Every time an athlete has some aches and pains they always seem to ask, “Hey Kyle, do you have any stretches for (insert muscle here)? It’s almost always a muscle or body part that should not be stretched, and I have to explain to the athlete why that might not be a good idea.
I became Head Trainer at Redline in 2013 and since then I’ve done 100’s of assessments. I categorize athletes in two groups, either stiff and is lacking mobility or hypermobile and has instability. A large portion if not most are hypermobile and are severely lacking stability, but these athletes are usually the ones that feel the most “tight.” They show up for their assessment and tell me how tight their hamstrings, low back and hips are only to pass every range of motion test with flying colors.
The joint by joint approach, popularized by Gray Cook and Mike Boyle can give us a good indication on why this happens. This approach is the idea that the body is a stack of joints each with a specific function and particular training needs. The first thing that you should notice is the joints alternate between mobility and stability.
Hypermobility can be just as problematic as having a lack of mobility. These athletes have so much instability that the body will receive it as a threat and create protective tension surrounding the joint. In other words, if you lack control of your lumbar spine your hips, hamstrings, and low back tighten up to try and provide stability.
Take the hips for example. If you just look at the anatomy of the hip it’s a ball and socket joint with great range of motion and there’s no reason it should be restricted. But, if you’re a person with an excessive amount of lumbar extension and anterior pelvic tilt your hips may not move the way we want them to.
Your Lumbar spine needs to be stable, and if you have a soft core that’s not doing its job it will look elsewhere to provide that stability. Yes, your chronically tight hamstrings are actually there to help and give your pelvis some posterior tilt so stop stretching them!
A lot of times these people end up doing tons and tons of stretching, yoga, and hip mobility drills, but the issue is never fixed, their hamstrings are still tight, and they still can’t move their hips. The muscles will always remain tight or get even tighter after stretching if stability isn’t improved first.
If you’re a person that’s spent years stretching tight hips and hamstrings with no real improvement you’d be better off working on core stability and controlling ranges of motion. If tight muscles were the actual issue you would have seen improvement.
Core training (anti-extension, Anti-rotation, & anti-lateral flexion) such as planks, dead bugs, pallof presses will stimulate the muscles surrounding your spine to provide stabilization, reset your core and allow the hips to move properly. Give this a try instead of performing a list of stretches and hip mobility drills that won’t actually fix the problem.
Don’t believe me? Watch the two videos below from Tony Gentilcore and Dean Somerset. It works like Magic.
If you’re too lazy to watch an 11 minute video skip to the 4 minute mark to see when he starts assessing her hips.