Guest Post – Open Those Hips! from CrossFit Invictus

Workout of the Day for Wednesday June 19, 2013

In 12 minutes, work up to the heaviest complex of:
Power Clean + Pause Front Squat + Jerk

As many rounds as possible in 10 minutes of:
15 Box Jumps, 24/20 in
10 Hang Power Snatch, 115/75 lbs

I copied this from CrossFit Invictus – it’s really good.

Open those hips!

Open Those Hips!
Written by Intern Zach Erick

We shake them on the dance floor, we rest children on them, and some people are even trying to lose them. They’re your hips, or as Coach Tino calls them, your “haps”, and their proper functioning is imperative to becoming a better athlete. The hips are formed by three different bones – the ilium, ischium, and the pubis. Over a dozen different muscles are attached to the three bones that make up your hips. These are muscles that we stress every day as CrossFit athletes; are you taking care of them?

Sitting all day causes the hip flexors to contract and become tight, making full hip extension difficult or painful. In the gym, how many times have you heard your coach tell you to open or pop your hips? Probably every time you squat, deadlift, clean, snatch, or anything that involves a kipping motion. If you try to complete these movements with tight hips, chances are your form during the movement is going to suffer and could possibly lead to injury. Case in point, NBA All-Star David Lee of the Golden State Warriors and his torn hip flexor. But poor mechanics are also going to lead to less weight on the bar, fewer unbroken reps and poor range of motion. In the end, you are not taking advantage of your body’s full potential.

We need to “open” our hips before working out. I know we all love rolling around on foam rollers, socializing as we move back and forth over those nice soft plastic tubes – but this is not enough. You need to dig in there! Grab a softball, lacrosse ball, kettlebell, 45lb plate – anything that’s going to put you in some pain. (Good pain of course!) A great way to open your hips and loosen up the iliacus and psoas is trigger point therapy. Trigger point therapy is a method of alleviating pain in tender spots of your muscles and other various tissues by applying direct pressure with the array of myofascial release tools in the gym. Here are my three favorite mobility exercises out of Kelly Starett’s new book “Becoming A Supple Leopard” that will allow for better hip extension.

And if you don’t already have a copy of Becoming a Supple Leopard (“BASL”), you can pick one up the next time you’re at Invictus!

Lacrosse ball psoas smash (BASL, pg. 295, link to online demo)

1) Lay down on the LAX ball positioned just to the left or right of your belly button

2) Find a tight spot- move up and down, left and right over the area. Also keep the ball in the tight area take a big breath in and slowly exhale completely.

psoas1   psoas2

Couch Stretch (BASL, pg. 331-334, link to online demo)

1) Back your feet up to a wall

2) Place your knee in the corner of where the floor meets the wall with the opposite leg parallel to the wall with a 90 degree angle from your ankle to your knee

3) Begin to sit upright opening the hips (maintaining good posture)




Side Hip smash (BASL, pg. 303)

1) Position the ball outside the top of your glute just under the hipbone

2) Keep the leg against the floor relaxed

3) Roll in every which direction as well as finding that tight spot and just relaxing on the ball breathing through the pain.

hip1 hip2

Comments 1

  1. Some Tips from Dan Panella:

    For those of us who like to geek out on anatomy here is my cliff notes version:

    • There is no hip bone. but there is a very important “hip joint”. This is created by the Pelvis and Femur together. So, in order to get HIP extension the femur has to go into extension or backwards lengthening the anterior hip. So, when someone refers to your hip they mean the pelvis and femur together, not your ilium, ishium, and pubis.

    Also, your hip flexor is two muscles of the torso. The Psoas (major and minor) and the Iliacus muscles come together to create one large muscle and have a common insertion site on the femur. The iliopsoas is the primary hip flexor. The ½ kneel hip flexor stretch or K.Starr’s couch stretch is great for this.

    • If you sit all day your hip flexors get tight because you are keeping them in a passive shortened state on a prolonged and regular basis. The important thing is how to reduce the tightness and increase the length-tension ratio. Actively and Passively Stretching on a regular basis is the trick to prevent tight anterior hips.

    • “Trigger point therapy is a method of alleviating pain in tender spots of your muscles and other various tissues by applying direct pressure with the array of myofascial release tools in the gym. “
    This is correct, but you need to be able to get directly on the muscle belly. Be VERY careful with tissue smashing. I personally would want a very experienced set of hands working their way through these vital tissues to find the muscle versus a 45lb weight or kettle bell mashing everything.

    As for the Iliacus, you’re not going to reach it with a ball, kettle bell or weight.

    Side Hip Smash:
    -This is a good for your glut med or TFL (muscle called tensor of the fascia lata which turns into your IT band)), but unfortunately it won’t help with hip extension. Great for lateral thigh and lateral knee pain.

    Couch Stretch:
    -Great quad and hip flexor stretch!! Do this one, but remember to tuck your pelvis and keep your torso upright. If you are bent forward you won’t be stretching your hip flexor (Iliopsoas).

    Feel free to find me and ask for clarity if I confused you.

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