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Stop Whining, Start Stretching, "Insta-Mobility", Yin for Lifters/Athletes

Athlete/Gym-Goer : "Hey, my knees hurt when I squat, what am I doing wrong?"

Coach : "Have you been stretching?"

Athlete/Gym-Goer: "No, why?"

Coach:


Alright, joking aside, I am here to talk about hip mobility, give you a yin-yoga hip flow to try out, and talk some shit.


Now, a lot of things can lead to tight hips such as chronic lack of movement, genetics, injury, repetitive strain/stress to the area, and growing up with Western toilets.


I'm going to make a fun, albeit bold, claim before I get into things.


Countries with toilets like this:









Would do a great service to it's citizens, and keep them out of old-folks home longer if they forced people to use toilets like this:












Why? Because the ability to comfortably bring your hips below your knees is essential for full functioning as a human, and especially as an athlete.


I have a dream, and it's for the next NCAA D1 multi-million dollar sports complex built to have squatty toilets, not sit-down toilets. I think I can make some great arguments that it would reduce injury, and also increase performance, of their student athletes.


Anyway, enough about toilets.


The stage is set, with your tight hips that is. So, what can you do about it?


If you go on instagram and search 'Hip Mobility' you will find a bunch of options surely, and some may even work. However, if I am honest, you'll mostly find soft-porn. You do not need to wear skin-tight booty shorts to perform or demonstrate mobility exercises, so if that is the primary focus of a 'mobility account', then we are praying to different gods.


The other issue with searching for hip mobility on instagram is that an algorithm focused on what is 'eye-catching' (hence the propensity of soft-porn-mobility-accounts on insta), not what best serves you, and therefore you are likely being shown a stretch or exercise that is extremely advanced, unnecessarily complex, or simply looks good on camera all to attract that algorithm.


"A man who is being delivered from the danger of a fierce lion does not object, whether this service is performed by an unknown or an illustrious individual. Why, therefore, do people seek knowledge from celebrities?" El-Ghazadi (Persian Sunni Muslim Polymath)

I love this quote because it encapsulates our modern world so well. To bridge that to our present discussion, I'll just ask if you think it's a good idea to get your mobility drills from someone whose body dimensions and muscle mass are lightyears away from your own, who has never actually had mobility restrictions to work through (aka born flexible, and has experienced no injuries), and who always seems to place the camera 'behind'....?


The importance of proper emulation became very clear during my 200hr Yoga Teacher Training in Rishikesh, India. Taking sex-appeal and gender out of the discussion, it was extremely obvious that my body was very different from the yoga instructor's present. I am 5'9", weigh about 165lbs, carry a fair bit of muscle-mass for my size, and up until that point, I had destroyed my body playing hockey and lacrosse. This yoga course was part of my healing journey.



By the age of 24, I had torn both ACL',s 1 MCL, 1 LCL, 1 Meniscus, separated both shoulders several times, few rotator cuff injuries, had fully torn all of the ligaments in my right ankle, rocked a herniated disc, a hernia, a broken hand, and I am probably forgetting some more. I was so immobile I could not bring my hips down below my knees, I could not overhead squat a broomstick, could not kneel, and was in a lot of frigging chronic pain. In great contrast to my body, the average male yoga instructor we had was around my height or shorter, and maybe had some injuries in their past, but they weighed about 125lbs, and appeared (to me anyway) to be almost completely devoid of muscle-mass. We built different fam.


Here is a hyperbolic analogy.... Take a folder, like a regular folder for holding papers. Put a few regular sheets of paper in there, and see if it still folds and closes nicely. Okay, that represents the muscle in between the joints (literal bones) of your average muscleless yogi. Now take that same folder, and put a steak in it. Does it still close the same? Fuck no. Connect the dots then bruv! You're the steak version.


The gap between my body, and the average yoga body was massive. And, I apologize for the slight call-out, but a lot of the yogi's there were like the instructors, and were basically, to my eyes, spending time in positions in which they had no restriction in. It was an expression of ability, not training, not forcing change, not alchemy. Me, and the French guy who was an ex-boxer, were the only one's who really got more flexible there. Everyone else was just feeling nice in cool positions they've always been able to get into.


I hope I don't sound like a yoga hater. I am not that at all. Yin Yoga specifically saved my body. However, if I am honest, most yoga I have been presented with is not appropriate at all, or needs to be heavily adjusted, for it to be beneficial, or even performable, for most male ex-athletes, or people with lots of injuries, or people with a bit more muscle-mass.


When I returned from India, I came right back into my life as a Strength and Conditioning Coach in Saskatoon training elite hockey players. Under the blessing of my mentor and boss Blaine Whyte, I began lightly introducing Yoga to the fellas. As could be expected within a very male space, this was received with some resistance until the boys started feeling better in their hips, and most were slowly converted. Here is one of my favourite pics I snapped back in that era of my life.


Anyway, if you have made it this far, you are probably ready to see The Work.


If you are someone who Lifts, or simply needs to perform athletically for fun, sport, or career, then your hip mobility is paramount. You do not need the fanciest, most advanced mobility out there. Certainly not to start. You need a few solid stretches that address the main areas of the hips, and then you need to do them a thousand times. That isn't a joke.


An American Coach will tell you a thousand things and have you practise each of them once; whereas a Japanese Coach will tell you one thing, and have you practise it a thousand times." - Zen Proverb

Most folks do not stick with a stretch or exercise long enough even to tell if it works or not. If you are trying out new stretches, poses, or approaches each week, that is not going to work. The body needs time, things need to seep into the body, things need to settle, and I believe that is the same with stretches, poses and exercises. What you need to do to improve your hip mobility is to settle on a few non-complex, basic-ass, boring poses, that you will repeat multiple times/week for at-least a few months.


Remember it all boils down to this..... The ability to delay immediate gratification for later reward. If you can't sit with a pose for a couple months, then you are the problem, not the pose, and you need to train your discipline muscle, sorry.


So, here is my version of a basic-ass, boring, but EXTREMELY REPEATABLE & EFFECTIVE hip mobility sequence.



Ps, this was also loosen up a tight low-back.



If you perform this Hip Flow 3x/week, for 3 months, I guarantee you that you will feel more mobile, be more mobile, and perform better in the gym, on your board, and in daily life. If you do in fact perform this 3x/week for 3 months that means you'll hit these poses around 36 times each. Not even close to the 1000 required by the Japanese.


Thanks for reading!


Go Stretch!

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