19 May, 2010

Tight Hips - Check that Back

In my rehab, we've been working on everything that supports proper leg and knee movement. Everything from ankle and associated muscle, ligament and tendon strength and flexibility to hip and core strength flexibility.

My most recent session involved my PT's watching me doing lunges walking backwards (with a medicine ball up in the air and chopping down and across) and talking between themselves at how poorly my hips were moving and how I try to accomodate the poor hip flexibility with my feet - which of course leads to more knee problems. DUH!

Anyhow, their goal for this session was to work on my hip flexibility. They kept wondering how my body functioned in JiuJitsu and TaeKwonDo with such tight hips.

I never noticed how tight my hips were until they were stretching me. I was always able to kick pretty high. I felt like I was able to get some "heavy" hips when rolling. Really flattening out and remaining solid.

But I did sense the hip stiffness. As they stretched me over, they noticed that my hip flexibility was impeded by my hip flexors and my upper quad being so tight..

I was rolled to my back and my spine was pushed this way and that. The diagnosis was my "TL" was to blame. Thoracolumbar Junction. The spot between the T12 (twelvth thoracic vertebrae)and L1 (First lumbar vertebrae). The nerves in that area innervate my glutes, abdomen, hip and thigh area.

The fix:
1) Get that area massaged.
2) Stretch the hip flexor area.
3) Stretch and activate your TL spot. (sexy)

How to do that.
For #1. I ask my kids to walk on my back! Always fun!
#2. Stretching the hip flexor area. It helps activate release points along the nerves that run from your TL junction. Lie on your back. Bring your knees up, feet still on the ground. Cross your legs - knee over knee. Let the knee and leg in the top position slowly stretch the bottom leg down and across your body. Hold the stretch for 5 second. Then squeeze your knees together and then relax. And hold the stretch again for another 5 count. And then squeeze and stretch once more. After every squeeze of the knees, you should feel your legs and hip just relax a touch more every time.
Someone without a TL problem should feel most of the stretch in the hip and glute of the bottom leg. I felt all of this stretch in the front thigh, hip flexor part of my bottom leg. Switch legs.

#3. Stretching and activation of TL. This involved lying face down on your belly. Get into pushup position - the military style with your hands right under your shoulders. While keeping your legs, hips and pelvis flat on the ground, slowly push up on your upperbody. The goal is to slowly loosen your back around mid to the lower-mid back.

Do this everyday. You should see some response from your hips and thighs.


  1. So lots of Cobra stretches for you my friend? I think I'll join ya!

  2. Ahh yes! Cobra, or even upward dog. I did ask about that. The goal for this TL Junction stretch is not the height. It's about rolling upwards and not pivoting. Hard to know when you are doing what without a mirror or someone telling you. BTW - thanks for the comments on the BOSU, etc. My first post (i was geeked to do a couple) yesterday expanded on your comments.


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Attention Deficit Dad with as many interests as days in the year. You can't hold me back and you can only hope to contain me!
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