Hips Don’t Lie: They’re Stronger Than You Are

Love to Eat? Introducing

Are you passionate about food, nutrition and recipes? Unleash your inner foodie and check out our brand-new site - share your favorite recipes at Nutrition-WOD today!

Print
by MISSY ALBRECHT, DPT, CSCS, FMS| Physical Therapist/Coach

Hips Don't Lie: They're Stronger Than You Are

Do your homework! [Y]ou should be improving your hip extension mobility to allow your body to achieve full hip extension at the top and relieve your low back and other areas that are working overtime for your missing hip flexibility.
Do you know what’s stronger than you? I’m not talking about that person in class whom you envy because s/he lifts heavier weights and gets better times on the WODs. I’m talking about something that is stronger than you. That’s right — there’s something that’s stronger than you. Stronger than I am. Stronger than everyone. And it’s that pain-in-the-butt muscle that you have been trying to fix/stretch/mobilize FOREVER… and you think it’s giving up and relaxing, but it’s just not. That muscle is stronger than whatever you’re trying to do. So you give up and hope that the workouts will just fix the muscle, especially when you continue to lift heavier weights and WOD faster, but in reality it’s not fixed until that muscle (or group of muscles) relaxes and allows you to get into a good position. So what happens when it’s not fixed and you continue to WOD in poor positions? Eventually, your body will breakdown somewhere and injury will occur.

Side note #1 (on WODing with poor movement): Dysfunctional movement isn’t always painful, and functional movement isn’t always pain free. You can’t always use pain as your guide to whether you’re doing something right/wrong.

Got Hip Mobility?

Got Hip Mobility?
One of the most common problems fitting this description is hip extension (i.e. open hips at the top of a squat, deadlift, etc.). Many people are missing that hip extension at the top of a movement, usually due to tight anterior hip muscles and maybe some poor movement patterns. When you do a squat, deadlift, power clean, kettlebell swing, etc. and can’t open your hips at the top, you end up pulling with your back to stand up all the way. This in itself is dysfunctional because over time your back gets tight and your spine gets overworked. And once you’re doing this for months, it’s hard to change this movement pattern because your brain has been programmed to think this is good movement. In reality, you should be improving your hip extension mobility to allow your body to achieve full hip extension at the top and relieve your low back and other areas that are working overtime for your missing hip flexibility (such as the thoracic spine and ribs). No matter how hard you try to squeeze your butt and open your hips at the top, your tight anterior hip muscles are stronger than your abdominals and will win this battle.

Winning the war: [Y]our tight anterior hip muscles are stronger than your abdominals.
Sometimes it doesn’t even present as trouble opening hips at the top of the movement. The other relevant concern is when athletes are unable to keep a stable midline during movements. I’ve talked about endurance in these muscles and learning how to activate them, but a big issue here is when you’re trying to fight your tight anterior hips in order to get your midline stable. Try to imagine a tug-of-war and look at the image below to help imagine what’s going on: You start the top of your deadlift with a tight midline as best as you can. We will assume you have great activation and practice so you can maintain the tight midline throughout the entire movement to the ground and back up, until you get to the top of the deadlift where your hips have to open. You squeeze your butt while trying to keep your abdominals tight, but you just can’t seem to finish the movement. As you try to open your hips your anterior hip muscles start to pull your lower back forward into an arch, and you try your best to keep your midline in a good position, but in the end your tight anterior hip muscles are stronger than your abdominals.

anterior_pelvic_tilt1

Trying to activate your abdominals well in this position is impossible.

Tight Ankles>Glutes

Boo tight ankles… hooray mobility! If you run out of ankle mobility (dorsiflexion) as you go down in your squat, the only way you will be able to get to full depth is with the arches of your feet collapsing or by turning your feet out.
Let’s tackle another example to send this point home: knees caving in during a squat. This is a very common problem and really annoying to deal with during a workout (in my opinion). Plenty of athletes try and try to press their knees out during a squat, and it just doesn’t seem to happen. Sometimes it is a strength issue (weak glutes or poor activation), but more often it seems to be a mobility issue. Two areas in particular are stronger than your ability to squat: ankles and hips. If you run out of ankle mobility (dorsiflexion) as you go down in your squat, the only way you will be able to get to full depth is with the arches of your feet collapsing or by turning your feet out. Both of these compensation strategies cause the knees to cave in no matter how hard you try to push them out. Your tight ankles are stronger than your glutes. Now if we look at your hips (internal and external rotation), the same thing can occur: if your hip joint is so tight in either direction, your leg is going to travel the path of least resistance, which is knees caving in. Yep, your tight hips are, again, stronger than your glutes.

Side note #2:  Putting a band around your knees during a squat will help cue your glutes, but it will not fix your mobility issues and will still allow your knees to cave in.

Get at the Source of the Problem

Let me be clear: I cannot emphasize enough the importance of fixing mobility issues first. Stop driving yourself crazy by trying to strengthen your abdominals and glutes, then wondering why they feel strong(er) but you still can’t get into that good position while you WOD. I have tried this already and consequently driven myself crazy until I realized the need to fix the underlying issues. Now I’m singing in my head during the workouts instead of yelling at my body to do things it just can’t do. If you’re experiencing any of the examples above, please come to Mobility so we can help you!

Printable Version

We Are Scouting Top Writers

Are you passionate about fitness and have something to say? Reach a huge online community and get the discussion going - start writing for Tabata Times today!

Share this post
@TabataTimes on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook 

Contribute to this story by commenting below:

Advertise Here

Most Popular of All Time

mindcoach published the post Confidence and High Intensity Performance on Tabata Times
I know we just moved out of ski season, but skiing has so much to teach us about mental strength...
CrossFit Dark Element shared a link on Facebook

http://cfdarkelement.com/whiteboard/

CrossFit Dark Element shared a link on Facebook

http://cfdarkelement.com/daily-wod/

CrossFit Sweatshop posted an article
CrossFit Oakdale shared a link on Facebook

http://cfoakdale.com/2014/07/03/kevins-climb-completed/

Concord CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Welcome some new faces :-) great job tonight Courtney, John and Megan!!!

CrossFit Mill Valley shared an image on Facebook

Worlds colliding to save lives. Juggling for Jude #poweredbymammoth

CrossFit 209 Sport shared a link on Facebook

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=735577119822185&id=163071317072771

CrossFit 209 Sport posted on Facebook

What will you be making for your 4th of July BBQ??? Let's hear it!! https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=410308475776149&substory_index=0&id=271313329675665

CrossFit 209 Sport shared an image on Facebook

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=284606848385040&id=148284738683919 More info on knee pain!!

CrossFit Oakdale posted on Facebook

http://www.playbuzz.com/erikw/what-crossfit-exercise-are-you

CrossFit Envy shared a link on Facebook

Oops, forgot to mention, use the link to sign up and help a brother out :-P.

CrossFit Envy shared a link on Facebook

Hey everyone! Inov-8's, along with Skins and CEP compression gear, and other great gear for CrossFit.

CrossFit Modesto posted on Facebook

Just a little FYI guys, Friday July 4th. Coach Chris will be in at 5:30am for a workout and Coach Billy will be in at 9am as well! These are the only two classes for Friday, so prepare for some fun!

CrossFit Davis shared a link on Facebook

Make Coach Elliot happy and sign up for the Tommy Kono Meet coming up in August! There are sign up sheets at the gym! Talk to Elliot or any other coach for more info!

Tamalpais CrossFit posted on Facebook

July Happenings: Friday July 4th- 8 & 9am Classes only! Sunday July 6th- 9am Swim WOD at COM Kentfield Pool Sunday July 6th- Oly Strong moves to 10:15am on Sundays Tuesday July 8th- 11-11:45am CrossFit Kids starts, 2 spots left, register today! Parents WOD while your kid plays! Saturday July 12th- Crosstown Throwdown TCF vs Santa Rosa Strength and Conditioning – 11:45-2 pm at TCF, sign up on competition board located in SRB- all levels welcome! July 21st- Clarke Holland attends and dominates the CrossFit Games 2014

FTF Fitness posted an article
CrossFit Petaluma posted on Facebook

Schedule for the week of July 4th: Friday, July 4th: 10am class @ CSC only Saturday, July 5th: 10am class @ CSC only Make your way up to CrossFit Sonoma County to pick a Hero workout to complete in honor of Independence Day! The gym will be open from 10am-11:30am. Come in and throw down before a day filled with food, family, and fireworks!

CrossFit 209 Sport posted on Facebook

4th of July hours 8 and 9 AM only!!

bevchildress published the post Do You Struggle With Chronic Disease? on
I live with Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease. I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping it at bay and...
mlsweezey published the post Baby Got Back: My New CrossFit Ass and Other Image Crushing Muscles on
Random Person: “um, do you workout?” Me: “No. This totally happens by accident. Strangest...
CrossFit Modesto shared an image on Facebook

Last nights Pull Up Skill,Clinic was full as can be! We had people get their first Kipping Pull Up, we had others improve their technique, and started others on their way to getting pullups! It was great time yesterday, good work to all those who attended!

CrossFit HEALDSBURG posted on Facebook

Schedule for 4th of July weekend Thursday, July 3rd 6:00am 8:30am 9:30am 12:00pm 5:00pm Friday, July 4th 8:30am 9:30am 12:00pm Saturday, July 5th 9:00am Have a safe and happy 4th!!

South Sacramento CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

24:17 top time for the ladies for Shakira!

South Sacramento CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Mr. Sub 20 Michael! 19:40 score to beat.

American River Crossfit shared a link on Facebook

07/02/2014 http://wp.me/sGeX1-07022014

CrossFit East Sacramento shared a link on Facebook

Today's blog post is up on the CFES Blog - [4th of July Outta The Box WOD @ Guy West]

CrossFit Envy posted on Facebook

Prehab/activation: SMR - low back / erectors 2 min Banded hamstring mobilization 2x10 glute bridges 2x10 supermans -then- 10x2 Banded Speed deadlifts Take a few minutes to find a reasonable work weight for Banded deadlifts. It will be in the 50-70% range of your best Deadlift... But use a weight that allows you to PULL FAST off the floor, and lockout fast, even with the band. Hold each lockout for a 3 count, and deload the bar between reps. Guys use the blue or red band, and girls use red. -then- 4 rounds for time: 400m run 500m row 60 double unders

CrossFit Envy posted on Facebook

Competitors Program Week 6, Day 3: 6x3 Power Cleans from the blocks @ 70-75% (at the knee or slightly above) -then- AMRAP in 10 minutes: (4,8,12...) toes to bar *unbroken 25' handstand walk after each round *if you complete the round of 24, then stop and mark the time -then- 4 rounds for time: 400m run 500m row 60 double unders

mindcoach published the post The Importance of Performance Goals on
I’ve written several posts and articles on the mental strength skill of goal setting, so this...
CrossFit West Petaluma shared a link on Facebook

Red, White, and Blue! http://blog.genesispetaluma.com/?p=2664

CrossFit Folsom Lake shared a link on Facebook

It's a new month! What are you going to do with it? These folks are making it happen! http://t.co/AJV8iYk8OR

CrossFit Davis shared an image on Facebook

June! Another great month at CFD!

Corey's Gym posted an article
CrossFit Petaluma shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit Sacramento posted on Facebook

Attention All Members.....The gym will be open on the 4th of July from 8-10am. There will be 1 class at 8 and open gym at 9. The gym will be closed on Saturday July 5th. Have a great Holiday weekend!

CrossFit Davis shared a link on Facebook

New On Ramp starts tonight! We are running a new schedule now that allows you to start on any Tuesday and attend classes for 4 weeks! For more info visit www.crossfitdavis.com or send an email to info@crossfitdavis.com

CrossFit Echelon posted an article
CrossFit Anywhere shared an image on Facebook

Who hit today's Swim WOD? If you missed it, have no fear. 5:30 and 6:30 classes are heading out soon. Get there!

Good Times CrossFit posted an article
CrossFit Anywhere shared an image on Facebook

There's still time to sign up for the Rowing Clinic with Scott Frandsen on July 12th at 10am. Learn how to row with Power and Efficiency from the Olympian and Rowing Coach. $60 per person. Sign up at the gym.

CrossFit Genesis shared an image on Facebook

paleobutter published the post Paleo Chocolate & Amaretto Macaroons on Nutrition WOD
  Macaroons The legend of how amaretto liquor was first created is (oh man), so Italian...
Jefferson State CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Get your teams together now!

CrossFit Anywhere shared a link on Facebook

Let's Go USA!

North State CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

This Friday for Independence Day! we will be having a 10am Class ONLY with childcare. Wear your red, white, and blue and lets start the day off right!!!

CrossFit Redding posted on Facebook

4th of July CrossFit Redding Schedule: We will be running 3 WOD times 8a, 930a, 11a.

Another Level CrossFit posted on Facebook

For anyone who was wondering if the gym was going to be open on Friday the 4th of July..... We will be holding one 9AM class for anyone who wants to come get there WOD in before all the parties and family time start. =)

CrossFit Anywhere shared an image on Facebook

Swim WOD fun with all the kids this morning!

Another Level CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Make a change in your life today!! Step outside of your normal box and explore something new.

CrossFit Genesis shared a link on Facebook

July 1, 2014 Workout of the Day #workout #crossfit #roseville

Dan Klug published the post Quick and Easy (5-Ingredient) BBQ Sauce on
Finding a relatively “clean” BBQ sauce can often be a more daunting task than the actual...
CrossFit Determination posted on Facebook

Strength: 1a) 4x:40 FLR 1b) 4x 8 pendlay rows WOD: 10-1 reps of Pull ups Power cleans

American River Crossfit posted on Facebook

CORRECTION: Special Hours on Friday, July 4th. 8am Group Class 9am Open Gym

CrossFit Campbell shared a link on Facebook

My fitbit #Fitstats for 6/30/2014: 25,136 steps and 11.2 miles traveled. http://t.co/lGgXoqQWii

CrossFit Campbell shared a link on Facebook

If you're always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you're in? #crossfitcampbell http://t.co/kxFRncZPR7

CrossFit Feather River posted on Facebook

Tuesday Class Schedule ~ > Endurance WOD @ 5:30am, 9am, 4:30pm & 6:30pm > Barbell Club @ 8am & 5:30pm Daycare Hours: 8am-10am & 5:30pm-7:30pm *All of our Tuesday Endurance WOD classes are FREE during the month of July!

emmagatman published the post How CrossFit Causes Injuries on
There’s a worrying trend among CrossFit participants, one that consists of frequent visits to the...
CrossFit CSA posted on Facebook

Strength: (20 minutes; 2-3 to a bar) Klokov Clean Complex * work up to a heavy set of the following complex, and please be certain to perform complex UNBROKEN: - 2X CLEAN PULLS -1X SQUAT CLEAN (hold in bottom of squat for 2 seconds) -1X PUSH PRESS (hold in arc position 2 seconds) -1x PUSH JERK WOD: 3 rounds Run 400m 30 WallBalls 20 MedBall Cleans (full hip extension and full squat every rep!)

CrossFit Valley View shared a link on Facebook

@TabataTimes on Twitter

Watch the latest episode of GPTV