Thursday, March 31, 2011

60 Seconds to Better Movement: Lying Knee-to-Knee Mobilization on Wall

The other day, Ron (one of our SAPT clients), came up to me after his session.  He had been performing a mobilization at the end of his session and asked me:

"I really like that drill you've been having me do on the wall, but WHY exactly am I doing it?  What is it for?"

This gave me an idea for a blog post because:
  1. Just yesterday I was talking about the importance of asking the "Why?" question to a trainer, strength coach, or anyone trying to hand you exercise advice.  As soon as Ron asked me the question, it was a perfect test for me to put my money where my mouth was.  After explaining it to him (and him looking satisfied/intrigued with the answer), I thought I'd shared it with the rest of you. 
  2. It's a fantastic drill for most (not all) people to do; especially males, in particular.
First, here's the drill:

What is it for?

To improve hip internal rotation (IR).  Specifically: a loss of hip IR caused by muscular restrictions (as opposed to passive restrictions such as labrums, minisci, bone, etc.).

Why should you care?

Poor hip internal rotation is strongly correlated with low back pain, and also knee pain.

Basically, when the body can't draw range of motion from an area that it should be able to draw it from (ex. the hip), it will call in another segment of the body (ex. the low back) to pick up the slack.  When this happens over and over again - especially under load as it would in a squat, or under a fair amount of rotational torque as it would during a friendly soccer or football game - it's highly possible to experience pain/injury at the knee joint or low back back. 

For the common person, this can be an issue if your squatting in the weight room (you need significant hip internal rotation to go into deep hip flexion, such as in the bottom of a squat), or going out with a group of friends to play a casual game of soccer or flag football. 

In the athletics realm, it's frequently common for hockey players, golfers, soccer players, baseball players, and powerlifters (and most rotational sport athletes, in general).

How to do it

Be sure the knees and hips are flexed (bent) at 90degrees, as shown in the video.  The feet should be outside shoulder width.

Keep your feet flat on the wall as you drive the knees together (ex. don't excessively pronate the feet in to get the knees closer).  Don't force range-of-motion here, just gently mobilize the knees in and out.

As you rotate the knees outward, it's o.k. to rotate onto the outside of the feet, as shown.

A couple notes

  1. If you're a female, I wouldn't jump the gun on this one.  A lot of females already tend to have a fair amount of hip internal rotation, due to their hip structure (wider hip bone). 
  2. This can be performed before a training session (especially if you're squatting that day, as you'll notice significantly improved hip mobility as you descend into the bottom).  It can also be used at the end of an athletic event (especially if you're a baseball pitcher, or partake in a rotational sport) or training session.  This will help loosen up the external rotators of the hip that tend to tighten up over time. 
  3. This drill can also be done with the feet on the floor (a valid option), but I personally prefer to have the feet on the wall as it's a bit more low-back friendly.  
Give it a shot!


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