Hip Mobility and Performance Pain in the Gym

The hip joint is the largest weight-bearing joint in the human body consisting of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It is the junction where the hip joins the leg to the trunk of the body, and it is extremely complex consisting of over 15 muscles that must work in tandem to allow for full range of motion. The major muscles used in our hips are the psoas (hip flexors) and glutes.

Weakness or imbalances in these muscles will limit mobility which in turn could be the cause of pain in the hips, low back, and/or knees.

Test your Hip Flexion

Hip mobility varies from person to person and is normally dependent on training style, occupation, previous injuries, and lifestyle. For example, a person who trains once a day for an hour but works in a job that forces them to sit for long durations is more likely to have less range at the hip than someone who trains once a day and is active as part of their job role. The reason for this is simple: sitting shortens the hip flexors and weakens the gluteal muscles which are two massive contributors to hip mobility.

A lack of hip mobility will have a massive impact on a person’s ability to move efficiently in the gym and normally is a main contributor to pain. To understand your current range of motion, take the Supine Hip Flexion Test below.

To pass this test:

✔️ Thigh touches ribcage

✔️ Opposite leg does not drag or move

✔️ Only slight pressure felt on hand under lower back

✔️ Same range of motion of both sides

✔️ Pain free - no pain or pinching

How does hip mobility really impact gym performance?

Well, when an individual lacks hip mobility their overall movement is affected. This as a result will mean they will execute certain lifts to a sub-optimal standard and place strain through muscles that are compensating for the poor movement.

For example, 'James' gets a build-up of tension in his lower back when performing Back Squats. When James performs a back squat, he could hold good positions at parallel. However, when he moved past parallel, he would present a forward lean of the chest to compensate which in turn, would switch the load from his hamstrings, glutes, and quads to his lower back leading to this build-up of tension in this region. When James completed the hip flexion movement assessment above, the results shows that he lacked the necessary mobility at the joint to allow him to achieve optimal squat depth.

So, what is the solution? Firstly, you want to understand the limitation which you have so action can be taken to improve your movement patterns and stay pain free when training. To do this we suggest completing the Chalk Movement Assessments give you a clear understanding of where your limitation is.

Once the limitation has been identified, whether it's hips, knees or ankles, we recommend that you complete our tailored programs which will give you 3 sessions per week dedicated to improving your mobility. Movement is intertwined into your DNA. It's time to reclaim it.