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Hip Mobility or Flexibility?


Well Iv been stretching my hip flexors for a while now and my back still rounds during the squat. I'v also been stretching my hamstrings a lot.

the reason im thinking it is hip mobility is because when I do a bent over hammy stretch, i dont feel the stretch anymore, in face I dont feel a stretch at all. My back just wont bend over at all. Also If I do a glute bridge and bring 1 leg up to my chest it wont go past 90 degrees.

If it is a mobility problem how long would it take to fix


hold your lumbar arch like for the start of a squat descent... then bend forwards from the hip (not from the lumbar spine!!). how far do you get? can you touch your finger tips to the ground? feel a hammie stretch now?

holding the lumbar arch while squatting is more about voluntary control over the relevant muscles than it is about stretching. or... once you have voluntary control over your muscles then squatting will get you flexible enough for squatting (the movement will gradually get a better ROM). only squat as low as you are able while maintaining your lumbar curve. When you get to the bottom position for you then try and push it a little deeper and it will get deeper in time. people often stretch their hammies till the cows come home yet still lose their lumbar arch when squatting because they don't seem to understand how to get themselves a lumbar arch in the first place:


how long it takes to fix depends on what the problem is. work on it, though, because it doesn't sound like it is going to go away by itself.


Feel the hammie stretch now?

Sadly iv been doing this for a while now. So i dont really feel the stretch. When i bend, my hips get parallel to the ground the just get stuck. Kinda similar to when you try and stretch your calves on a step and you feel no stretch because of flexible calves.

I was watching a guy youtube doing knee hugs and i saw his back stays archd but when i tried them my back rounded. Same thing with leg swings.


ah, i think i see what you mean. it feels like you get to the end of the range of motion and you can't get more range of motion but it doesn't feel like you are stretching the muscles, it feels more like the joint gets stuck?

with the knee hugs... only hug them as hard as you can while maintaining your lumbar arch. basically... start by holding your lumbar arch. then attempt the exercise and see how far you get. when you get to the end of the range of motion then try and push it just a little while maintaining your lumbar arch. forget about the 'and then my back rounds' part of it. as soon as you start to lose your lumbar arch your form has broken down -- exercise terminated.

i get the end of range of motion but no stretch feeling thing quite a lot. the thing that typically gets me a bit more of a range of motion... is self myofascial release. can take some hunting around to figure what needs to be released for more of a ROM... but there typically is something in the vicinity. tendons can take a while to loosen up...


Wow thank you so much. Finally now i understand. For months iv been working on flexibility and i didnt know the difference between mobility and flexibility. But now i know.

I wish i started working on the mobility stuff earlier. When i fix this im gonna post a form check video thanks alexus



flexibility is how much length (stretch) you get in a muscle.

mobility is how much of a range of motion you have around a joint.

sometimes things can be passively pulled (stretched) into positions that can't be attained by voluntary motion (mobility).

holding your lumbar arch is a neural recruitment thing (some people don't get how to voluntarily contract their spinal erectors to get their lumbar arch).

holding your lumbar arch is a pre-requisite for movements like squatting and deadlifting.

what matters now is the mobility (range of motion) you can get out of your hips (while the position of your lumbar spine / your lumbar arch remains fixed).

maybe you will need a stretching component... but work your mobilization, yeah. it is only when you don't have mobility because of a muscular restriction that things need to be stretched. and basically... i've found i don't need stretching for very much at all... but i foam roll / self adhesion release my muscles on a daily basis. over and over again. soft tissue release = instant mobility + flexibility. for me, anyway.


Neither. Lower back strength. People seem to always leave that one out...


if the lower back got injured because it was weak then that would be important, yes.

(though 'lower back strength' is of course about half of 'core strength')

the issue with the lower back is that injury often results from it overtraining precisely because it does more work than its share.

e.g., i like to set my deadlift up with my hips high. my legs don't much like to get involved. i can move more weight with my hips high using hip extension (back mostly) than i can setting up lower and using my legs until the bar has cleared my knees.

for now.

of course the hammies and the glutes and the quads are capable of getting much stronger than the lower back.


if you train them properly.

often the injured part is the victim of other weaknesses. weakness of it is not often the cause...


so again...

if the hips and thoracic spine cannot move: the lumbar spine will.


Do you have anterior pelvic tilt? If so, then stretching your hamstrings is about the very last thing you want to do as they will be perpetually in an elongated state and you'd only be worsening your chances of injuring it.

Hamstring flexibility is VERY rarely an issue. Tight hamstrings =/= inflexible hamstrings (read above.) Try these for mobility: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AkYGjsp410

Your thinking is a little bit mixed up atm.


Ok then. I'll elaborate. Likely a lack of core strength. After all this is what pulls the lumbar spine into an arched position throughout the squat against our body's natural tendencies.

I'm not so sure the erector spinae are the type of muscles to get injured from overuse, but more so sprain from being stretched more than they should in efforts to keep the lumbar spine neutral. Think about it. You can squat til your heart pops. If you keep your lower back arched you're not going to injure those muscles. It's when you have a weak lower back that you are asking surrounding muscles to take over and stretching those muscles more than they need to as rounding kicks in. I stand by my original statement. If you can't maintain an arch throughout the squatting motion, your lower back is not strong enough.


check this out:


In particular:

this more upright angle [of the torso that is gained by setting up with the hips lower] minimizes hip and lumbar torque and consequently fatigue of the spinal erectors during the first pull. Because the lower back is most easily fatigued relative to the other muscle groups involved in the lift, and these muscles must be able to maintain rigidity of the spine during the second pull in order to maximize the conversion of hip and knee extension power to acceleration of the barbell, more work by the lower back early in the lift will mean less rigidity and more of the hips? and legs? power being absorbed by back flexion.

the lower back is most easily fatigued.
the lower back is most likely the victim of overuse injury.
the solution isn't to train the lower back more...
it is to strengthen other muscles (hammies, glutes, quads) to do more of the work.


try holding a plate out in front of you so you are looking through the hole (5kg will do). now set your lumbar arch. now squat your ass straight down between your legs while maintaining your lumbar arch. how low did you get? you can do it now - right?

holding the weight out in front encourages you to switch your abs on...


Where did I ever say to train the lower back more? Overtraining the lower back is about as dumb as never training it.

Moreover, do you know how much the OP is currently training his lower back? If the number is zero, then YES, he should train it more!!

If you can't hold the arch in your squat the lower back is NOT STRONG ENOUGH TO PERFORM THE TASK. Period. We're not even talking about overuse here. OP can't do a squat without rounding.


ah. i see what you are saying.

(lolz - sorry for the miscommunication)

could be a neurological / activation issue rather than a strength issue, though. or could be that the hip flexors (for instance) are tighter and even stronger than the erectors so are overpowering them...

all i mean is that training the lower back more probably isn't likely to help with the issue, either. unless the training for the lower back involves... getting and keeping the lumbar arch.


Yeah i knew that. Just whenever somebody would say work on mobility i would always think stretch the muscles but now i understand.

I started deadlifting and planks before i started squatting so it cant be core strength thats causing my back rounding. Some of my friends suck at have weak cores and weak lower back but their backs dont round. But I have figured that my mobility sucks so yeah


maybe this helps:

people often find holding a plate out in front of them (about 5kg) helps with the above, too.
helps you sit down hard into your hip flexors (which will probably feel like a bit of a stretch) and activate the (probably already strong!) abs.


of course there is crossover.

i do a lunge matrix sometimes. when i haven't done it in a while each lunge is a stretch. i can feel the tightness in the muscles and they gradually lengthen... but a lunge matrix is typically regarded a mobility drill. when i do it regularly the movement gets smoother as i do it but i don't feel any muscle tightness at all. i guess recruitment / activation is part of it, too. waking up the CNS and stuff...