Example 1Patient presented difficulty lifting his left arm to his ear after a work injury. We focused on his shoulder but the last bit of motion remained painful and limited. I noticed his right leg position rested outward when he was lying on his back. As a result, I decided to take action on his hip mobility. I stretched and mobilized his hip to allow for more neutral position. After 5 minutes of stretching and mobilizing, he had full pain free shoulder motion.
|Shows foot pointed outward |
as a result of tight hips
|Picture shows fascial connections between the|
hip/pelvis and the shoulder girdle
Picture from Born to Walk: Myofascial
Efficiency and the Body in Movement
by James Earls
Why?Our body is held together by connective tissue which connects our muscles so our body can work together as a system. Tight hip flexors will stiffen the anterior aspect of the trunk and turn the leg outward. This tightness will increase the tension when lifting the arm overhead.
Try This: Raise your right arm overhead and take notice of how your shoulder feels. Now, with the left hand grab and hold the bottom corner of your shirt in your hand. How does it feel? It should feel harder to lift your arm.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Adding arm movements to your stretches allows you to capture the 3 planes of motion, target different angles of the muscles, and ultimately provides a more comprehensive stretch. After the stretch, I recommend performing high knee marches at different angles to activate the newly stretched muscle tissue.
Example 2A baseball player has shoulder pain only when he pitches. Standard treatment would address his tendonitis. After checking his hip rotation in a standing position, he has limited external rotation of his right hip. Performing joint mobilizations to provide more external rotation eliminates his shoulder pain while throwing.
The top video shows pitching mechanics with a throwing warm up but before hip flexor stretching. The bottom video shows pitching mechanics with a throwing warm up and hip flexor stretching. Notice the difference in mechanics. The bottom video shows improved hip opening, shoulder position upon release, and improve knee flexion during the follow through.
These examples demonstrate how the hip can affect the shoulder in everyday tasks and in overhead athletes. The body is connected and works as a system. We need to find the source of the problem and not just treat symptom.