We’ve looked at the ‘Ready to Run’ standards of neutral feet, flat shoes, a flexible thoracic spine and an effective squatting technique over the past two days.
Today it’s all about the hips.
Standard #5: Hip Flexion
The group of muscles that make up the ‘Hip Complex’ are umm… complex. Just look at the diagram:
But while other muscles get more attention, these muscles can cause many, many problems. If you sit for hours a day you probably have issues with the proper functioning of your hip flexors — I know I do.
The first standard here is to do with hip flexion. When we sit our hips are in a state of flexion —but at 80–90 degrees, not enough to meet the standard of 120 degrees.
The hip flexion test:
- Stand with braced neutral spine and feet apart
- Pull one knee to your chest
- Drop your hands to your side and hold for 30 seconds
- Change legs
This is also a test of balance which can be ramped up by closing your eyes.
Standard #6: Hip Extension
The previous standard posed no problem for me but extension is another story.
The hip flexors of most people who spend most of the day sitting will be as tight as piano wire. This tension restricts natural running cadence and interferes with muscular coordination and stability.
There’s no test for this standard but Kelly Starret offers a ‘weapons-grade’ technique for opening up the hip and improving hip extension.
It’s called ‘The Couch Stretch’ and he recommends it as part of your maintenance
There’s tonnes of mobility exercises in ‘Ready to Run’ but the book’s co-author, T.J Murphy, calls the couch stretch the best of them all.
Here’s Kelly Starret describing it:
Doing this exercise daily and having regular breaks from sitting will go a long way to bringing the hip flexors back in line.