I woke up this morning at 4am with but a singular thought in my mind: “I need to write a new article”. So I did.
Your posture is horrible.
I am talking to every man, woman, and child that spends time behind a desk, watching TV, traveling on airplanes, taking taxis, pushing shopping carts, and ‘running’. You let you shoulders slump forward and you spine round, you let your feet turn out when you walk, and you never stretch your hips. Your muscles are lethargic and have stopped working for you. Probably becuase they don’t respect you anymore.
Gone are the days when you could go out for a 30 yard pass without being winded or having some mysterious low back pain, and unless you stop what you’re doing right now and fix yourself, you’ll never get them back.
The thing I want to focus on right now is the hip flexor complex. Why yours sucks, and what you need to do to make it better.
First of all, a quiz.
1) Does your low back hurt?
2) Do you ever feel your hips ‘pop’ or crack?
3)Is running extremely difficult for you?
4) Do your knees ever bother you when you’re going up or down stairs?
If you answered yes to 2 or more of these, I can almost guarantee that there is a muscular problem with your hip flexors. This is the muscle that you use to bring your knee to your chest. Since I know you’re sitting right now, grab the highest point on one of your thighs with your palm facing down, your fingers on the outside of your leg, and your thumb on the inside. Now lift your leg off the floor. That’s the group of muscles we’re talking about.
One of the many muscles responsible for the movement you just did is called the iliopsoas, but since you don’t care what it’s called, and just want to feel and move better, you can call it Tom if you like. I don’t care.
Tom is kinda neat, because he attaches to the front of your pelvis, (i.e. the place you just felt) and goes from the front of your body to the back, and attaches to the first five spine joints of your spine. Here’s how that looks.
So, it’s unique placement in your body has two major effects. First of all, when it gets tight it pulls on your low back, which is why roughly 80% of people in the US at some point complain of low back pain. Ta Da! If your muscles worked, you would never need surgery!
Secondly, by being seated all the time, and when you are walking, not carrying yourself with good posture, you let that muscle go for a long time without lengthening. If Tom was a moderately handsome guy that had been hanging out with you for a while, taking you to movies, and treating you like a lady, this is akin to telling him that you don’t want to ruin your ‘friendship’, and that’s why you wont date him. So, Tom extracts his revenge on you by making everything hurt.
Ready for the good part?
Find a foam roller ($25), a lacrosse ball/baseball ($5-12), or a pipe (Included with every purchase of Clue…).
Lay on your stomach, find those muscles that you found earlier, and put the instrument of torment underneath them, essentially so it’s pressing on those muscles. Now roll around on that muscle until you find a spot that really hurts. Now stay there for a while. 20 seconds on each painful spot. You should roll from the top of your hip bone to 3/4ths of the way down your thigh. Don’t forget to go side to side either. You never know how much fun you’re missing out on if you don’t roll correctly.
Just a thought… If you’re doing the aforementioned activity, and it does not feel like Voldemort himself is destroying the inter workings of your hips and stomach with his wand of pain, you’re not doing it right.
Done with that? Good.
Now, get up and stretch. Stand between two tables, chairs, large dogs or children, (something that you can use to hold yourself up.) and spread your legs apart, front to back. Your front leg should be on the heel, your back leg on the toe. Continue to go deeper until you feel a good stretch. Now hold for 30 seconds.
Do it again
Now that you’ve stretched both sides 3 times, it’s time for a little activation, because not only are you tight, you’re also weak. Fix it.
Stand up, put your foot on a chair or stool so that your thigh is almost parallel with the ground. If you look anything like a triumphant action hero, you’re doing it right. (Hands on hips for added emphasis) Now, pick your foot up off the chair, hold it for 3 seconds in the air, and put it back down. The range of motion for this movement should be between 2 and 5 inches. It’s very small. Do that 20 times each leg. Then do it again.
I’ve had clients feel almost 100% better after doing this for only a week. But just like anything else, it doesn’t work if you don’t do it. Also, good news. If you’re in the Scottsdale area, and you’re have some pain like this that doesn’t subside after a week of stretching, or you’re just afraid to do it yourself, I’m currently accepting new clients.