Think about the simple act of a pop-up, to a few down the line pumps, a big roundhouse cut back, a few more pumps, and if you haven't bonked it at this stage, let's throw in a floater for good measure. Every single one of those movements is requiring some pretty extreme flexibility and mobility out of your joints, and especially your hips. So if you want to surf well, and especially pain free, you need to keep your hip joints flexible. You can keep those hips moving with focused stretches and tissue work, but the most essential key to stretching is doing it properly.
Check out the video and learn the keys to:
We'd love to hear what you think, please leave a comment below.
Tight hips can be really good at offsetting your knee range of motion, promoting back pain so essentially hip joints should be really mobile. If it’s stiff, your body is going to force movement into the lumbar spine or in the knees and start putting torques and forces and pain so the surfer, you want to keep the hips mobile, which is going to allow you faster and more mobile popups, you can get your legs into better position during turns. It’s just a really important joint to keep mobile. So I want to give you some tips to keeping the hips loose, keeping them moving.
A lacrosse ball, a cricket ball, a stability ball or balance ball, you might want a yoga block, and then a band, a strap or belt or whatever the case may be.
So start with some tissue work. You can do some foam rolling or you can get a lacrosse ball or cricket ball. This lateral hip we’ve got the TFL (tensor fascia latae) muscle up front, then glute medius, glute minimus and back here’s this big glute muscle. These muscles have the tendency to get really tight, and once a muscle is really overly tight it can’t do its job quite well. So you’re essentially going to lay on this tennis ball or lacrosse ball and just start massaging out that tight tissue. This can be quite aggressive and quite tender at times. You might get some trigger points which will send referral kinda down the side of the leg, maybe the ankle, side of the knee. You want to spend about 2-4 minutes just rubbing this tissue out if you are watching TV, spent some time just rubbing that tissue out. Again you can come a little more to the front side and star hitting that TFL. That TFL connects into the IT (iliotibial) band or the fascia becomes your IT band so you can influence the knee movement. Spend some time working on the lateral hips. Then we can start getting into loosening up the big hip groups. The glutes, deeper hip muscles. Something we call a 90-90 stretch. A big thing we’ll see people often doing is when they try to stretch their hips they don’t stretch the hips. They just start compensating with the lower back. So they are not really mobilising the hip joint, they’re just forcing range of motion into their spine.
So I’ll show you both.
90-90, so we keep this to the 90 degree and this to the 90 degree as well. If you’re really tight you might need to set your hip up on a yoga block or pillow and that’s going to let you get into this better position. And when I say people force movement into the spine and not the hip joint, what they’ll do is instead of keep a neutral spine position, they’ll just flex here. So going into a lumbar flexion you’re not getting any hip mobility, your just getting more mobility out of your lumbar spine.
So you want to get up nice and tall and then keep this spine position and just kind of push forward a bit until you get the stretch through the hip joint. And you can do multiple directions. Out to here. And spend some time working on those big hip rotators. And again make sure you’re staying tight upright spinal positioning so you’re forcing the movement into that hip joint.
So, nailed that one.
Hip flexors. We sit at desks. Loads of people get way tight hip flexors or really restricted hamstrings. A good hip flexor stretch. Foot up on the ball. Come up. You start getting vertical and you can start going into a bit more side bends, you’re opening up the psoas, you’re opening up your lat, your obliques. But we’re really working on the quad, and this hip flexor. So psoas, rectus femoris, your iliacus. So it looks like that. And again people have at tendency to put the movement into the spine not the hip. So in this position they’ll go here, so they are not stretching this hip. So we want to do what we call posterior tilt of the pelvis. So I kind of tighten my glute, posteriorly tilt the pelvis. Now I’m getting a lot bigger of a stretch in the front of that hip. To think you know people sitting at desks in this hip flex position all day, we want to open that hip back up coming into here, deep breaths, breathing into the area of stretching. If you’ve got really tight, tight hip flexors it’s going to screw with your back pretty good.
So we’ve done lateral hips; we’ve done hip flexors of the front of the hip; the 90-90’s hitting your big lateral hip rotators; so now hamstrings. And again, hamstrings. People often put movement in their lumbar spine and not the hamstring. So they’ll start trying to stretch the hamstring but they’re essentially really going into the lumbar spine again. So think of controlling your spine position so you can almost go fingertip to fingertip of the low back. And if I start trying to stretch my hamstring and all I’m feeling is my back pushing down into my hands. That means you are no longer just stretching the hamstring, you’re pulling the whole pelvis posteriorly which is affecting your lumbar spine.
So fingertips underneath there so you can feel if you’re affecting the spine or the pelvis and get into some active hamstring stretches. So I’m using my quads to straighten the leg up. Hold that stretch for a few sections. Other side. So I’m a bit tighter on that hip. Then I’m not forcing the spine down into my hands.
You can do this with the band. Get a bit more active. Hold the toes down so you start to open up all the calf muscles as well. Push. Hold that stretch for a few seconds and watch that spine. The hamstrings.
So there you go. Several good stretches and soft tissue techniques just to open up the hip muscles. Again, you’re a surfer, you need to be able to move, and the hip joint needs to be able to move really dynamically in loads of positions, so you’ve got to keep all the surrounding muscles tissues loose to allow mobility so you’re not forcing movement to the spine, or forcing movement into the knees.
Hamstrings, hip flexors, lateral hips, glutes, it’s good stuff.
Check out surfstrengthcoach.com for a load more info and stretches and exercises. Keep checking out surfing-waves.com, this is the first in a series of articles and videos. That’s it, stay healthy, get fit, get mobile, get strong, keep surfingThat’s it, take care."
Cris Mills is the man behind surfstrengthcoach.com. Cris is an avid surfer, traveller, and fitness/health coach who works with surfers using movement, exercise, manual therapy, and nutrition coaching to keep them surfing as much as possible. He's spent the last great portion of his life travelling to surf incredible waves, and he now resides in Sydney Australia.