The 90/90 position and isometric contractions will be foundational in increasing the usable strength in the "end" of a range of motion (ROM).
You'll find me positioned in the accompanying video with one leg externally rotated in front of me it the other leg internally rotated behind me. This is the basic 90/90 position mentioned in the previous post because of the 90 degree angles formed in this posture.
The back leg is propped up, which internally rotates the hip - something which is lacking in the sedentary, desk bound person. The block or object propping this leg up can be of varying heights depending on how mobile this joint is for the person. What we want is for your leg to be put in a range of internal rotation that is slightly challenging to induce a stretch in this region.
PAILs Next, we push our heel downwards into the block while keeping the knee in place on the ground. This contraction is stimulating the external rotators of the hip in this extended ROM. In essence, we are getting stronger in a weak, lengthened ROM. This is the definition of mobility. This movement is called PAILs. I'll save more of the science and explanation of this for another time.
Perform 15 second contractions into the block or object interspersed with relaxing and letting the block work it's magical passive stretch. Do about 2 minutes worth of contractions and then switch legs.
RAILs Rather than pushing our heel downwards into the prop to work the external rotators like we did in the last section we are now going to lift the heel upwards while keeping the knee positioned on the ground. The hip, oblique, and glute should feel engaged. Position both hands in front of you while clenching the fists to irradiate tension throughout the core to encourage the engagement of the musculature that contributes to this movement. If this is too difficult place the hand opposite of the hip being worked a place it on the ground to support your torso. You should try to keep your torsoas erect as possible, in both variations. This movement is called RAILs. Again I'll expand on this in the future.
Perform 15 second contractions followed by relaxation where you allow the block to sink you deeper into the stretch. Do about 2 minutes worth of contractions on both legs. Remember, we are trying to lift the heel. Even if you can’t lift it that is OK! Because by trying to lift it, the nervous system and musculature necessary for this movement to be performed are engaged, which will ultimately allow for you to achieve the lift off.
These intense contractions coupled with the prop helping us stay in this position at the outer limits of our ROM tricks our nervous system into embracing this new ROM as something that can be used under tension. Our body has in place inhibitory mechanisms called Golgi Tendon Organs that relax a muscle when it has achieved an intense contraction. By using prolonged isometric contractions we are teaching the nervous system that it’s safe to not only access more ROM, but do it under load, stress, and tension. This is mobility folks.
Some last tips
If you’re feeling cramping in your hip, oblique, and/or glute then you’re performing this correctly. Embrace the tension. Embrace being uncomfortable, for this is where growth lies. Not just in exercises such as this, but being uncomfortable forces us to push past our limits and become better versions of ourselves. We all remember those early days as white belts when it was simply about showing up and surviving! Same applies here!
Begin performing these daily. Build it as a small habit first and then let it get it grow into a bigger one. Your hips will thank you and your life will be more vibrant as a result of moving more freely and efficiently.