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20 December 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Stretching pt 3- Back of Hip

n the introduction post to this series, we reviewed and answered some common questions regarding stretching, including why, when, how, etc. Click here to review it.

In this post we will be talking about stretches specifically for the back of the hip (this includes the piriformis, quadratus femoris and gemelli/obturator muscles). There are two main stretches for this area. The first is to loosen up the overlying glute muscles and the second series of stretches in the video are meant the deeper piriformis/external rotator muscles.

The Progression:

Level One: The warm up. Before moving on to the piriformis/external rotator stretches, start by laying on your back and stretching out the overlying gluteus maximus stretches.

How to do this stretch: Start by laying flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. From here, pull one knee to your chest using your hands and straighten out the other leg so that you look like the picture above. Hold for 20-30 seconds and switch to the other leg. repeat 3-4 times.

Level Two: Laying on your back. These stretches are ideal for people who are coming back from an injury to the back of the hip or who have had back problems in the past. By laying down your back is supported and your arms do all the work. The key is to keep your leg as relaxed as you can. It’s just going for a ride. If you feel pinching or pain in the front of the hip/groin while working on this stretch, you will want to start by stretching out the front of your hip. If it’s still uncomfortable- don’t pull the knee as far to the opposite shoulder.

Level Three: Using the other leg for leverage. This is a more difficult stretch position because it requires good core control and flexibility in the low back. Try to keep your neck and shoulders relaxed!!

Level Four: Using body weight. This position requires a good amount of flexibility and uses your body weight to increase the amount of stretch placed on the muscle. Remember- you want the stretches to be repeatable. Go easy!!

The Rules:

1) Stretching should NEVER hurt. The goal is to only go until you feel a pull in the muscle. It should not be to go until it hurts in one of those “no pain, no gain” efforts. It should be comfortable and repeatable, allowing you to move a little further with each repetition.2) Perform stretches when the muscles are warmed up. This can be following a workout or following work with the foam roller. Click here to review the self massage post for the back of the hip (this includes pictures and video using a foam roller and tennis ball to review 3 self muscle release techniques).

2) Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3-4 times. You can hold longer than the 20 seconds, but the reps are key. You will always get more out of stretching frequently versus one killer session a week.

3) If hurt- be sure to stretch the opposing muscle groups. For the back of the hip, this means the front of the hip (psoas, hip flexors, etc), side of the hip (glute med, ITB), and inner thigh (adductors). If it is too painful to stretch out the back of the hip  do to injury, focus on these groups instead and work your way up  to stretching the injury itself. Always start at level 1 and work you way up.

The Video:

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