With athletes at Cressey Sports Performance in the thick of things during their winter break, I just wanted to drop a very quick and easy combination that I’ve been implementing that will enhance hip mobility, increase range of motion for athletes that are looking to improve their stride off the plate, along with challenging core stability.
Keep in mind that these same exercises can also be adjuncts or supplementary towards improving hip width during power moves in breakdancing, something that is necessary once you perform at a higher level.
When looking at things from a stride point of view in baseball, it is imperative to understand that there is dynamic motion in multiple planes, and a subsequent need for stabilization in multiple planes as well. Ignoring one plane of motion for another is shortsighted; only performing sagittal plane movements will ignore the necessary transfer of force into the frontal and traverse planes that are seen in baseball and many other rotary sports.
At the same time, always improving motion in the frontal plane at the exclusion of training the sagittal plane will not be the best course of action either, because well, you just won’t get strong.
“Improving sagittal plane stability will often open up frontal plane mobility.”
I’ll let that sink in.
So with that under your belt, here are the following two exercises for improved hip mobility and stability!
- Determine end range for hip abduction, as each will have individual ranges of motion.
- Push and spread the floor to activate glutes.
- Stay tall through movement, and don’t allow head to fall into a forward head position.
- Torso and head are stable, and arms move as you perform movement.
In essence, many individuals just assume the position, and either slack with positioning, either losing torso/ribcage position, head or eye position, or even not locking out their legs/glutes appropriately.
- Stay tall through movement, providing only a slight forward lean as necessary in order to accommodate the weight.
- Maintain a tall neutral neck position (don’t go into cervical extension).
- Make sure to sit back into hip flexion.
- Heels will be in contact with the floor at all times, in order to maintain appropriate ankle, knee, hip alignment as you perform this movement.
This is a standard lateral lunge, holding a DB of desired weight in front of the body to make sure the reactive nature of the core is ensured.
What is being improved upon in this combination?
- Hip abduction (femurs moving away from the midline)
- Hip external rotation (stabilizing the pelvis by corkscrewing with your feet, tibia, and femoralacetbuluar angles)
- Internal and external oblique muscular stability as both exercise challenge anterior core stability, along with rotary stability being challenged in the anti-rotation chop.
Your brain is an easily fooled creature – you believe you are “tight”, but after performing these items your hip mobility can be improved upon through several mechanisms, namely reciprocal inhibition by activating the glute max and glute med (hip abductors)
If you are lacking in lower body range of motion, challenge yourself by really spreading the floor in the Wide Stance Anti-Rotation Cable Chop. Instead of leaving the idea of “wide stance” out for interpretation, challenge your hip mobility and push your limits!
Now, after completing one set on both sides, if you can ensure you are performing your lateral lunges to the next degree, make sure you are improving your range of motion by making sure your straight leg is really and truly straight.
Don’t forget to lock out your knee on the “straight leg.”
Why You Should Include This Combination
One item to remember is that with many of our baseball athletes, I’d argue that this is also an “arm care” exercise – that is, by improving the ability of the lower body to move fluidly and absorb and adapt to stress, you are improving the ability for your athletes to move with more efficiency (and, to be more specific, have less issues biomechanically as you release the ball since you have more separation).
From a dance perspective, if you can open your hips up more, you will be placing less stress on your knees, as many dancers flex and extend rapidly at the knees in order to produce torque, instead of closing and opening their hips rapidly (which is naturally a greater source for force production).
Integrating This Combination
Within a programming scheme, I’d look at this towards a more complimentary or accessory exercise selection, perhaps performing this back to back in a circuit scenario in order to challenge the lower body musculature.
Perform this later on in the session, perhaps after your sagittal plane strength training has been performed already, as a secondary or tertiary exercise combination selection.
For weight selection for the DB Goblet Lateral Lunge, you can always choose a lighter weight, and go heavier after grooving a movement pattern. Don’t be afraid to go heavy (40 to 60+lbs) in order to challenge your anterior core more. If you are having difficulty with this exercise initially, start lighter or even bodyweight at first, and then seek to rapidly increase weight.
As you can see, there are multiple takeaways that you can introduce into many of your sport specific training methods that require a wide stance, or at the very least challenge the lower body musculature.
Keep it funky.