Dear Greenville SC CrossFit and Martial Arts athletes, you need to read this! What I have noticed with CrossFit & martial arts athletes are that they are very strong pound-for-pound, but they do a poor job of being able to properly engage their core and gluteal muscles. Guess what, the stronger these muscles are, then the faster & better you will lift, kick, punch, takedown, sprawl, leg ride, arm bar, and pretty much everything else in these sports. But why are these muscles so hard to engage for these athletes?
Without going all medical on you, it’s due to the hip flexor being overly contracted from constantly being in a squatted position without ever properly stretching. For Martial Arts, the constant squatted position from their fight stance and/or repetitive kicking. For CrossFitters, it's the constant focus on Olympic Lifts in every workout.
When a muscle is constantly contracted, this results in that muscle becoming very tight, thus having less flexibility. Constantly contracting the same muscle can also result in tendonitis, but hip flexor tendonitis is a topic for another blog post.
Less flexibility is BAD for CrossFit & martial arts athletes, especially at the hips!
Tight hip flexor muscles result in pulling the pelvis into a forward (anterior) rotation, resulting in ‘passive insufficiency’ of the gluteal muscles, abdominals, and hamstrings. Passive insufficiency is the medical term for a muscle being too stretched out for an efficient contraction, thus making it less effective in its use for movement and performance.
When the abdominals and glutes are unable to contract properly, the athlete has a large decrease in their ability to generate power throughout competition, especially when fatigued. Furthermore, weak abdominals, glutes, and hamstrings can result in back pain.
Many of these athletes may also feel like they have tight hamstrings, limiting their ability to split their legs when they sprawl, but this is actually because these muscles are already stretched to their limit due to their excessive anterior pelvic rotation. Thus, these athletes need to strengthen their hamstrings properly in order to have a better quad-to-hamstring strength ratio. Since the hamstrings are overstretched, and cannot efficiently contract, many of these athletes strain their hamstring when running, kicking, sprawling, or by doing improper exercises. Read more about hamstring strains in an earlier blog by clicking HERE.
So how do we start to correct this?
- First, stretch the hip flexors and strengthen the transverse abdominus to decrease the anterior pelvic rotation.
- Then, strengthen the engagement abilities of the glutes and hamstrings through eccentric contractions to stabilize proper pelvic posture.
These are just a few starter tips / exercise guidelines I most frequently initiate my athletes with these complaints on. However, every athlete is unique, thus modifications or starting treatment guidelines may be different for every athlete.
Seeing a physical therapist for a thorough evaluation is going to be your best option for resolution of all of your complaints! Something I have also found to consistently, and tremendously, help is dry needling of the tight hip flexors and lumbar spine muscles.
If you have questions about your pain/injury/limitation, or are interested in injury prevention, then call us at (864) 881-1712. We would love to take some time to help you.
If you need a physical therapist to evaluate, treat, or prevent your pain/injury/limitation, then schedule an appointment today.