Un-Glue Your Hips! Exercise Tweaks For Anterior Chain Muscle Stiffness

I quickly want to share another great video from Kelly Starrett (@MobilityWOD) showing a couple of exercises I use on a regular basis with our athletes to work on hip mobility.

As described here, compromised ability to extend (and internally rotate) the hip effectively is a negative physical trait I observe in so many of the injured athletes I assess.

As part of a multi-faceted rehabilitation approach, exercises to work on functional hip mobility are an important piece of the puzzle in helping athletes overcome various different overuse injuries.

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Last updated on March 2nd, 2021.


  1. Starett seems like a great guy with a good message but in reality don’t you think a a well structured and balanced strength program is the meat and potatoes of any musculoskeletal rehab post rehab program.

    This exercise is great as it emphasises re-establishing tension where it’s warranted whilst liberating areas that have taken up the slack but NEWS FLASH isn’t that what any well balanced strength program/ Rx exercise would do?

    I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but stretching and mobilising all day every day is great but honestly those who apply this day in day out know it’s futile unless the window of opportunity it offers is utilised to re-establish functional movement patterns. In my experience most the time you just need appropriate queuing during household lifts rather than all this “sexy” mobility waddle shoo-har to get the same level of mobility whist generating appropriate stiffness.

    I really do apologise James as I love your stuff, but I think this stuff is severely over sold by mere fact that it is entertaining to include in blogs and “guru” posts.

    I’ve religiously mobilised and SMFR and “activated” for no less than 2 hrs a day for years and in reality it’s the former alone that I feel is all that is needed. Sure mobilising and soft tissues manipulation may be useful initially to improve positioning but really it’s not the big rock in my humble opinion.

    Anyway apologise for the rant on your blog but it needed to be said

    1. Hi Christian,

      Thanks for your input. In the text above the video, I made a point of adding the following sentence:

      “…part of a multi-faceted rehabilitation approach…”

      Apologies if the meaning has been lost in translation… But to me, this clearly means a combination of specific strengthening exercises, mobility work, hands-on treatment, gait/movement re-education, the list continues…

      As you put it, a “balanced strength program is the meat and potatoes”… but don’t forget the gravy!

      I think we all know that the goal is to ‘re-establish functional movement patterns’, and that mobility work ALONE is never going to achieve this. In fact, mobility work ALONE may make SOME athletes more symptomatic in their dysfunctional movement patterns.

      My approach is usually to begin by improving mobility where necessary, so as to enable successful cueing and strengthening of the desired movement patterns, immediately after – in the window of opportunity you rightly mention. The latter part of this is key, but can be fundamentally limited by a lack of mobility. For example trying work on G.Max when Rec.Fem is rock-solid.

      Agreed, those who suggest a mobility-heavy model is the cure-all are talking non-sense… But then that’s not Starrett’s stance either – He seems to understand that mobility is (especially for weekend warriors) the piece of the puzzle that is missing in a program including strengthening, running, lifting, swimming… etc etc

      As professionals, we know that different athletes need to work on different aspects of the ‘big picture’ of athletic development.

  2. Thanks for your professional reply. As I mentioned that wasn’t a dig at what you present or offer. Nor do I think Kelly’s message (when fully acknowledged) is wrong.

    It’s more the fact that rarely do you you come across a blog post or website that simply uses a brief mobility exercise or SMFR before demonstrating a strength exercise (ie putting it into the context it’s inherently designed for).
    Whilst many may mention as such, for the general internet browser this can easily be perceived as simply all there is to it. Throw In a few SMFR instruments or a voodoo floss and you have people distracted from the bigger picture.

    I really like the exercise you have presented here as it is effectively just a split squat but when thrown in with a band and Kelly’s infectious personality you have an audience that is drawn and convinced to give it a try.

    Anyways Merry Xmas and a Happy new year. Hope 2014 brings you good health and happiness. Thanks for the high quality of material you’ve shared this year, I’ve really enjoyed it

  3. Agree with both stances but I do have an issue with the emphasis on “Tearing” being good whilst stretching. As a PT I know what he is saying in terms of “tearing” microfibres etc etc but the average person would not and this kind of language could be misinterpreted and lead to people over cooking things. I believe all things have to potential to be over done, stretching and rehab included.

    1. Hi Dave,

      Totally agree re the ‘too much of a good thing…’ sentiment.

      I also agree that Kelly perhaps does get a bit over-excitable with his description of ‘tearing’ being a desired outcome! I hope that people will watch and take his message at face value.

      Hopefully most runners (although I can personally think of a few exceptions :)) are intelligent enough to know not to stretch into sinister-feeling pain!

  4. Hi James,

    I’m a typical weekend warrior (ultra runner, triathlete, cyclist) 6 months post op after hip labral repair. Not a medical or sports professional.

    I’ve always struggled with hip mobility and have worked hard on it (stretching, manipulation, functional work, massage, even yoga!), but with limited success or impact.My recovery has been really good (guided by PT and professional biokineticists) and I’m cycling up to 120km, running 20km and swimming 5km, but I am tentative to take up the hip mobility work again.

    This exercise looks appealing but given my recent surgery wanted to get your view on the sense of my doing it…any thoughts?


    PS loved your recent post on using your hip flexors to drive through the stride when running up hills!