Improve Frontal Plane Motion to Gain Transverse Plane Motion in the Hip

Through thousands of gait and motion analysis I have observed clients with limited hip range of motion in the transverse plane, particularly into internal hip rotation, are also tight in hip adduction of the frontal plane.  Many years ago I made the mistake of trying to improve hip internal rotation with various stretches and movement patterns that emphasized hip internal rotation.  The clients were uncomfortable and had limited success.

I realized if I mobilize them under their own body weight and gained movement into hip adduction, it became much easier to gain transverse plane hip internal rotation.  The Wallbanger is an excellent movement pattern to gain both hip adduction in the frontal plane; and hip internal rotation in the transverse plane.

Have your client stand with their shoulder near a wall and about 4-6 inches from the wall.  Remind them to stand tall.  Tell them to imagine a flashlight in their navel.  I call this their Beacon of Life.  This is a cue to use as the client rotates, as rotation should come from the hips.  Where the pelvis goes, the low back will follow.

Essentially, the Wallbanger is a rotational squat.  Have the client start into a squat, however as they descend and turn away from the wall,  they should shine the Beacon of Life toward the foot furthest from the wall.  Also, have them reach with both arms at waist height.  The natural tendency is to turn and reach.  Yet to maintain balance, the hip closest to the wall will bang into the wall; hence the name Wallbanger.

From a biomechanical perspective, as the rotational squat is being performed, the ankle is dorsiflexing, tibia rotates inward, calcaneus everts, and forefoot abducts.  This allows the tibia to rotate medially, and the knee to flex.  Additionally, the femur rotates inward, hip flexes, and adducts.  This will optimally load the gluteal complex in three planes of motion.

We use this movement pattern with the sedentary population, those that have knee, hip, low back or thoracic spine issues, and shoulder problems.  Have the client move to their threshold or however deep their myofascial system will allow.  As they are under their own body weight and the tissues eccentrically loads, they will inherently become stronger.  After each repetition, the client gradually increases range of motion through the kinetic chain.  Pay close attention to the Big Movement Rocks, i.e. foot/ankle complex, his, and thoracic spine to make sure the motion comes from these regions.

As the client gets more mobile and stronger, you can then add external weights such as weighted vest, dumbbells, ViPR’s, or ActiveMotion Bars to increase the load.

Please watch the video and notice the action from the Big Movement Rocks.  One last point, some clients with tightness in the hips or foot complex have expressed discomfort in their knee closest to the wall.  Typically this results from hip tightness.  I have had the client turn that foot inward about 5-10 degrees and the discomfort has subsided.  Once they gain mobility in the hip, have them turn their foot back toward neutral a few degrees and continue with the movement pattern.  Once greater range of motion is improved, they can try doing the exercise with the foot forward.  In most cases, the knee discomfort disappeared.

Good luck and to you good health!


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Human Motion Associates is dedicated to understanding the reactions of muscles and joints to improve efficiency of performance through movement science. Our goal is to enhance health through activities of daily living.

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