Hip extensors are made up of the hamstrings; which are biceps femoris, semimembranosus and semitendinosus, and gluteus maximus. They work together to give your leg backward movement. Assisting muscles are the gluteus medius and adductor magnus.
Why are they important?
We use these muscles when we stand up from sitting, walking, running, climbing stairs and jumping and we often here AFL players injuring their hamstrings when kicking.
They are very important muscles for holding correct posture for the body. If we sit for long periods of the day, this can tighten and weaken these muscles.
Can we test these muscles?
Yes we can two common tests are Prone Hip Extension Test (PHE) and hamstring length test.
The PHE test is designed to test the pattern of muscles firing and from that we can work out the muscle imbalances.
How is this done?
As a patient you lie face down on the table with your arms at the side of your head. The practitioner will place a hand on the gluteus maximus and the other hand on the lumbar spine region. You raise your leg and the practitioner can feel what muscles are firing and in what order. It should be hamstrings, gluteus maximus, erector spinae (opposite side) than the erector spinae (on the same side). If muscles don’t fire or are in a different order than an imbalance has occurred. If the glutues maximus has not fired or is delayed we usually see the spinae muscles overcompensate creating issues and stresses on the lumbar spine.
The hamstring length test. If the hamstring test shows a shortening we than know that the gluteus maximus muscle is weak it leads to the hamstrings to compensate.
How is this done?
This test is performed by you lying face up with hips and knees in a 90° angle. The practitioner straightens one leg, normal length is 90°, less than 80° is loss of hamstring extensibility and this can lead to gluteus maximus and quadricep inhibition.
How do we exercise these muscles?
Straight-leg extension exercises work the hamstrings more than the gluteus maximus. This is can be performed using your own body weight as a beginner and adding more resistance as you grow stronger. Simply stand on one leg the opposite leg keep straight and extend hip to kick leg backwards. You can add a resistance band to your ankle or if you are at the gym you can use a cable machine.
Bent knee hip extensions works the gluteus maximus more than the hamstrings. You start on all fours with your knees bent under your hips and weight on your elbows with your forearms flat on the ground and hands crossed. Hold your abdominal muscles in and tuck your hips up towards the ceiling (prevents back arching). You then lift one leg towards the ceiling, keeping knee bent, do not lift the thigh above your hips as you lift squeeze your gluts, repeat on opposite leg.
As we sit for so long, driving, working, socialising and watching TV our hip extensors tighten. Stretching during the week can help.
To stretch the hamstrings you can lie on your back with your knees bent. Raise one leg on the air and point your toes towards the ceiling (you can deepen this by using a resistant band).
To stretch the Gluteus maximus you can sit on a armless chair, place one ankle on the opposite thigh, lengthen your spine and lean forward so your body leans towards your thighs.
If you would like to find out more please call 5310 6259 to schedule an appointment.
Thank you Rach