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)




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One thought on “Open Those Hips!

  1. […] about the hips, how to open them up and what proper hip function looks like. Yesterday we posted Open Those Hips! giving you some tools to get moving again. Here is a deeper explination into the […]