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  • Coach Matt Pippin

How To Test Your Hip Health



I like to say that your hips are the hub of all human movement because every step you take, every seat your sit on, even every upper body movement you do is connected to and initiated by your hips.


And if you’ve been struggling with issues like tight hip flexors, IT bands, glutes, hamstrings or groin, it’s all stemming from your hip joint.


Yes, even though you might feel the problem in your muscles, it’s coming from your joint. That’s where all of those muscles are connected to in the first place so it makes sense, right


And a healthy hip joint is designed to perform certain actions but if any of these are limited, the body will start to compensate by using other areas of the hip to pick up the slack.


Hello tight…everything in your hip!


Ever wonder why that foam roller, passive stretching or massage gadget isn’t getting your problem to go away for good? It’s because they’re not attacking your hip joint.


So how do we stop these issues from happening?


First, we need to know where our hip health is at by taking a look at which movements of our hip joint have some weaknesses.


That’s why I’ve put together this healthy hips test that you can do NOW to see where you’re hip health is at.


If you’re dealing with sticky, tight hips, understanding this will be your first step towards making change.


Even though these exercises look simple, for those with tight hips or pain, you’ll notice that it will be challenging or feel heavy to get into each position.


HOW TO TEST YOUR HIPS

Just go through each of the movements below and notice where you feel any pain, tightness or weakness.


The only equipment you’re going to need is either a foam roller, a chair, or a kitchen countertop. This will help with your balance and also help you “block” certain movement compensations that typically show up while you move.


TEST YOUR HIP FLEXION

Flexion occurs when you bring your knee up towards your chest. Lack of hip flexion leads to tight/weak hip flexors, tight hamstrings and lower back discomfort because it pulls your pelvis underneath you. If you’ve ever heard of the phrase “butt wink” you know what I’m talking about.


We’re going to start by assessing our right leg first. Go ahead and grab whatever object you’re going to be using to balance with and place it to the left of your body. This object is for making sure you don’t have to worry about your balance. This is a hip test, not a balance exercise!

To Setup:

  • I want you to start by standing as tall as humanly possible and locking out your left leg.

  • Squeeze your left glute and tap yourself in the midsection to ensure your abs are slightly engaged and in a neutral position. Don’t lose these contractions.

  • Now, slowly raise your right knee as high as you can, keeping your knee bent to 90 degrees the entire time. Go straight up, without veering to the right at all.

  • Get as high as you can and pause.

  • You should be feeling the tissue at the top of your hip, your hip flexors!

There are three major compensations patterns to avoid:

  • Bending the opposite leg

  • Leaning your torso forward or back

  • Curling your pelvis underneath, flexing your lower back

You may have to lower your leg a bit to avoid these compensations. That’s ok! We’re just getting a baseline for where you’re at now.


Take a minute to recognize how you feel and then repeat on your left leg.


Rate Your Hip Flexion

If you’re unable to get your knee at least to waist height without compensating, then that’s a sign that you need to start addressing your hip flexion strength.


TEST YOUR HIP INTERNAL ROTATION

When internal rotation isn’t present in the hip, this means you have a lack of space inside the hip capsule. Lack of space is associated with lack of overall hip movement (and most problems).


I’m going to forewarn you, this move is going to be super awkward, because it’s something most people have never actually tried to do voluntarily.

To Setup:

  • Go ahead and place your balance object as close to your left side as possible. Don’t be shy. Let it sit right next to your left side and don’t lost this contact.

  • Grab your waist with your right hand as this will give you feedback if your pelvis is rotating forward. We want it to stay neutral.

  • Stand as tall as possible, lock out your left side, and find that neutral core position.

  • Slowly lift your knee to either waist height or wherever you maximum flexion is.

  • Keeping your knee completely still, swing your right foot out to the right.

  • Pause when you can’t get any farther. You should be feeling the tissue at the top outside part of your hip, where your pocket would be. These are the muscles that produce internal rotation of the hip.

The biggest compensations for internal rotation we want to avoid are:

  • Lateral swaying of the body

  • Forward rotation of the pelvis

  • Lowering of the knee

Take a minute to recognize how you feel and then repeat on your left leg.


Rate Your Hip Internal Rotation

If you can’t get your foot as far out as mine in the picture without compensating, then that’s a sign you need to start addressing internal rotation.


TEST YOUR HIP EXTERNAL ROTATION

External rotation is a little more familiar of a movement since almost everyone has done some sort of glute stretch before. Tight glutes or IT bands? The culprit is oftentimes a weakness in your hip’s external rotation.

To Setup:

  • Get started by placing your balance object on the outside of your left leg and grabbing your waistline with your hand.

  • Stand as tall as possible, lock out your left side, and find that neutral core position.

  • Slowly lift your right knee to either waist height or wherever your maximum flexion is.

  • Keeping your knee completely still, swing your right foot to the left and pause when you can’t get any farther. You should feel the tissue of your inner thigh contracting.

Typical compensations you want to avoid are:

  • Lateral swaying of the body

  • Rounding of the lower back

  • Lowering of the knee

Take a minute to recognize how you feel and then repeat on your left leg.


Rate Your Hip External Rotation

If you you’re unable to get your foot as far as mine in the picture without compensating, that’s a sign your external rotation needs a little work.

TAKE THE HEALTHY HIPS 10 DAY CHALLENGE AND UNLOCK YOUR TIGHT, STICKY HIPS IN LESS THAN 10 MINUTES A DAY.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE


TEST YOUR HIP ADDUCTION

We’re going to keep testing those inner thighs with hip adduction, which is when you bring the leg across the body. Crossing the body is usually foreign territory for most people so don’t freak out if there’s not a whole lot of movement here. Lack of hip adduction leads to tight IT bands, glutes and anything on the outside of the leg.

To Setup:

  • Get stared by placing your balance object on the outside of your left leg and grabbing your waistline with your hand.

  • Stand as tall as possible, lock out your left leg, and find that neutral core position.

  • Straighten your right leg and slowly cross the midline of the body leading with your heel.

  • Go as far as you can, feeling that inner thigh contract.

Typical compensations to avoid are:

  • Lateral swaying of the body

  • Rotation of the lower body

  • Bending of the knee

  • Moving the leg to far forward

Take a minute to recognize how you feel and then repeat on your left leg.

Rate Your Hip Adduction

If you were unable to get your whole foot crossed over the outside of the opposite leg without compensating, that’s a sign that your adduction needs some work.


TEST YOUR HIP ABDUCTION

It’s time to start testing those glutes! First up is abduction which is when the hip moves out to the side away from the body. Lack of hip abduction leads to a tight groin and inner thighs.

To Setup:

  • Place your object right up against your left side.

  • Stand tall, lock out your left leg, and find that neutral core position.

  • Straighten your right leg and slowly lift it directly out to the side feeling those glutes contract.

Common compensations to avoid are:

  • Lateral swaying of the body

  • Bending of the knee

  • Moving the leg forward or backwards

Take a minute to recognize how you feel and then repeat on your left leg.

Rate Your Hip Abduction

If you can’t get your leg to at least where I’m at in the picture without compensating, you need to work on your hip abduction.

TEST YOUR HIP EXTENSION

Hip extension is when your hip moves backwards. Lack of hip extension leads to tight hip flexors, weak hamstrings and poor glute function.

To Setup:

  • Place your object in front of your right leg. Make sure the front of your thigh and waist is in contact with it.

  • Stand tall, lock out your left side, and find that neutral core position.

  • Keeping your right knee on the object, bend it to 90 degrees.

  • Slowly move your knee straight back putting the hip into maximal extension.

  • If you’re doing this correctly you’ll feel your glutes contract as well as your hamstrings. Those hamstrings will almost be on the verge of cramping.

A few compensations happen with this movement that you’ll want to avoid:

  • Straightening of your knee

  • Rotation of the body

  • Forward swaying of the upper body and lack of core neutrality

  • Foot moving out away from the body

Take a minute to recognize how you feel and then repeat on your left leg.

Rate Your Hip Extension

If you can’t get your leg to where mine is in the picture without compensating, you need to address your hip extension.


WHAT TO DO NEXT

If you found that you were unable to hit the benchmarks outlined above, you need to build strength at your hip joint in the areas you found were challenging to get into without compensating.


Right now you might be ok to deal with it but ignoring these signs will eventually lead to some problems.


The good news? I’ve put together the Healthy Hips 10 Day Challenge that will help you unlock your tight, sticky hips in less than 10 minutes a day.


You’ll get the exact system I use to target the most essential areas of the hip (I call this the “Hip Hierarchy”), full coaching on how to assess your hips, and a full plan with exercises for how to unlock those hips.


Beginners to advanced movers welcome! Click the image below to check it out and I’ll see you on the inside!


ABOUT COACH MATT PIPPIN

Matt is a Strength and Mobility Coach with over 15 years experience in his field and has coached over a thousand professional, collegiate and everyday athletes with the goal to help them move, feel and perform at their highest level. He's incredibly passionate about bringing simple and effective online mobility training programs to everyone who wants to take control of their self care and make lasting change. CLICK HERE to learn more.


Certifications:

  • NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

  • Level 3: Fascial Stretch Specialist

  • Level 1: Institute of Motion Health Coach

  • Certified FRC Mobility Specialist (FRCms)

  • Level 1 Kinstretch Instructor

  • Weck Method Qualified

#onlinemobilitytraining #kinstretchonline #mobilitytraining

Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional prior to beginning any exercise program. The content on our website is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or to replace a relationship with a qualified healthcare professional.

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