Common power lifts such as the squat or deadlift, Olympic style lifts, and even the lunge primarily strengthen the hip extensors or your “posterior chain”. Strengthening the posterior chain has gained popularity over the years in the strength and conditioning realm because a strong posterior chain is necessary for athletic movements such as sprinting, jumping, and explosive power. Because these lifts are the primary foundations for most strength and conditioning programs, the other movements of the hip have fallen to the way side.
The human hip moves in three plans of motion. The sagittal plane allows for hip flexion and extension, the frontal plane which allows for hip abduction and adduction, and the transverse plane which allows for hip internal and external rotation. Having a solid foundation in all three planes is necessary in order to stabilize the pelvis, provide a strong foundation for all lower extremity movements, and decrease risk of injury.
Examples of these movements below and in one of our videos:
1- side lying IR/ER (30s each side) - Hip Internal/External Rotation
2- Squat with thoracic rotation - Hip Flexion
3- inch worms - Hip Flexion/Extension
4- Frog rock backs - Hip Abduction
Weakness or imbalances in the hips can lead to issues up stream or down-stream in the kinetic chain. An imbalance between hip flexors and hip extensors can pull your pelvis into an anterior pelvic tilt or a posterior pelvic tilt, placing strain on the lumbar spine. Back pain? Check your hips. Weak gluteus medius as well as other weak hip external rotators can lead to IT band friction syndrome, patella tracking issues, and an increase risk for ACL injury due to an increased valgus force placed at the knee during closed chain movements. Knee pain? Check your hips. Increased valgus force at the knee due to weak hips can lead to a poor foot strike or over pronation at the ankle possibility leading to ankle pain. Ankle pain? Check your hips.
With that being said, not all lower extremity issues are caused by weak hips, but it’s a good place to start. If you’re looking for some added hip accessory work, check out our 6 week hip stability program. The program is broken down into single leg focus, double leg focus, and balance/agility. Stop neglecting the less popular hip muscles and start feeling better and PRing lifts! Your body will thank you!
Written by: Faith Farley one of our Individual Design 1on1 coaches and programmer of the upper/lower body Mobility/Stability programs. If you are interested in doing one of our mobility or stability programs then click the SIGN UP button above or if you are interested in working with Faith 1on1 please fill out this request HERE
Faith Farley -Doctorate of Physical Therapy, B.S. Exercise Sports Science