Thursday, October 29, 2009
Hip Extension and the Neck
For athletes, hip extension is one of the most important movements. It is the key to running fast. Most training programs are geared around increasing the strength of hip extension. Not only must athletes posses great strength, the flexibility must also be there. There are quite a few things that can limit hip extension, tight hip flexors (tfl,psoas,rectus femoris), sacrum dysfunction, weak glutes/hamstrings, to name a few. One surprising thing that not many will think of, is suboccipital muscle dysfunction. These tiny muscles are at the base of the external occipital protuberance. They are loaded with muscle spindles, (receptors that report on body function).
This past week I've been working on many of the US Skeleton athletes. The way they are positioned on their sleds, requires a lot of neck hyperextension, which over time, creates tightness in the suboccipital muscles. After clearing out all the primary hip extension antagonists, I released the suboccipital muscles and rechecked hip extension. To a tee, they gained around 3-4 inches of more hip extension range of motion. So if your hip extension on yourself or athletes isn't there, and you clear out the primary structures, look to these small muscles.