Engage Your Hips For Better Mobility In BJJ

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There are some hip mobility exercises you can do standing. These will obviously target our hip, but the balance challenges it places on the support leg are just as instrumental as the “main leg” we’re mobilizing.

For most of these, we will be using end range isometrics from the standing position. This is like the Functional Range Conditioning based work I’ve covered before. If that doesn’t ring a bell, I’ll explain the rationale along with the usage of irradiation to get the most neural drive for your mobility training. For those acquainted, feel free to skip ahead.

Functional Range Conditioning

For the uninitiated, the movements we’ll be covering are built around Functional Range Conditioning developed by Canadian sport chiropractor Andreo Spina. In a nutshell, his work in this context centers around increasing joint range of motion (ROM) by using controlled articular rotations (CARs) of the join that is likened to oiling an engine.

Another prominent component of this philosophy is to use end range isometric contraction to communicate to the nervous system — and ultimately muscle — that it’s safe to access that ROM. This teaches the body that it’s safe to move into those ROM.

First, we will share a technique that is crucial in helping to train mobility in the body.

Irradiation

  • Feet firmly planted
  • Big toes especially pushing down
  • Feel all four corners of your feet
  • Arms at sides with 30 degrees abduction with either a fist or completely open palm as wide as you can make it
  • Screw feet into the ground
  • Squeeze butt and tighten abdomen in towards spine on your exhale
  • Seek to tighten hands as much as possible with each out breath and create as much down force with your feet into the ground as much as possible
  • Be sure when bringing tension to the outer extremities that you’re keeping a lengthened contraction
  • The feet should still feel wide
  • Do 5 breaths with 5-second pauses at bottom of exhale
  • Ramp up intensity with each breath all the way to 100 percent
  • Completely relax to shake out the tension
  • Do at least one more set before beginning mobility work

What “Tight” Hip Flexors May Actually Represent

Many times we feel the incessant need to stretch our hip flexors, quadriceps, and “front line” because they feel tight from Western culture and associated sitting. Plus, grappling puts us into a lot of forward flexed positions.

But many of us find that even with this incessant stretching, the hip flexors and “front line” still feel tight. What actually needs to be done in these cases is what I’m sharing today: strengthening this area at the end range.

This active contraction at end range will create more control of our ranges of motion and will actually make the hip flexors feel less tight because you’ve gotten a “grip” on them i.e. neuromuscular control.

Protocol

  • Position yourself with outside hip flexed with inside leg and hand supporting near the wall
  • Hold outside knee up towards chest with outside hand
  • Going to our end range we hold knee in place and then we let go using an active contraction to keep the knee driven up
  • The standing leg pushes down with extra awareness brought to the big toe pushing into the ground
  • This helps straighten the leg and ground through all four corners of the foot
  • You should feel your butt engage
  • When you lift off irradiate tension by either squeezing or widening your outside hand as much as possible

Use of The Bosu Ball

Use of the Bosu Ball targets different angles of the foot. It forces you to practice keeping a wide foot to promote balance. If you keep gripping with your feet, you will only tighten that musculature and make it even harder to balance.

This is an optional addition to any of these standing mobility exercises.

Final Considerations

Doing this end range work is going to help communicate to the body that we can actively hold and control these ranges of motion. Coupling it with the strength movements helps keep the neural drive going, while performing movements that are required for optimum living and performance.

I’m a big believer in creating “feedback cycles” with your exercise selection and timing. This is just another one of those examples. This exercise is a great primer to use minutes before going on the mats because it gives you the neural drive to fire and control your hips.

Take it for what it’s worth, but I remember at the 2018 ADCC East Coast Trials, Tex Johnson was using this as part of his warmup. We spoke of the applicability of FRC training for BJJ.

Your activation and control of your body on the mats will severely increase by adding these to your routine.

I’m releasing my first video product and 12 week training program “Secrets to Soft, Stable, Strong, and Supple Low Back/Hips”.

You can find the preorder HERE. It’ll be live for a few more weeks before the sale ends.

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