If your hips feel tight when you squat, and you’ve tried every stretch to try and loosen them up and it isn’t working, then you need to watch this video. Here I’m going to show you the real reason why your hips feel tight and what you can do to make your squat better. I will take you through a step by step process for identifying the real root cause of your hip tightness and how to fix the problem without ever having to stretch your hip flexors.
We start with an evaluation that can be done at home just laying on the ground. You want to test your range of motion of each hip into flexion, internal rotation and external rotation. While this is easier if you have a therapist to do it for you it isn’t necessary to get the information that you need to move forward. Once you find the restriction in your range you can start to address the issue. In Jesse’s case he has tightness into external rotation of his left hip.
This is actually quite a common problem. Hip internal rotation restrictions are also common but more often when the issues are driven by arthritic changes in the hip or from an acetabular impingement that would likely cause a good amount of pain with the testing. If you are looking for things that you can fix more easily however, you will likely find that external rotation is limited.
This is especially important when you realize that it is often coupled with a limitation in flexion. The combination of flexion and external rotation is something that is critical to performing a properly executed squat. The first thing you can do is skeletally make some changes to ease the demands on your body. You would want to rotate your legs outward (not just your feet) and take a somewhat wider stance. These will allow the bones in your hip to clear into flexion without experiencing a natural anatomical block.
If this improves your range but you still feel issues and tightness in your hips then you want to move to the next level and look at the hip capsule. Here is where most of the restrictions will lie. Try the combo hip external rotation and flexion mobilization shown here and assess how you feel in the squat once again. If you see complete correction then you know you need to work on this more. If you see some improvement but not all then you need to keep going to the point of evaluating the muscles around the hips.
The hip has many muscles that cross it or influence its motion. It’s not just the flexibility of these muscles that matters however. You also want to evaluate their strength and their stability. If the hips are tight they are likely getting called to do a job they aren’t supposed to be by a stabile joint that isn’t doing it’s job. The hip tightness is being recruited as a compensation for instability elsewhere, often in the low back. Watch as this unfolds and how to correct this.
Finally, you want to check for the intrinsic strength of the hip rotators. You will likely be shocked at just how weak your hips are. With the right strengthening exercises, you will be able to quickly address your weaknesses and get your hips feeling right again every time you squat.
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