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Monthly Mobility Exercise: Hip CARs

Monthly Mobility Exercise: Hip CARs

In the previous two months, I introduced the Monthly Mobility Exercise (Segmental Cat Cow & Neck CARs) as a way to further promote the importance of including mobility training in your physical activities.  As we age, we are reminded of the importance of joint health thanks to the various injuries and pains we encounter that involve our joints.  In general, physical treatment (like chiropractic care) and physical exercise are the only methods we really have to ward off joint problems (pain, injury, degeneration).  Traditionally, physical exercise takes the form of resistance training (free weights, body weight, resistance bands, and machines) and endurance training (running, walking, cycling, swimming, etc.).  Flexibility training (stretching) has mostly been recommended as an important add-on to your routine – although various studies over the years have pushed “stretching” into the grey zone of “not really sure it matters” (I don’t believe this anymore, so don’t forget to do your stretches after you work out).  Mobility training is the relatively-speaking ‘new kid on the block’ in the physical training world.  Of course, if you’ve known me for a while, you know I have promoted mobility training for nearly a decade since studying Functional Range Conditioning (FRC)

Mobility training

Mobility training, in a nutshell, is movement patterns designed to preserve and improve joint motion and health.  And, since most aches and pains we develop through life are joint-dysfunction-related problems (think: back and neck pain, hip, and knee arthritis, rotator cuff shoulder injuries, etc.), it makes too much sense to prioritize mobility training.  After all, we’re talking about health.

The Segmental Cat Cow and Neck CARs are the starting blocks for spinal joint mobility care.  This month’s mobility exercise is a crowd favourite:  Hip CARs.  Why do my patients (and I) love hip CARs?  Well, here’s a list of reasons:

  • Big range of motion is available to us to tap into in the hip (femoroacetabular joint).  Nothing is more deterring than a joint that doesn’t move.  So, when we move the hip, we feel a sense of accomplishment because of the larger range of motion.
  • Hip and back pains are very common so we tend to gravitate to these areas of the body for self-care.
  • People are worried about hip replacements in the future.  Good.  Let the fear motivate you a bit by preserving your hip joint “space” and improving the motor control and strength of the involved muscles.

Controlled Articular Rotation

The hip CAR (reminder: CAR = ‘Controlled Articular Rotation’) takes your hip through hip flexion, abduction, extension, and blending in internal and external hip rotation.  This month I will be reviewing, assessing, and refining your hip CARs at your next visits to ensure you’re performing this exercise correctly.  A few tips:

    • Keep it relatively pain-free (3 or less on your own pain scale)
    • Aim to perform at least 3 rotations per direction, per day, per hip.  Can do more as you build your tissue capacity with practice.
    • Go slow
    • Be mindful of the movement.  This is what trains the neuro-muscular connection.

The hip CAR video below showcases a standing version with an assistive device for balance:

The hip CAR video below showcases a regressed version of the hip CAR whereby I’m hugging the door frame to assist in keeping my upper body stable while focusing on just controlling the hip motion:

And, lastly, going beyond just the hip CAR exercise itself, below is a relatively recent video I made focusing on many (not all) things hip, including a quadruped (table-top) version of hip CARs:



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