Most types of martial arts whether it be Taekwondo, Brazilian Jiu jitsu, wrestling or kickboxing require good hip mobility in order to get the most out the sport as well as to prevent injuries. If the hip joints are not flexible and don’t allow enough agility within certain positions then it’s likely problems will present themselves. Recently in the clinic we have had a few cases like this, so if you are having trouble with your hip flexibility/mobility then read on.
The most common complaint we hear is just sheer lack of range of motion in the hips. These patients really want to get into certain positions however find they simply cannot. This can result in a lot of frustration and because certain positions/moves simply require more flexibility, if you don’t have it available then the body will have to come up with a compensation strategy instead. This is usually when injuries will start to sprout, as less than optimal positioning is adopted and things can go wrong. If you sit all day for work, spend a lot of time driving, do a lot of heavy weights training or perhaps don’t exercise regularly at all apart from maybe the 1-2 classes/week of martial arts – then there is a chance that your hips are tight. Tightness in the hips can usually mean you need to stretch out your glutes, adductors (groin muscles) and/or your lower back. Most of the time we see restriction in all three of these muscle groups but the good news is regular stretching, trigger pointing with a ball and foam rolling can help solve the problem. Getting a remedial/sports massage of these areas is also beneficial every now and then and can really help open you up for better stretching practice. The key for stretching is consistency! Working on your mobility takes time and effort and unfortunately only stretching these areas 1-2x week is not going to have a good outcome. Aim for 4-5x week of stretching, especially honing in on the time you have before you train as this will reduce the risk of injury.
Less often, pain is the complaint we hear and we need to work out if the pain is coming from just sheer lack of range of motion, or instead an actual injury which has been acquired. Different martial arts obviously have varied requirements and place different stresses on the body. To prevent injury its important that your stretches and warm ups are specific to the sport. For example, if you do BJJ then there are some great resources out there such as “yoga for BJJ” (Instagram) which gives you specific flows to target problem areas. If pain persists or you are feeling pain throughout your regular daily life, then its probably a good idea to get the issue checked out by your physio.
So remember – mobile hips are healthy hips in martial arts, so pay attention next time you train. It may just save you an injury and improve your game significantly.