chest.

Try laying on your back and instead of bringing your knee straight up to your chest, bring it up at an angle to your chest (more like you are trying to bring it up to your nipple or even armpit) and see if that eliminates the irritation in the front of your hip (and allows you to keep your lordotic arch or at least a neutral spine).

Single leg leg press is also substantially more difficult to maintain a good spinal position during than a bilateral leg press IME; don't know where you got the idea that it should be easier.


#6

Here are your options.

Your glutes are tight and weak. Your glutes are loose and weak.

Tight glutes are extremely rare.

Doing all that stretching is a huge joke and waste of time.

Guys with great hip mobility have phenomenal strength in their glutes.


#7

Suuure it is dude, sure it is.

Don't listen to this advice lunk, stretching can and will improve your mobility, hundreds (if not thousands) of dancers, Yogis, gymnasts, Pilates practitioners, and martial artists have built impressive hip flexion/pike stretch flexibility through stretching. In other words, it's an extremely time tested and proven effective method of improving flexibility. In fact, it's the single most proven effective method (both anecdotally and scientifically).

Not saying that strengthening your glutes is a bad thing though; do both.