So I’m sure you’ve had those days where you walk into the weight room knowing it’s squat day and you feel tight as hell and realize that you need to work to mobilize your hips, knees, and ankles. After 8 hours of a stressful workday, a long commute in the car, and too much Netflix in the evening it’s easy to fall into the trap of getting that all too common hip, knee, and ankle immobility that can train wreck your squat day.
Mobilize Your Hips, Knees, And Ankles
Immobility is a common issue today that can absolutely wreak havoc on your body. As a general rule of thumb I typically see the majority of immobility deriving from the hips and shoulders. Since we’re taking aim at your lower body for the purpose of today’s discussion I want to focus on your hips first then look at correcting the knees and ankles next.
As the joint by joint approach states if you have immobility in a mobile joint (such as your hips and shoulders) you can have instability in a neighboring stable joint. So as an example if you have tight hips your lack of mobility may cause a compensatory response in your low back (neighboring stable joint) when you go to squat, deadlift, or execute any drill that should be dependent on your hips support the movement.
If there is immobility of your hips in this example then the stress of the movement is placed on your low back which may cause an unwanted injury. This is why mobility is crucial to performance. The joint by joint approach is essential to your function and ability to your ability to perform.
Taking Aim At The Solution
The key to avoiding any compensatory response is making sure your hips, knees, and ankles are functioning up to normal capacity. To resolve this issue I’ve come up with a few exercises to help you prime these joints prior to you tackling your squats or your deadlifts for the day.
Assisted Kettlebell Saddle Stretch: The saddle stretch is a fairly simple stretch in terms of understanding. Once again, don’t confuse simple with being easy. These are not the same. What I mean is simple in understanding, but challenging in its execution.
As you can see to perform this drill you just simply want to sit on the ground and spread your legs away from the midline of your body like a “V”. When performing this I want you to focus on doing so by maintaining good posture throughout your torso. Work to maintain good posture at the shoulders as you lean forward to pry your hips at your groin.
In addition to keeping your legs straight push your knees flat into the ground while dorsoflexing your ankle (imagine pulling your foot off the gas pedal type of movement) to point your toes to the sky. To add to the intensity use the resistance from the kettlebell to further pry your hips open as you lean forward with your chest to get into the stretch. The kettlebell adds an awesome passive resistance to help you get a deeper stretch.
Dynamic Spiderman Stretch: This exercise is great for getting your blood moving while also enabling you to get some dynamic movement into your training session prior to the meat and potatoes of your training.
As you can see in the video I’m focusing predominately on prying my hip flexors and groin region. Once again this area tends to be more restricted with many people due to the given lifestyle factors associated with a lack of movement and activation of the muscles in this area of the body. The spiderman stretch is a great option for getting the body ready for hinging and freeing up the hips to pry open in exercises such as squat movements.
Ankle And Knee Primer: The set up for this particular stretch resembles the spiderman stretch in some ways, but as you’ll notice in the video it is distinctly different with the focus being more on the ankles, knees, glutes, and hamstrings.
The to key to this one is that once you’re in position you will want to work on allowing your knee to float over the toes a bit while keeping your foot on the ground. Once again, this allows you to pry the ankle and knee to get them mobile for maximizing your ROM. As I pointed out in the video you can work to make this more dynamic by moving back and forth as you pry at the ankle and knee.
Depending on how restricted your ankle and knee mobility are in this position I would recommend performing this drill for about 2 minutes on each side. After some consistent effort you’ll notice the ankles will start to free up and that you will fill a drastic difference when you go to squat, or perform any other hinging movement for that matter.
The Takeaway: Mobilizing Your Hips, Knees, And Ankles
The point here is that you want to make sure to take the time to prime and mobilize your hips, knees, and ankles in a way to enhance your mobility prior to engaging in any extensive activity involving you having to hinge at the hips. There is more than one way to skin a cat, but these are 3 solid starting points to help you out if you’re feeling inhibition in your lower body joints.
What type of movement preparation are you currently including into your workouts prior to your own training?
Do you have tight hips, knees, and ankles?
Post up and share here in the comment section below.
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