I went and saw a physical therapist this week. Once on Tuesday, and once today. My hips suck, according to professional opinion.
I have problems with my hips, specifically related to moving things outward. Here is a picture of me with my legs stretched as far as they go. This was even me laying on the ground, relaxing them and letting gravity help.
This also affects my internal rotation of the hip. For example, a healthy hip can generally go out around 40 degrees outward. Mine only goes to 19 degrees on one leg, and 20 degrees on the other. There’s another test. The Physical Therapist rotated it out, pressed it toward center, and I was supposed to try to resist it. No joke, I couldn’t resist a toddler.
Another aspect of this is the trajectory of my knee. You know how you can lay down and pull your knee straight up into your chest and hold it? I can’t do that without injuring my hip flexors. My leg scoops out and the knee heads toward my armpit.
It also means that in jiu jitsu, if I’m sitting open guard, feet together and knees apart, if you push a knee of mine to the ground and I DON’T adjust my hips, I’ll injure myself. Sitting in full mount is incredibly painful for me, and even closed guard can be painful. My hips adversely affect my jiu jitsu.
Those hip muscles also attach to the lower spine, which means that my back has been aching like crazy, ready to seize up at any moment. My hip flexors also feel ready to be injured – sincerely, just rotating my legs a little too far, and I get VERY sharp pains. It sucks!
The physical therapist believes the ball of my leg’s ball and socket joint is off track. It doesn’t sit in the right place due to unknown reasons. She first pushes her finger deep into the side of my belly and presses on the hip flexor near my spine. She does this to help relax it. Then she has been pressing strongly on my femur downward, then pulling the leg out, trying to help it sit where it’s supposed to.
Then begin the exercises. So far I have had to do the following:
- Foam rolling my back
- “Open Books” – lay on the side with the knees bent and arms extended out together. You then open your arms like a book. Your knees and hips stay facing the wall, but your arms open like a T and your shoulders/back are ideally laying flat.
- Lumbar Rotation – my back is on the floor, my feet are on the floor with my knees bent. I then rock my knees from side to side.
- Hip Flexor stretch – kneeling in a deep lunge with the back knee on the ground.
- Calf stretches – standing on a wedge, hugging the wall.
- Bird Dog with rotation – on all 4s, I am on opposite hand/knee. One hand is on my neck, and I touch that elbow to my opposite knee, then bring that leg out straight, and twist my torso so that my elbow is facing the ceiling and my chest is facing the wall.
- Bridging – my knees are parted, with a resistance band on them. I have to hold them apart, and I bridge slowly.
So far, just in the past 3 days, the physical therapy has helped, although my back has been so terrible. Terrible enough that I have just rested or done easy movement this week, with no jiu jitsu. I’ll work on getting some photos of my range of motion – both for my personal documentation and for the blog.
Jiu-Jiu’s Question: Have any of you had success with increasing hip flexibility or flexibility in general? Have you gone to physical therapy and had success? Any words of encouragement? I’m feeling bummed and frustrated and in pain over here. 🙁