It’s amazing how much we think we know our bodies and what is best for it.
When it comes to stretching and mobility we get it wrong… A LOT.
Have you ever had a massage or gone to a yoga class to stretch out those ‘tight’, painful spots, but still find yourself in discomfort? If you answered yes, then you could actually be making the problem worse.
Let me explain by using our hips as an example.
Many clients I have trained over the years have had something in common… a pelvic anterior tilt. This is where the hip tilts forward and your lower back is hollow (lumbar lordosis).
This may make the back of the upper legs (glutes/hamstrings) feel like they need a good stretch. A lot of the time they don’t. The hip is positioned in a way that makes the glutes/hamstrings feel tight. The truth is they are probably long and weak. The tight areas are likely to be the opposing muscle groups at the front of the upper legs (hip flexors/quadriceps).
The pelvic anterior tilt can also cause lower back pain. Many people will try to resolve the issue by stretching their lower back or foam rolling (myofascial release). DO NOT DO THIS!!!
Concentrate on the middle of the back (thoracic spine). The thoracic spine can lose a lot of its mobility and feel restricted. This causes the cervical spine (upper back) and lumbar spine (lower back) to overwork, resulting in many aches and pains.
If your thoracic spine has poor mobility you may find overhead exercises quite difficult. It is always wise to perform some thoracic stretches/exercises before performing overhead lifts. The aim is to improve thoracic extension.
Whilst training always think about the positioning of your body.
As we are using the hip as an example I’m going to mention two exercises in which the hip is positioned differently.
When performing a deadlift you may find that your hip has an anterior tilt. It’s wise to keep your chest high, maintain a flat back and lift through your legs (imagine driving the floor away from you).
Deadlifting is one of the oldest and scariest exercises around. The truth is, if done correctly, there is nothing to worry about.
When performing dragonflies your hip will have a posterior tilt. This will protect your lower back and give you a stronger contraction through the abs (squeeze your backside throughout).
This is one of my favourite core exercises. I can thank the Rocky 4 training montage for this one. NO PAIN, NO PAIN, NO PAIN, NO PAIN!!!
If we were to perform the deadlift with a posterior tilt and dragonflies with an anterior tilt, we would most probably find ourselves on the treatment table and in severe pain.
It is wise to educate ourselves on how to perform certain exercises and stretches. In my opinion, the hip is a great place to start.
A strong, stable pelvis should be a goal for all of us. It can help with great posture and save us from unnecessary pain in our legs and back.
As Shakira once said… Hips don’t lie!