Hip Stability

written by Dr. Jackie Ruggiero DPT

How to Improve Hip Stability in a Deep Squat:

Hi guys! Last week we talked about how to improve hip mobility for athletes anterior “pinching” hip pain, or
hip impingement, during a deep squat. Now that we have the skills to improve hip mobility, lets discuss ways you can stabilize the hip for better controlled movements. 

There are a few key muscles in the back of our legs and lower back that need to be engaged properly during a squat: the glutes, hamstrings, and spinal extensors. These muscles are grouped together as the
“posterior chain”. The glutes are a group of 3 muscles, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus, which main purpose are to perform hip extension, as well as hip abduction (glute med). The hamstrings act as a secondary hip extensor to support the glutes, as well as a knee stabilizer in the bottom of the squat. Lastly, the spinal extensors, or erector spinae, play an important role in keeping the spine rigid and extended so you do not fall forward during the squat. Improving the stability of the posterior and lateral hip with these exercises can decrease the rotation of the head of the femur in the hip socket and improve pain associated with hip impingement.

Posterior Chain Activation:

The muscles of the posterior chain are often inhibited in athletes who are more powerful in their hip flexors and quads, leading to compensation in the anterior hip. A few exercises to activate the posterior chain are single leg RDLs, unilateral hip abduction (fire hydrants), hip thrusters, banded glute bridges, and resisted isometric hip flexion.

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift (RDL):

Stand on your right leg while holding a kettlebell in your left hand. While keeping your spine in alignment, bend at the waist until the kettlebell reaches mid-shin on the standing leg. Your left leg should simultaneously extend backwards as your chest moves toward the floor. Finally, drive your hips forward by pushing through your heel to maintain neutral standing position. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions on both legs. 

Fire Hydrants:

Put a resistance band around your ankles while standing with your hips backward and chest forward. While standing on your right leg, kick your left leg out to the side, slow and controlled. Focus on stability of the standing leg to make sure it does not buckle. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions on both legs.

Hip Thrusters:

Lie your upper back on top of a bench, just below your shoulder blades, with your feet firmly on the ground. Start with your knees bent and your hips in a flexed position. Squeeze your glutes by pressing through your heels to drive your hips up, so that your shoulders, hips, and knees form a straight line. Hold this position for a few seconds and slowly go back to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions with a 2-3 second hold.

Banded Glute Bridges:

Start by lying on the floor with a band around your knees and your feet firmly on the floor. Press down through your heels to extend your hips toward the ceiling while pushing your knees out against the resistance band. To progress this exercise, lift your left leg in the air to perform single leg bridges, while still pushing out against the resistance band. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions on both legs.

Resisted Isometric Hip Flexion:

Start by lying in a table-top position with a resistance band around your feet. Brace your stomach to initiate an abdominal contraction to maintain good spinal alignment. With both knees bent, bring your right knee toward chest, while keeping your left leg in a 90/90 position. Alternate left and right leg marching with a 3 second hold. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions on both legs.

I hope I was able to provide you with some tools to improve your hip mobility and stability, as well as decrease your anterior hip pain.

Happy squatting!  

Keep on moving, 

Dr. Jacqueline Ruggiero, PT, DPT


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