Often sports performance can be blamed on poor technique. But technique can be a limitation of movement quality. The hip is an important part in the kinetic chain and reduced hip mobility or stability can affect your movement and can also be the cause of other problems like knee or back pain. In the adult population thoughts are that poor mobility has come on from prolonged sitting in chairs and lack of squatting movements although in some countries the ability to complete a full squat in adulthood has been maintained. The muscles that are talked about a lot affecting hip movement are tight hip flexors and weak glute muscles and often you will see exercises to work these areas but this is only part of the full picture.
With reduced hip mobility your posture can be affected, as well as stride length in running, rotational ability in sporting movements such as golf or martial arts, power development, strength and speed development, and changes in functional movement to name but a few.
Achieving your potential in sport takes effort, and spending more time practising your sport technique without realising an underlying movement issue may not improve your performance. The first thing to do is to assess your hip mobility; it could be that one hip is working better than the other hip.
The assessment can use both static and active movements including testing static and dynamic balance, stability and overall movement. Tools used for improving hip function include: – stretching, using foam rollers and bands, massage, kettlebells, dynamic movement skills, balance drills, and explosive movements. If a restriction in hip function has been tested then putting a program together outside the sports training would of course be beneficial.
For some improving hip mobility and stability will make a great improvement but for others there is still a need to be considered and that is your movement pattern.
Gaining control of movement
Gaining hip mobility and stability in the surrounding muscles through isolated exercises will certainly give you more freedom of movement. But if you have been playing your sport for a while with restrictions in hip function you will have developed ingrained movement patterns. These can often cause you to move the same way you have always done as this is the way your neurological system has been programmed. With the extra movement around the hip you now have to re-program your movement skills to improve your sport skill.
In reality unless you have desperately reduced hip motion, mobility and stability and movement skills are worked at the same time, to keep the body in balance.
In this first video clip you will see how the runner is affected with little hip extension affecting running technique
In this next video clip you will see how elite runners have a good hip motion with leg extension behind them.
The next video clip shows how to generate power in a punch, you will see from this demonstration that not only do you have to get rotation in the hips but the whole body is used into the punch, timing and co-ordination, rhythm are also key in getting the movements synchronised.
Co-ordination, dynamic balance, explosiveness, rhythm can be trained with dynamic movement skills which are some of the key components of improving movement that get neglected after restoring hip mobility.
Hope this helps