COMPENSATION: RELAXING THE TFL
Here is a simple set of movements to do at your leisure to help encourage spine length and abdominal bracing. Often, because of lifestyles, stress, and our own defaults, the hip flexors get incredibly bound up. Once muscles start to overwork compensations trickle in. For example, if your TFL is concentrically loaded (locked short. medially rotates hip shut), it will inhibit that side’s glute max functioning (glute becomes hypo-toned), as well as pull on the piriformis to do the job of the glute (hip extension), and this leads to sciatica. Another example, if the TFL is loaded eccentrically (locked long, so laterally rotates hip open) it will cause the glute medius to overactivate (work too hard- becomes hyper-toned). This will lead to inhibition of the rectus femoris on that side, and shift the pelvis laterally to that same side.
Long story short is, if we can get the TFL to be at ease, it will improve the functioning of several muscles around it (glute, hamstring, quad, TVA). And at the same time, if it can relax, then we can focus on creating length throughout some of the other hip flexors in the places where they tend to get ‘stiff’ and ‘weak short’. Thats why this week I am demonstrating a series of 3 ground movements to strengthen your TVA- the transverse abdominis. If you want to understand this muscle more- please click here.
Please watch the video and be sure to pay attention to a few minor details:
– DO NOT let your back arch off the floor when extending your leg, if this happens don’t go as far.
– Feel and concentrate on bracing your PSIS (see image below) to the ground. Focus on a straight knee.
– Make your extremities work for you, if the hand or foot is flat on the floor, be sure you are ACTIVELY pressing into them
– On the rotation work, less is more. You are doing some gentle (somatic) neural-mobilizing of the anterior and posterior oblique sling. Don’t overdo it.
– 5-15 reps is fine, reps really don’t matter. You’re more interested in fatigue and sensation in the deep abdominals.
– On the marching drill (last exercise), watch for 4 common faults: neck muscles coming into the picture (head movement), ribcage compression (ribs close towards hip when foot lifts), pelvic shift to one side, and abdominal coning (your belly domes to ceiling).
Let me know how it goes!