Hip flexibility

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by ted1613, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. ted1613

    ted1613 New User

    Feb 13, 2010
    I noticed a thread about the importance of the hips in the kinetic chain and I have very stiff hips. I'm only a teen though.


    I can't stretch my legs that far because of the pain on the outside part of the hips. What exercises can I do to make that area more flexible?
  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Work on twisting, feet planted 2' apart, face forwards, hands on hips.
    Your shoulders should point past 90 degrees of your feet.
  3. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    You've got the right idea to get stronger for tennis.

    But you're going in the wrong direction if your goal is to get your hips to split wider open.

    What you really want is some simple exercises that will exercise the leg muscles, the core, and the muscles that connect the muscles to the core.

    Notice that in every serve, good servers do an exercise called the squat.


    Notice in the photos above that Sampras squats down, then pushes powerfully up.

    So you should be doing the "king of exercises" - the squat.


    The above images show someone squatting with barbells, but you can start with squats just using your own body weight:


    Doing this simple exercise will allow you to let your body weight sink down while remaining balanced, just like Sampras does in his serve above.

    As you become more experienced you can add in some dumbbells to get even stronger.

    (If you want to, you can even join a gym and get instruction to learn to squat with barbells.)

    You can even learn to jump out of squat, to better duplicate the dynamic move that should help power every serve:

    Squat Drop Jump http://www.xlathlete.com/view_exercise2.jsp?exercise_id=1330
    (Don't do these too early, or you will be risking injury.

    The other exercise that is very good for tennis players is the lunge:


    Again, start with just body weight lunges (no dumbbells) and you can add the dumbbells in later.

    Adding in an upper body twist also is a great variation to work your core more:

    Lunge With Twist http://www.xlathlete.com/view_exercise2.jsp?exercise_id=1585

    If you just squat and do lunges I think you will get the results you are looking for.

    [You will find that the whole body is used in the kinetic chain. So if you are interested in training further, consider the following:
    The Elite Approach to Tennis Strength Training http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/tennis-strength-training.html

    And don't forget "running" as defined by this USTA coach:
    " When training the players the USTA works with, we usually do some sort of "running" four to five times a week. The running session usually lasts between 20 – 40 minutes, but there is a lot of variety in the types of running we do.

    You’ll note that we put running in quotation marks, because much of what we do is different from the long, slow distance running many tennis players are familiar with – there is some long distance running, but the “running” sessions also involve footwork/tennis agility work, or interval runs. The type of running depends upon the periodized strength and conditioning schedule of the player.

    Generally, the long distance running and longer interval repeats (400s and 800s) are done during the preparation phase when you are getting ready for the season. Shorter, higher intensity intervals (20s, 40s, 60s, 100s, 200s, and 400s) and on-court footwork/tennis agility are the main focus during the pre-competition phase in the weeks leading up to main competition or competitions. During the competition phase of the season, on-court footwork/tennis agility is the “running” focus.

    Recognizing that each player is an individual, we adjust the plan depending upon the player’s cardiovascular endurance, agility and their physical and physiological strengths and weaknesses."
    - http://www.usta.com/Improve-Your-Game/Health-Fitness/Training-and-Exercise/Conditioning/ ]
  4. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

    Feb 17, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Excellent book with exercises and stretches targeted for tennis: Complete Conditioning for Tennis, Roetert & Ellenbecker. (I count 11 stretches for the lower body and most involve the hip.)

    Stretching reference with many insightful discussions, Stretching Scientifically, - For example, 'if you can't squat it often indicates that your Soleus (one of the calf muscles) is too tight'.

    Reference on muscles and their joint movements - Manual of Structural Kinesiology, Thomson, get and older edition (14th or 15th) as they are just as good as references but much cheaper than latest edition that is used as a college text. Identifies each joint, the muscles that work the joint and the joint motions produced by the muscle shortening. Very clear illustrations.

    Some tight and weak muscles that my many years of my tennis & the gym missed:

    Piriformis Stretch - often recommended. Done lying on back with legs in sort of a figure 4 pattern. Mine was/is too tight.

    Rectus Femorus & other Quad muscles - The rectus femorus is one of the quad muscles, the only one that attaches above the hip at the pelvis. Too tight, it causes anterior pelvic tilt. Most people do the common quad stretch (bend knee, grasp ankle and pull it toward butt) with a slight (flexed) angle between the upper leg to trunk. With that slight angle the rectus femorus is missed by the stretch.
    Read the first paragraph after "Common Sense Solution" for a description of this common quad stretching error that misses the rectus femorus.

    Weak Gluteus Medius, important for balance, ice skaters & dancers have well developed gluteus medius muscles. Special exercises with resistance bands, 'clamshell', 'monster walks', 'fire hydrants'.

    You should become aware of the postural issues in the hip particularly those that might cause the leg to rotate or tilt in. These posture issues are important for long term health of the joints of the leg, particularly the knee. The hip is critical for leg posture. Life style issues, how you sit ,etc. may be very important for your posture. Also, muscles at any joint operate in opposing pairs of muscle groups for motion, agonists (the shortening muscles) and antagonists(more for control). Both the agonist and antagonist muscles should be balanced regarding length and strength. Search Eric Cressey for some discussions on posture.

    I have posted several times in more detail on the above. Search- Chas Tennis Piriformis, Chas Tennis rectus femorus stretch, etc to locate for more detail and links. Search the internet using piriformis stretch, gluteus medius exercises, gluteus medius resistance bands, etc..

    Much of the internet is just cut & paste from other websites and may contain errors so I recommend the above references which all were written by experts. A book on kinesiology is a great life-time reference for any athlete. Suggest that you learn the muscles, joints and motions and their proper terms, especially useful to speed up targeted internet searches. You can often find the books at the library or, if they are not in your local library system, request a copy inter library loan - ask at the information desk.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2012
  5. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

    Feb 17, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    The hip motion shown is internal hip rotation. The range of motion for the person shown in the picture, 50°, might be unusually large. ?

    You should research range of motion for internal hip rotation and exactly how to measure it. If your range of motion is within the normal range your hips are not necessarily too tight. ?


    This reference lists normal ROM for internal hip rotation at 35°. That is considerably less than the 50° you are comparing yourself to. (Check other ROM references.) Is the ROM of your hips too small?

    This second reference lists 45° as "expected" ROM.

    This reference gives 35-50° ROM as normal.

    I don't want to be involved in measuring what your range of motion is since I'm not qualified to measure it. Could you research ROM and estimate yours?
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2012
  6. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

    Nov 7, 2006
    Long Island, NY
    I don't think hip flexibility is that important in tennis. Hip strength is probably more important.

    Shoulder flexibility is a different story..I think it's a key to big servers like Sampras and Roddick.

Share This Page