Why is hip mobility important for squats and deadlifts?

Jun 13, 2022

Have you ever considered the importance of your hip movement when it comes to supporting you with squats and deadlifts? In the tutorial above I shine a light on exactly why it’s important to undertake some hip mobility exercises and some of the things you should be doing to get those hips in the best possible shape for squatting and deadlifting.

Why are hip mobility exercises important?

There are several reasons why it’s important to focus on hip mobility exercises if you want to improve your squats and deadlifts and reduce the risk of injury.

  1.  Hip mobility gives us a margin of error for pain and injury

When we move ineffectively, or put our joints into a sub-optimal position, we create stress, which can lead to stiffness, aches and even pain. It could be that we are unsure how to move safely in a particular way, or it might be we’re unable to move in a way that protects the joint due to tightness or lack of function.

If we’re trying to lift a deadweight from the floor, for example, we need our hips to be working at full potential to help us. If we can’t get down effectively enough at the hips, we might have to round the lower back, putting tension on the spine, or we might find our knees collapse in, creating stress on the inside of them. By improving the function and mobility of the hips we can reduce this stress by distributing it evenly across the whole area.

The upside of this too, is that if on the odd occasion we do move awkwardly one time by accident, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. We’ve effectively created a buffer! 

The problem comes if we let these little issues in position creep in without correcting them whenever we’re training. Incorrect positioning over time can lead to micro-injuries or micro-traumas in muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. Unsurprisingly these gradually build up and create bigger problems. These small errors mount up and hit a tipping point after which injury occurs. Up until that point we might notice the aches and pains, but do we recognise them as warning signs? The good news is that building up and strengthening the hips will get rid of those problems altogether.

  1.  Hip mobility helps control what the knees are doing

During heavy lifting or just squatting in general the knees can collapse in – it’s a pretty common problem if you’re fatiguing yourself by doing too many reps or adding too much weight. Strengthening the muscles of the hip, though, can prevent this happening. Without adequate control in that area we can’t maintain function through the hip and the muscles can pull us into the wrong position. 

  1.  Understanding hip extension and flexion can help pinpoint where work needs to be done

Understanding the movement of the hips is vital to improving strength and stability. The hip is capable of numerous types of movement - external rotation, internal rotation, flexion etc. The key is to understand which one we’re lacking in. Do we have good hip flexion but poor external rotation for example. This can create a stiffness that may feel like it is stabilising us, but it is kind of an artificial stability. If we can unwind this tightness and get the proper rotation in place this will allow the hips to work as they should.

And if we understand exactly where the stiffness is occurring it gives a good idea of the area we need to focus on.

So how can we improve our hips?

There are plenty of simple ways to work on the hips on your own and with minimal equipment. Start with a quick workout with a foam roller to get the hip’s internal and external rotation working better. The first step is to come down onto your side and use the roller between the top of the femur and the iliac crest, simply rocking back and forwards in position. If you’re quite tight you’ll find this particularly effective. The aim is to get the muscle hydrated and moving. Continue for a minute or two.

Tune into the video tutorial above for a demonstration as well as more detail about the muscles we’ll be working on. I also demonstrate a couple more simple stretches to build up your external and internal rotation. 

If you need particular help in the area of hip mobility I provide a 2-hour hip mobility programme in person in the UK. We’ll talk about goals, I’ll take you through some movements and exercises and then I’ll pull together a tailored hip mobility programme for you. Want more information? Click Here

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