By Josh Staph
Those tight hipsthat have you pedaling your feet like Fred Flintsonegotta go. Irving "Boo" Schexnayder, the jumps and multi-event coach for LSU track and field, attributes success in the lanes in part to hip mobility. "Track is a displacement oriented sport," Schexnayder says. "And displacement is directly related to the range of motion attainable at a joint. All other things being equal, the person who covers more ground with each stride will win."
In addition to helping you win, increased hip mobility can also prevent common pulls and strains that plague sprinters. "The tighter things are, the more they tend to break down," Schexnayder says. "Tightness in the hips can trigger common problems in the hamstrings, knees and groin."
If chewing up rubber isn't part of your event, hip mobility can still benefit your performance. "Jumpers have to fight forward rotation in the air to maintain balance, and throwers have to do the same during the flight phase of their events," Schexnayder says. "The ability to manipulate the pelvis into good positions is crucial in controlling this rotation. Any tightness there makes this difficult to do effectively."
Use Schexnayder's guaranteed hip-mobility routine to open up and bust out this year.
Hurdle Mobility Series
Set up six 30-33" hurdles in a row
Stand facing first hurdle
Step over hurdle with right leg, then left
Continue stepping over each hurdle in row
Same as above, but move backward over hurdles
Same as above, but move sideways over hurdles
Sets: 2 x each direction. Alternate lead leg
Frequency: 2 times a week
Boo's Clues: Stepping over the hurdles challenges your hips' range of motion and teaches proper timing of muscle firing in opposing muscle groups.
Dynamic Leg Swings
Stand with wall or hurdle to your left; place left hand on it for balance
Without bending knee, aggressively swing right leg forward and then backwards for specified repetitions
Repeat on left side
Stand facing wall or hurdle with both hands on it for balance
Swing right leg across body and then out to side for specified reps
Repeat with other leg
Sets/Reps: 1 x 12 each direction
Frequency: Daily as warm-up
Boo's Clues: You have to stabilize with your hips and then bring your leg through a large range of motion.
Assume squatted position with top of thighs parallel to ground or lower
Slowly walk forward 10 yards without allowing hips to rise
Same as above, but walk backwards for 10 yards
Same as above, but walk to side for 10 yards
Sets: 2 x each direction
Frequency: Once a week
Boo's Clues: The very nature of this exercise forces you to move your hips through a large range of motion. We use the low walk as part of the actual workout because it's very intense.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock