The benefits of training and developing the ability to actively compress the hips have huge carryover to many areas of life. Proper active compression development benefits are endless when it comes to easing back pain, developing strength through the midsection, and keeping you healthy and active for many decades to come.
Developing solid compression strength of the hips will help you build core strength and endurance, something which is absolutely necessary for functional work of any kind. In addition, learning this skill teaches you how to move your entire body safely and effectively.
Most adults are so inflexible in their hamstrings that they cannot even touch their toes. This is a serious deficiency and one that can be limiting to a wide variety of movements.
The pike position is one of the most common ranges of motion with which people with tight hamstrings will struggle. A basic pike just means that your body is bent in half at the hips, and it is most often performed standing or seated.
Active compression of the hips takes it one step further, and rather than just letting gravity passively fold your upper body over your lower, you actually lift and “compress” your legs to your torso.
So how do you go about increasing your hamstring flexibility and pike compression? One important realization is that it is not just your muscles that are restricting your motion, but also your fascia and connective tissues, which can be very tough and stiff.
Movements and static holds like a Seated Pikes and L-Sits can help gradually loosen up fascia by providing the body with a bit more stimulus for adaptations to take place.
While we are developing our active compression with our "Strength" movements, we will also work in some integrated mobility movements. The purpose of the integrated mobility is to help develop and/or preserve the appropriate amount of flexibility and mobility in the joints that we are working.
Often times our muscles are much more prepared for the demands that we place on them than the supporting structures like the ligaments and tendons. By pairing an mobility movement with every strength movement we are helping to ensure that injuries are limited to a minimum.
Here is the next step on your way to developing better compression strength (Core B - Life Progression 2):
Set a running clock (start from 0:00) and perform the strength movement at the beginning of every even minute, and the mobility movement at the beginning of every odd minute.
An example would look like this:
0:00 Strength set 1
1:00 Mobility set 1
2:00 Strength set 2
3:00 Mobility set 2
4:00 Strength set 3
5:00 Mobility set 3
6:00 Strength set 4
7:00 Mobility set 4
8:00 Strength set 5
9:00 Mobility set 5
The Strength movement for progression 1 is: Seated Pike x 30 seconds
The Mobility movement for progression 1 is: Seated Shoulder Extension Stretch x 30 seconds
As we have established, the pike position is one of the most common ranges of motion with which people with tight hamstrings will struggle.
A basic pike means that your body is bent in half at the hips, and it is most often performed standing or seated.
Active compression of the hips takes it one step further, and rather than just letting gravity passively fold your upper body over your lower, you actually lift and compress your legs to your torso.
The Seated Pike is a preparatory movement to help develop the ability to perform an L-Sit.
The Seated Pike, as the name suggests, in a seated pike position on the ground with your leg straight, toes pointed.
Reach your hands out in front of you just outside your hips keeping your arms straight.
From this position, maintain forward lean from your hips, not rounding your back, and actively lift your legs off the ground, extending your knees, keeping your feet off the ground.
Perform each movement at the beginning of every minutes (alternating between the Strength movement and the Mobility movement).
Make sure that during the Seated Pike that you keep your torso "tall" and attempt to hinge at your hip and not round at your back during the entirety of the set.
For the Seated Shoulder Extension Stretch make sure that you pull the middle of the back upward strongly and that the necks position mimics the spines position throughout the movement.
To properly execute the Seated Shoulder Extension Stretch, start from a seated position on the floor, legs straight, toes pointed, and reach your arms behind you with your palms down.
Try to do two things here: 1) Get your hands as close together as possible (ideally pinky fingers touching).
2) Walk your hands as far back as possible (or scoot your lower body as far forward as possible).
Your goal here is to get your shoulders closer to the ground, thus demonstrating full shoulder extension range of motion.
The specific movements and times that you will perform should look like this:
0:00 Seated Pike x 30 seconds
1:00 Seated Shoulder Extension Stretch x 5 reps
2:00 Seated Pike x 30 seconds
3:00 Seated Shoulder Extension Stretch x 5 reps
4:00 Seated Pike x 30 seconds
5:00 Seated Shoulder Extension Stretch x 5 reps
6:00 Seated Pike x 30 seconds
7:00 Seated Shoulder Extension Stretch x 5 reps
8:00 Seated Pike x 30 seconds
9:00 Seated Shoulder Extension Stretch x 5 reps
If you can perform both the Strength and Integrated Mobility movements for the prescribed time/reps with no pain then you may be ready to move on to the next progression.
It is recommended that you repeat each level of progression 2-3 times before moving on to the next level of progression.
Check out the movement demo videos below, and if you have any questions feel free to reach out to us. Good luck!