Hip Mobility: Treatment of External Rotation

by Dr. Brock Vosberg on August 1, 2014


Hopefully everyone has mobile hips by this point, as July kind of became Team Chiro’s “Hip Mobility Month.” This is our last post on hip mobility (for now), and it features the external hip rotators. These muscles are located on the side of the hip, and are usually a tender spot for people. If you find those boney knobs (posterior superior iliac spine) in your low back and move down roughly 2 inches and to the outside 3 inches you should be in the general vicinity of the external hip rotators. One of these muscles that you may have heard of is the piriformis muscle. When this muscle becomes overly tight or inflamed it can cause a condition called piriformis syndrome, which leads to sciatica type symptoms. If you are experiencing tight external hip rotators, you are not alone. It is not difficult for us to shorten these little muscles during our day to day activities. Think about when you drove today. Did your left knee rest against the door side panel? Or are your legs crossed while you are reading this? Those are postures promoting an imbalance of hip external rotation compared to internal rotation which will likely lead to tightness.

If we look at the Modified Thomas Test we could see four evident findings: 1) tight hip flexors 2) tight quads 3) tight IT band and 4) tight external hip rotators. In this picture we can see that the toes of the foot are turned out (toward you). This would imply tight external hip rotators.

So now that remember what we were looking for in the Modified Thomas Test. How do we go about stretching these muscles? Below are a few simple stretches and pointers to get you started in your journey toward mobility in your external hip rotators.


Seated Figure 4

– Sit at the edge of a bench or your chair

– Cross the leg of the side you want to stretch over your other knee

– Gently pull up on your shin

– Proud chest through your arms

– Hold for 6-8 seconds and repeat…then switch sides so you don’t walk in circles.

Standing Figure 4

– Get your balance

– Prop the outside of your foot up on a chair, couch, table, etc.

– Hip hinge and squat back and feel the burn!

– Hold for 6-8 seconds and then switch sides

Standing Figure 4

Remember, this first series of blogs is just introducing the most basic stretches. We will dive further into more advance stretches with various bands and functional movements incorporated into them. If you know you have tight hips, by all means try out these stretches and look for changes in your movement. Your squatting should improve, even with the simplest of stretches if they are performed correctly. Remember, if you have any questions, or the stretches are just not enough give Team Chiropractic and Rehabilitation a call, and we will get you moving in the right direction.

Disclaimer: Remember that this series should only serve as an adjunct to your healthcare professionals examination. We are are not your doctors and have not examined you; therefore, the above should not serve as medical advice. Please do not hold us liable for taking our advice as we have just advised you not to.



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