I wanted to follow up the blog post about the prone hip extension assessment with some follow up posts to give some examples of what we do with athletes who may exhibit under active glutes. In this first post, I want to explain what we would do first in correcting this. It is important to note that this series has been successful for us. This is based on athletes giving us constant feedback about how they feel.
The first thing that we will always do is look to the opposite side of the hip on the weak glute side. For example, if one of our athletes/clients can’t fire their glute on one side, we will look to the front of that same side hip. What we usually see is tightness of one or more muscles including Iliacus, Psoas, and/or T.F.L. It totally makes sense as tightness of one or more of these muscles may cause the glute on the opposite side to lengthen and weaken (Reciprocal Inhibition). This leads me to think of a common question- “Do tight hip flexors cause weak glutes? Or- Does weak glutes cause tight hip flexors?” I honestly don’t know. I can tell you that in our athletes, we will do whatever we possibly can to prevent both from happening.
The first thing that we will do is foam roll. The foam roll is a great way to attack ptrigger points, adhesions, and/or tightness in the hip flexors. We will always foam roll in this area with all of our athletes and clients. Ideally, we will enlist the help of a massage therapist, or maybe our Active Release Practitioner. However, many athletes may have this dysfunction, so we will use the foam roller with bigger groups of athletes.
Here is what we will do for foam rolling:
We will actually spend some time specifically on the TFL as well as roll into the IT Band. The TFL will become tight due to over working in the hip flexion pattern- especially in skating.
This one has really helped us with getting these muscles to relax. What we have our athletes do is put the end of the foam roll under the rib cage, superior to the iliac crest, and lateral to the belly button. Most of our guys will feel it right away. However, if they can’t feel it right away, we will cue them to bend the knee of the same side leg, and try to contract the glute on the same side leg. This cue has been great for athletes who don’t “feel it” right away. We will have them take their time until the hip flexors relax and release. Sometimes our athletes and clients may be able to feel their glutes activate better just from doing this alone.