So, you’ve found out that you or your athlete has got a hip internal rotation deficit (HIRD). Here’s how to go about putting it right.
The HIRD Action Plan
Yes, this is oversimplifying things somewhat, but there are two main causes for HIRD that we will look to focus on initially; inhibition or weakness of the internal rotators and tightness or overactivity of the external rotators. Today we’ll cover strengthening, tomorrow mobility.
Internal Rotator Strengthening
Personally I’ve found that strengthening exercises elicit the greatest improvements in range of motion (ROM) in the short-term. Indeed it’s not uncommon to see instant improvements in ROM after performing IR strengthening exercises. Here’s my top 3:
90/90 Internal Rotation
You’ll need a theraband or something similar for this one. The starting position for this exercise is flat on your back with the hips and knees flexed to 90o. Loop the band around each ankle and place a foam roller or rolled up towel between your knees. To perform the exercise, keep the knees stationary and try to move the feet away from one another. This exercise can also be performed seated or prone, however supine would be my personal preference.
Straight Leg Internal Rotation
Don’t put the band away yet. This time loop it around the foot of the leg to be worked; it should loop around the foot like the bottom of a Jegging (before you say anything, yes, I have managed to fit Jeggings into an article about IR). Now attach the other end of the band to a stable anchor point such as a table leg or the side of a squat rack. The anchor should be to the left of your body when working the left leg and vice versa for the right. To perform the exercise begin flat on your back with your leg straight and heel on the floor before rotating the toes toward the body – clockwise for the left, anti-clockwise for the right.
Traditionally clams are used to strengthen the deep gluteal muscles into external rotation however we can switch this little beauty around to target the IR’s. The added bonus is that it also doesn’t require any equipment. Lie on your side, bring your hips up to 45o and flex your knees to 90o. Keep the knee of the working leg pressed against the other and then move the foot towards the ceiling. Simples.
Guidelines for Strengthening Exercises
I generally look for about 10-15 reps for 3-4 sets in total with most individuals with HIRD; it doesn’t have to be all in one exercise though, feel free to mix-and-match. Don’t go anywhere near failure here, keep the form spot on and make sure you work through your entire ROM. If you’ve got IR problems then these are performed in the warm-up and also on recovery days, however, I would recommend that everyone puts a set or two of these into their lower body warm-up. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes when performing deep squats!
So, until tomorrow, get busy strengthening those IR’s…