In past posts, we have looked at a range of exercises that can improve the development of your game as well as reducing the chances of injury. The key areas we have looked at are;
In this post, we are going to look at Hip Mobility.
Hip Mobility in tennis is crucial in improving performance in both shot production and movement. Tennis is a sport which places a lot of strain on a developing body and it is important for junior players to start their development early. But hip mobility doesn’t just affect tennis players, it will affect all tennis players and all people in everyday life.
The following is a video to help start developing and improving hip mobility. For more information regarding hip mobility or to sign up for a free session with the team at Eat Play Thrive
Below is a great article from Mark’s Daily Apple on Hip Mobility.
Our joints, limbs, and muscles represent a collective of individual pieces, all working together to move the body, manipulate objects, and propel us through three dimensional space. Mobility in all areas is crucial, but it helps to consider them in segments. After all, different people will have different levels of mobility in different areas of the body. Perhaps the most common mobility deficiency resides in the hips. In my own case, it was a lack of hip mobility that was the proximate cause of my downfall as a runner/triathlete. I basically “seized up” after fifteen years of overuse in a very limited plane of movement.
People have forgotten (or don’t know) how to use their hips the way evolution designed them to be used. Instead of sitting back with their hips to pick something up, followed by a hip extension (thrust forward) to bring it up, they’ll bend at the waist and lift with the lower back. Picking up a potted plant? You can get away with poor hip mobility – for a while. Picking up a weighted barbell, a child or a bag of peat moss with poor hip mobility using your lower back? That’s an injury waiting to happen.
We sit too much. I know I do, and it’s especially bad to do so right after working out (yet I still do it sometimes). Sitting impacts hip mobility in two major ways: it weakens the glutes and it shortens the hip flexors. Both your glutes and your hip flexors figure prominently in the activation of your hips, so when they’re weak and/or inactive, the lower back takes over. Now, the lower back, or the lumbar spine, isn’t designed for a ton of activity. It’s mainly there to provide support and stability. It’s the core, after all. But with poor hip mobility brought on by excessive sitting and a weak posterior chain, your hip extension is no longer sufficient, and in comes the lower back. That potted plant is beginning to look a little heavier, eh? And that’s not even mentioning the barbell.
It’s a shame, because our hips are obviously designed to generate a ton of power. The ligaments, the tendons, the musculature, and the bones in that region are all dense, hardy, and robust – they’re made for activity and mobility – but too many people are selling their hips short. And when that happens, the other joints and muscles (like knees or lumbar spines) have to pick up the slack. It’s an adaptive mechanism that perhaps any multi-limbed animal possesses: the quick substitution for an injured limb/joint by an adjacent one. It’s not meant to be a lasting solution, though. We’re not meant to limp through life using one joint to do another’s prescribed task. It just doesn’t work, and it’s exactly why most people lift with their backs instead of their hips and then complain about back or knee pain.
Restoring hip mobility will help in several areas. It should reduce or eliminate lower back and/or knee pain stemming from overcompensation. It should improve your power output by allowing you to fully engage your posterior chain in training exercises like squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and any of the Olympic lifts, while making them safer. It should improve the strength and power of your hip extension, extremely vital for performance of the aforementioned lifts, but also for vertical leaps, sprinting, and any basic explosive movement. It will improve your rotational strength; instead of rotating with the lumbar spine (a huge no-no), you’ll generate power with the hips – perfect for throwing a good punch, swinging a golf club, or tossing a big rock at prey. It’ll improve speed, especially sprinting speed.
Most of all, hip mobility will improve your relationship with the rest of your body. Because the hips are the most common sites of poor mobility, many people are walking around with dysfunctions borne of overcompensation. Fixing hip mobility won’t fix everything, but it will eliminate a major stressor on your system as a whole and allow you to focus on the smaller, but no less important, sites and joints.