Place a slider under the ball of the right foot. Slowly slide the right foot and descend into a split squat position while bringing the hands overhead. Lower down until a moderate but tolerable stretch is felt in the right hip. Pause for 3-5 seconds and then return to the upright position. Repeat 5-10 times and then repeat placing the slider beneath the left foot.
The goal is also to maintain stability and proper alignment in the stationary leg and not allow the femur to internally rotate or the hip to adduct toward midline. Avoid lumbar hyperextension as this is a common compensatory strategy to gain hip extension if the psoas is tight. You may also witness external rotation of the sliding foot/leg. It is best to caution the client to move slowly and incrementally so there is not a rapid movement that may activate the GTO and create unintentional strain on the muscle fibers. In general, the client will gain more motion with each successive repetition.
Excessive hip flexor tightness may contribute to excessive lordosis, contribute to low back pain, negatively impact running mechanics and facilitate muscle imbalances and faulty movement patterns. The slider offers a way to improve hip mobility with a dynamic movement pattern that also facilitates hip stability on the contralateral side. More specifically, the slider allows for progressive and incremental movement that can be controlled by the client.
At the bottom of the movement, side bend away from the back leg to introduce additional stretch. This can be an effective way to hit the TFL as well.
If this proves too challenging for the client in terms of balance/control, allow them to use the hand opposite the sliding leg to hold onto a table or support to increase stability while focusing on the hip stretch. Once proficient, progress to the unsupported version.
Brian Schiff, PT, OCS, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. Currently, he serves as the supervisor for Athletes' Performance at Raleigh Orthopaedic in Raleigh, NC. Brian conducts live continuing education webinars and presents nationally at professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention, rehab and sport-specific training. For more information on his products and services, visit www.BrianSchiff.com.