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Many of my athletes and clients exhibit poor hip mobility related to sitting and repetitive activity. Limited hip flexor and hamstring mobility both contribute to poor hip disassociation. One method I like to utilize to improve hip mobility is active isolated stretching.
 
Execution:
Begin in a supine position with both legs flat on the floor. Place a rope or stretching strap over the ball of the left foot. Next, pressing the right heel into the floor, slowly pull the left leg up toward you with the rope or strap while simultaneously actively contracting the quadriceps muscle to extend the left knee.

Pull the leg up until a good stretch is felt in the hamstrings. Pause for 2-3 seconds and then return to the start position. Be sure to avoid letting the right foot (down leg) turn outward to achieve more hip flexion on the right leg. Additionally, maintain a neutral spine throughout the stretch as the lumbar spine may extend in the presence of iliopsaos tightness. Perform 10 repetitions and then switch sides.



Application:
This exercise is an excellent way to increase hip disassociation and more specifically hamstring flexibility. Foam rolling and/or myofascial compression therapy prior to stretching may further enhance range of motion. This exercise can be used with runners and clients struggling with tendonitis, IT band issues and patellofemoral pain. It is also helpful in eliminating asymmetry that appears on the active straight leg raise on the FMS.

This exercise can be used as part of a mobility workout, warm-up, regeneration day or at the end of a workout. Remember that maximally dorsiflexing the foot will increase dural tension and place more stretch across the back of the knee. So, relaxing the foot (or placing the rope more along the mid foot) will reduce this tension and allow for a more concentrated stretch in the hamstring. For clients with a history of sciatica, I would suggest avoiding the stretch with the foot in full dorsiflexion as a general precaution.

Brian Schiff, PT, OCS, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. Currently, he serves as the supervisor for EXOS API at Raleigh Orthopaedic. 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.

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