T Nation

Hip Mobility! Help??

I recently saw a Physical therapist about my lower back issues and not being able to squat over 200 lbs without messing myself up in quite a while, and he thinks the cause of the issue is an extreme lack of flexibility/mobility. When I squat, I lose my arch near the bottom of the squat and by the time I am at parallel my back is basically rounded or in “flexion”. This is probably why I can’t squat without screwing myself up.

If any of you guys know of good hip mobility drills (thats what I need right?) or stretches that could help me out in maintaining an arched back throughout the squat, I would really appreciate it. I have been doing static stretching the past 5 months with some flexibilty improvement, but overall it is not good enough at all. Also, my hamstrings are still tight as fuck.

I will be doing more reasearch on this myself once finals season is over, but I’m hoping you guys might have some good info on this.


I am surprised your physical therapist didn’t give you any stretching exercises. Most importantly, you need to have flexible hamstrings to squat deep. The more flexible they are, the lower you can sit into a squat without your back rounding (flexion). But while you are at it, you should be stretching everything.

You can do a lunge stretch and lean forwards and backwards to put the emphasis on different areas.

Put your leg up on a low chair with your leg straight and lean into your leg to stretch the hamstrings.

Put the ball of your foot on a step and let your heel hang off the step to stretch your calf muscles. Do one leg at a time.

These should get you off to a good start.

Sorry, didn’t read your entire post. Start your workout with a few minutes walk on the treadmill just to get your body temperature up. Then do dynamic warmups (not ballistic stretches).

You will do marching with high knees, arm circles, walking lunges (keep the reps low for these to stay fresh, but do more sets…you shouldn’t get fatigued from these), side bends. Also, lean your body forward while holding onto an object for balance and raise one leg to the rear. Alternate legs. You can also do leg raises to the front, alternating legs. YOu should NOT be swinging your legs, but using muscular control to move them.

Then after a while, start doing squats with no additional weight. Just hold your arms straight out for balance. You can also do these onto a bench and try to keep your arch as best as you can.

Do a regular workout and at the conclusion of it, do static stretches as you normally would. After all the static stretches, practice squatting with just the bar to make use of being loose after all that stretching.

What’s up man,

I’m no expert so the following words are only from my own experience.

What has helped at least me are overhead squats w/ bb, and hip hurdle mobility drills.

Hip hurdle mobility drills i got from Coach Davies’ book, check out his site or maybe even T-Nation, might have them somewhere. If you don’t have hurdles, Cressey’s (I believe) article “10 uses for a Smith machine” is probably as good a read as any.

Overhead squats, Dan John has written a lot about them, search T-Nation and/or his site. Start w/ a broomstick, really try to get to the bottom with good form. Maybe u could try to do some contract/relax when at the bottom position of a OHSQ. Sometimes, if u try a barbell instead of a broomstick, or add weight in general, u might notice that its easier to get to the bottom cause the weight kind of pushes you down. When using weight though, tempting to not go all the way to the bottom.

Also, a good morning hamstring stretch, PNF-style could help u loosen up ur hamstrings. Basically u reach ur butt back, chin forward, balance w/ hands, to a point where u feel a stretch/tension in ur hams. Then u squeeze/create tension in ur whole body, and release the tension, which should cause the stretch to deepen.

Hope this helps.

Try front squats with dumbbells. Start light, keep your head up and pause for a second at the bottom. If you keep doing these, you should improve your flexibility.

Hey check the good use of a smith machine on this site. This has helped me a great deal and my lower back has not felt better. Even when the weight on my back gets above 315…or DLs

You’re in luck. All the advice you’ve received thus far has been pretty good; definitely check out “10 Uses for a Smith Machine” and “Get Your Butt in Gear” (parts 1 and 2). However, these drills are really the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Mike and I use with our athletes and clients. The whole enchilada is going to our upcoming DVD, “Magnificent Mobility.” It’ll be available for purchase at the T-Nation store within two weeks (hopefully in time for X-mas, if the production guys get with the program).

We actually okayed the final version yesterday, and as I watched it, I realized that it was almost the kind of thing that you could roll through like it was an old-style aerobics tape. Basically, if you didn’t want boring ol’ steady-state cardio, you could literally put this in the DVD player and do 35-40 minutes of pure mobility work. Very cool stuff; we’re really excited.

thanks guys I will try all of these exercises. I wanna squat!

What type of set/rep scheme is appropriate for the mobility drills?

I guess I shouldve asked this before, but I dont fully understand what mobility is and how itll help with squatting full ROM vs flexibility from stretching?

I think I will be getting that DVD Eric, thanks for the heads up!

first [quote]Eric Cressey wrote: “Get Your Butt in Gear” (parts 1 and 2).[/quote]

ten-four soldier …

then, re: the DVD, he sez [quote]Very cool stuff; we’re really excited.[/quote]

You’re excited? I just peed my pants!


There are 2 books written by Mark Versteagen-Core Performance and Core Performance Essentials. Both books have good mobility work in them. The post on uses for the Smith machine also had good hip mobility exercises.

Mark Nilles

A variation of hamstring stretch which helped me is the supine hamstring stretch. It is performed by lying down in a doorway and placing the leg you are stretching on the wall while the other leg rests flat on the floor (through the doorway). The object is to eventually be able to get your butt against the wall while your stretched leg is completely vertical and unbent.

If low back pain is impeding progress, you can raise your butt off the ground so the stretch is concentrated in the hamstring. Stretch your tightest hammy first and then match the range of motion with the other leg. This stretch has proven more useful to me than a standing hamstring stretch.


John Davies is the man to see for hip fexibility, hurdle duck unders and over head squats and stuff, his book renegade training for football has a bunch of great exercises to improve hip flexibility