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How To Stretch Hip Flexors

“Why Are My Hip Flexors so Tight?” How To Stretch Hip Flexors (Release Or Strengthen?)

 

 

Concerning how to stretch hip flexors, I have seen, performed and taught every conceivable method of releasing them from tightness.

As a flexibility specialist, I stretched thousands of patients and athletes using the most popular muscle and fascial release techniques. I got so proficient with these stretch techniques, I taught seminars to other doctors and therapists…

As a neuromuscular therapist, I performed soft tissue techniques to release muscles from strain and tightness. I learned how to perform manual Trigger Point Therapy from a few masters.

As a performance enhancement specialist, I integrated PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) stretching and neuromuscular therapy with dynamic exercise for reestablishing normal movement patterns for the muscles and fascia we worked on.

This journey was all in an effort to discover how to stretch hip flexors and release strain and tightness for two main reasons – to create more…

  1. Stability in the lower back and pelvis, and
  2. Mobility in the hips and the thoracic spine.

We have been in the habit of looking at certain muscles like how to stretch hip flexors, and thinking they are too short and tight. Here's what we'll cover in this post:

  • Logical thing to do with short tight muscles,
  • Primary hip flexors causing problems, &
  • 4 Reasons hips flexors are short and tight.

 

Logical thing to do w/ short tight muscles

In the past 15 years, with the help of some of the most renowned doctors, therapists, strength coaches, trainers and skills coaches, I have developed a much different view on how to treat these short, tight muscles. It has completely changed my understanding of how to stretch hip flexors.

If we have short, tight hip flexors, we should ask ourselves:

  • “WHY are they so short and tight?” And,
  • “WHAT are the restrictions to these muscles performing to their highest capability”?

Primary hip flexors causing problems

How To Stretch The Hip Flexor

How To Stretch The Hip Flexor: psoas major muscle

There are four primary hip flexors but the one we hear about most, the one that causes us the most problems is the psoas major muscle. When we hear or read about the psoas major, 99% of the problems associated are attributed to it being short and tight.

The psoas major is responsible for lifting the thigh once it gets to 90° (parallel the floor), and everything after that, about another 45%. So it would seem that if it is short and tight, it would easily be able to lift the thigh to its limit. That is actually opposite to what happens.

If it is short and tight, it will also be weak and won't be able to perform its normal function to full capacity. There are also neurological reasons it won't be able to perform, but that's a little complicated for this article.

Important to swinging and throwing athletes, the psoas major is also responsible for stabilizing the lower back, that is where it attaches to the lower spine. If the psoas major is short, tight and weak, it does a poor job of stabilizing against dynamic rotation and puts the lower back at high risk of injury.

The lower back will also become tighter as a protective mechanism and will not completely release its tension until the psoas major is strengthened through its entire range of motion, among other things.

 

4 Reasons hips flexors are short and tight

Problem #1

There are restrictors to the movement of the psoas major. These are mainly the deep hip muscles (the deep external hip rotators) and the hamstrings.

Solution to #1

Strengthen these muscles, don't constantly stretch them. A strong muscle is much more flexible than a weakened muscle due to constant stretching.

Problem #2

The psoas major is WEAK because it has been constantly stretched, massaged, released, etc.

Solution to #2

Since the psoas major is almost 100% responsible for lifting the thigh past 90° to about 135%, it needs to be strengthened against some sort of resistance through its entire range of motion.

Problem #3

Almost everyone in our society sits for most of our non-athletic activities – driving, working at a desk, watching TV, reading, texting, etc.

Solution to #3

If we sit as part of our lifestyle, we will probably not change that. What we CAN do is to super strengthen our glutes, hamstrings and the deep external hip rotators. Those are the opposite muscles to the sitting muscles and they will help to release them as soon as we stand up and start moving.

Problem #4

If the hip flexors are unequal in the balance of strength, they will not be able to lift the thigh symmetrically. If the psoas major is weak, a muscle called the TFL (tensor fascia lata) will pull the hip and thigh outward and will create very complicated problems that are difficult to resolve in both the hips and lower back.

Solution to #4

Strengthen the TFL and hip in internal hip rotation against a strong rotational resistance, THEN strengthen the psoas major through its full lifting action, against resistance.

For those who have access to the two RotexMotion floor models, here's the Inward Hip Rotation exercise to accomplish this…

 

Jaime Cevallos Part-3 Interview: How to Turn Harmful Instruction into Safe & Effective

 

 

In case you missed any of the 3-part series…

Here's what we're going to discuss in Part-3 of the Jaime Cevallos interview:Do You Recognize The #1 Early Warning Sign Of Physically Harmful Hitting Instruction?

  • To show the numbers or not to show the numbers?
  • What about hand path?  What would you say about that?
  • Wrist snap: supinating snap or pronating snap?  And,
  • Why ‘barrel moves body' approach is wearing holes in low backs.

The following is the transcription of the above video.  You can find Jaime Cevallos at the following places:

Enjoy!

 

To Show the Numbers or Not to Show the Numbers?

Joey Myers  00:05

…left field, right?  Righties are always going to be showing their numbers more than lefties but it's only because of the angle. If you see a lefty really showing his numbers like Robinson Cano… legit like him and Trout are probably pretty equal and how much of the numbers that they show. They say it takes the eyes off the ball, and then they call it false separation.

 

Joey Myers  00:29

They say you're moving away from contact. And I'm like, well, they obviously don't know how the human movement like looking basic locomotion, right? Because it's all about spirals. It's all about rotation, pre-loading the torso before you get to landing that's what it's all about. That's how you take the slack out.

 

Joey Myers  00:46

And the other thing is, after they started to soften to it some of these guys that were teaching the guys, some of the stuff we've been talking about the philosophy, the barrel moving the body. After a while then it was like okay, well I see guys doing that I see guys showing their numbers but they can't get to an inside pit like 97 in like that.

 

Joey Myers  01:06

So I went online I looked up Craig Hyatt's page, I looked up videos of all those guys we mentioned in this video so far maybe and all these guys and I was looking for 95 plus inside and was trying to see because one of my hitters actually this was about three years ago. Hitter's been with me since he was seven, he's now driving, he's got his license, he's 16 now he's pretty clean Catapult Loading System wise, like the stuff we're talking about today.

 

Joey Myers  01:31

And he was having a hard time and I was teaching that deep barrel dump, that barrel in the zone super early, no matter if the balls in middle or away didn't matter, barrel dump. We were throwing live and I'm throwing to him and he's like, coach, I don't feel like I can get to that inside pitch. He goes, am I showing my showing my numbers too much. I was like, ah, I don't think so. But let me do some research.

Joey Myers  01:50

I went to Craig Hyatt's page. I was looking at 95 plus inside. I was looking at those specific hitters that do this, where there's a lot of them doesn't take long to find them. On pitches that were fastball that hard inside, were they, the question was, were they still showing their numbers or showing their numbers less than if they would on an outside pitch? And the answer that came up was clear as day, was that they showed their numbers the same regardless of the pitch. It's not something like a stride…

 

Jaime Cevallos  02:20

Showing numbers happens before you know where the pitch is.

 

Joey Myers  02:23

Yeah, yeah! You can't like, adjust on the fly, right? You're just loading your body and getting ready. That answered my question. I was like, okay, these guys that are saying, “Well, you can't do it, inside, 97 in.” It was like, Okay, well, what, what's the difference then. And what I'm going to reveal, this is a talk for another video, probably would have to go into this one.

 

Joey Myers  02:48

The difference was when the barrel entered the zone. If the ball was in, middle, inner third. What they did was they tucked the barrel closer to their shoulder…up, up, up, up, up, up… and then what we call the belly button catcher's glove, they release the barrel… Imagine a catcher in line with the hitter’s belly button. If they release their barrel in line with the hitter’s belly button catcher's belly, but like they're knocking the catcher's glove off that's in line with the hitter’s belly button. Right?

 

Joey Myers  03:19

Barry Bond swings… A lot of times, he would hit pitches that seem to be like right here, and he frickin hit him into the, into the bay. Right? And he couldn't do that. If he's dumping his barrel early. It's not going to happen.

 

Joey Myers  03:35

So that was what I found out again, that's a talk for probably for another video. But that was what I found out. It wasn't about showing numbers. There was no, all the objections they were raising, well, it pulls the hitters eyes off the ball. No, not if you use the head as an anchor. You know, you can't hit 97 in like that. Well, no, we see them hitting 97 like that, but it's something else. You're not, what is in the way of view accepting this is we're talking about something totally different has nothing to do with showing numbers.

 

Joey Myers  04:05

You can't disagree that they don't show their numbers. I mean, it's right there clear is day, and their video, they're big on video analysis and that's what's silly that's what's clownish about the whole thing.

 

Jaime Cevallos  04:17

What about a hand path? You could do all what you're asking a hitter to do but then you could have the bar arm, the arm the front arm barred or you could come in like this. What would you say about that?

 

What about Hand Path?  What would you say about that?

Joey Myers  04:46

So you got, again, the swing is a journey. It's not a destination, right? So especially with younger hitters, so I have my hitters right now I don't work with many that are below unless they're online, below age 11 or 12. Because we do small private groups and it's harder for the young ones to work into groups with older guys. Most of my guys are high school going into college and I have a few Junior highers going into high school and stuff like that.

 

Joey Myers  05:11

So the younger ones that tend to have a harder time with it, especially the ones you're talking about that are very linear with their hands, they're going here.  And I have one right now who's actually a junior in high school. He's made huge strides. He was barely able to, he was knocking on the door to 70 miles an hour ball exit speed when he first started with him. This was probably about a year and a half ago, and he's now at 83. I think he's topping out off the backspin tee which is pretty impressive because backspin tee takes off about three miles an hour from a Tanner tee.

 

Joey Myers  05:44

Backspin tee, that's equivalent to Tanner tees 86. In a game, he's hitting 86 plus a plus five in a game. He's hitting 91 in a game pretty good for a junior, right? But the problem we're having with him and I'm thinking we've been doing some movement stuff with the RotexMotion and different things like that. And that's where his improvements have come. And that's, by the way, 83 with wood, not bad.

 

Joey Myers  06:08

And the big problem we're having with him is that when he turns, we get him into a position where he's barred out. But like you said, what happens if they bend and they come through this way, and that's kind of what he's doing. What we do and this takes a little bit of time, at least from my understanding, we're doing what's called a wrist snap, a deep tee wrist snap.

 

Wrist Snap: Supinating Snap or Pronating Snap?

Joey Myers  06:31

See if I can even try this on film, you can see what that is. Basically, what a wrist snap, choke up so i don't hit my computer, so wrist snap would be… See we get into that barred position; you can still hear me Jaime I'm not too far away. You get into that position and then as I'm coming around, so what I'm going to do is, this is the other thing that you see on video, you'll see the major leaguers, the elite hitters, you'll see their knob stop at a certain point.

 

Joey Myers  07:01

And then this snap comes around. Yeah, I'm exaggerating it here. But in high speed, it actually looks like what the guys are doing. The knob has to stop at a certain point. And then we snap it around. Like when you throw a ball, you get that snap with the hand. What do they call it up? Pronating. Not supinating. Like a lot of these guys teach, they talk about supinating this way, right? This is actually pronating this way.

 

Joey Myers  07:26

Again, I'm exaggerating just because we're going in slow motion here, but the knob will stop, and then the barrel comes around and pivots. Okay, so a lot of those kids you're talking about are bend, and then the knob keeps going. And then what they do is they end up pronating, if when we learn how to do this, and that's what this particular kid is doing, but they do it way out in front.

 

Joey Myers  07:50

They've already hit the ball, palm up, palm down, and then their balls going away and then they're pronating.  Instead of palm up, palm down at contact and then pronating right away like that. Pronation already starts before they even hit the ball. It's not over though it's not that we're not rolling. It doesn't look like it's rolling over yet. They're still here. But then you get that snap at the end like Hank Aaron would do, right?

 

Joey Myers  08:14

How I teach it is, at first it was imagining you have a red laser here and then coming out of the knob and a green laser coming out of the end here. What you're doing is you're replacing red with green, red with green. And if you watch Griffey, Griffey’s a big one, you watch him do it and everything just snaps right through.

 

Joey Myers  08:36

We evolved the laser part, the laser, they can figure that out. But to get them to physically do it, I found it was a little tough. So then what I tell them is I want them to snap the barrel past their hands. If their hands and their barrel were in a race, I want their barrel to win. And that seems to help, and I'll change that up, I might say snap, so for some hitters, and this comes to what you're alluding to the problem is, they're over rotating their upper half.

 

Joey Myers  09:06

At contact, they're in this type of position. Because they're not taking slack out of the system or they're not snapping, they're not making the body move.  Or their lower half is over rotated. We have to under rotate, their upper or lower half. So the deep tee snap, what we do is how we set that up, is we have them set up a tee, whether it's backspin or Tanner, or whatever, we have them set the tee up slightly deeper than they would normally, middle middle of the plate, where the ball is lined up at landing with their front hip.

 

Joey Myers  09:37

Okay, so normally, if they're going to hit that, they're going to try and hit that to the opposite field, because it's a little deeper on them.  But what we challenge them to do in three phases. The first phase, we call it a 1.0 swing. We practice that red laser to green laser. We just have them sit on a chair or a bucket and we just have them practice that motion and practice that motion in a way where the knob stops at their rib-cage, and then they snap it around and switch it. That's the first phase.

 

Joey Myers  10:05

Second phase 2.0, where they get to landing position, they get to their landing position create their tension in their neck, in their head, in their Catapult Loaded Position. And then from there, they got their tee setup deep. And then you'd have them snap it and they have to actually pull it, they have to pull it into the, for righties, left side of the cage, lefties right side of the cage, they can't hit it oppo.

 

Joey Myers  10:26

They have to be forced to really snap it around. So those players that do this with their hands, they have a hard time with it because at first, they hit soft stuff to the opposite way until they get good, and part of it is getting good at it is a strength thing. We use a lot of heavy bat stuff because they have to learn how to maneuver that snap and be able to control it.

 

Joey Myers  10:46

And it's like a pinball machine, the flapper right?  If you want to hit a ball, a pinball, to the right side of the table, you got to hit it in a certain position and you got it the directions got to go that way. If you want to pull it You know, same type of thing. The snap is we can, I can practice my snaps to right. I can practice them to center and I can practice them the left. It's getting familiar with the move, and the hitters that are opposite, they bat left, throw right or bat right, throw left, they're going have a harder time because now they're controlling that with their top hand. They're going to have a hard time in the beginning, but usually takes those hitters about a week more to get it then then the right right or the left left.

 

Jaime Cevallos  11:29

Okay. I just want to be respectful of your time as well.

 

Joey Myers  11:35

Yeah, I got a little bit of time if you're if you're good, I'm good.

 

Jaime Cevallos  11:40

I actually don't have…

 

Joey Myers  11:43

I'll be respectful of your time today.

 

Jaime Cevallos  11:48

But I do want to ask really quick what is the worst thing that's being taught out there right now, to be on the negative side of things.

 

Why ‘Barrel Moves the Body' Approach is Wearing Holes in Low Backs

Joey Myers  12:01

I know there's so much but you know, to prioritize that, I would say the worst thing is that barrel moves the body because…

 

Jaime Cevallos  12:08

And that you're referring to, I believe, teacher man's teaching where basically he says that this is a really interesting approach and I agree with you, it's absolutely crazy to think that basically you're the center of the swing is, is when you snap the barrel back like that. Okay, so that to you is…

 

Joey Myers  12:38

Here's, here's the thing, right? I'm okay with that. Middle away and middle down. I'm okay with that. That barrel entering the zone early is fine, because you're making contact later in the zone. So again, like my player that got tested, and found out that he was maximizing barrel bat speed behind him, but by the time he got the impact, which was maybe an inside pitch, maybe middle in, maybe middle up. His barrel was slowing down but that time.

 

Joey Myers  13:04

You can't teach all hitters to do that all the time because it depends. I like his approach. I love teacher man's approach. I'm not I'm not trying to put him down. I love his approach middle away, middle down. And if I have a hitter who is a physically swinging down hitter, which I don't have too many, most of them are barrel dropping type hitters, so we have to go the other way.

 

Joey Myers  13:27

I like his approach, middle away, middle down, or if the hitter is physically swinging down, like he's got too short of an approach. I'm good with it. The problem that I have with it is that they're teaching it to all hitter’s blueprint, blueprinting to all hitters. Regardless of pitch depth: inside, middle or away, it's the same barrel path all the time doesn't for one that's not going to work middle and middle up. Doesn't work very well. Not very consistently, let me say, consistently.

 

Joey Myers  13:56

The other thing is I see all these hitters arch their backs. I see them arching their backs in a way that is putting these hitters in harm's way big time, like, of course, an 11 year old, 12 year old, they're not going to feel it yet, but by the time they're our age, they're going to have a hole in their back, they're going to have back spasms, herniated discs, all kinds of stuff. If they continue to do that swing after swing after swing after swing.

 

Joey Myers  14:17

I like the approach but being safe with it, meaning we call it the hollow position, taking your belly button and your belt buckle and pinching those two points together. That puts up more of a flex in the lower back. And if you can hold that flex and do what teacher man’s telling you middle down middle away, it's a great approach. I love it. But I see too many back arching and turning and at that point, it just makes me want to puke.

 

Jaime Cevallos  14:47

I think it's important that we talk about everyone, everyone's theories of the swing and get it out there basically, I think right now a lot of it is just so hard to understand what exactly the people think, what do people think about the swing. I appreciate you coming on, I think we need to do this more guys who have popular theories about the swing. Come out and explain it. I think this is good. I would love to ask you more questions, but we filled up the time already. Let me give you a chance to tell people where they can find you.

 

“Where can People Find you?”

Joey Myers  15:46

Sure. Thanks, Jamie. I appreciate the time and we'll do a part 2, 3, 4 whatever. But people can find me HittingPerformanceLab.com, you can go. There's a lot information 300+ blog posts been doing that since like 2014 I think is when I came out with the blog, there's a lot there use the search bar the top for whenever you have a query.  I have it all in the navigation bar separated by popular blog posts and then I have it by blog posts that have to do it build more power, hit more line drives, get on time more often and then I have other blog posts in there too.

 

Joey Myers  16:20

That can help to filter the information so you can find out what you need. And then the other part and you can find me on the socials, either Joey Myers just type in “Joey Myers” or “hitting performance lab” and you can find me there on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn be Joey Myers and Instagram.

 

Joey Myers  16:38

I'm going to be doing some different stuff here in the next probably couple weeks I'm going to change around what I'm doing to make it a little bit more user friendly. So that's where you can find me and then TheStartingLineupStore.com is where I have the… It started off as the nine best hitting aids on the planet but you know there's a little bit more than nine so I couldn't stick to that but it is the hitting aides that I use and others use and things like that. So HittingPerformanceLab.com in TheStartingLineupStore.com.

 

Jaime Cevallos  17:06

Awesome. Thank you so much, Joey. And till next time take care, buddy.

 

Joey Myers  17:10

Got it bud thank you.

 

Jaime Cevallos  17:12

All right.

Answered: “Helping Get Youth Players To Stay On Plane And Not Dip Their Bodies When They Swing?”

 

 

In the above video, we'll be discussing:

  • Relationship between spinal engine and shoulder behavior in healthy effective swing,
  • Causes of unhealthy “dipping” of body in swing,Do You Recognize The 6 Early Warning Signs Of Hitters Dipping Their Bodies?
  • Head stability,
  • Arching low back,
  • Straightening out back leg,
  • Over-rotating upper half,
  • Over-rotating lower half, and
  • Core instability.

Hey, what's going on. It's Joey Myers again from the “Hitting Performance Lab. In this video, we're gonna answer a reader question, this one is asking for advice to:

“Helping get youth players to stay on plane, and not dip their bodies when they swing”.

Now a couple things we have to define here, what ‘dipping’ is…

 

Relationship between Spinal Engine and Shoulder Behavior in Healthy Effective Swing

This is important to cover. Because there is some dipping that goes on, but I want to define what's good versus what's bad. What we should see with hitters, and good healthy spinal engine mechanics is, say with the righty, the shoulders will start in somewhat of a slightly down position, we call this the ‘Downhill shoulder’, and it's just a side bend.

David Weck, founder of the BOSU ball, the RMT Club, and a lot of other cool stuff. He talks about this idea of the head over foot technique. The head shifts slightly over towards the front stride landing foot.  The side bend is crucial to the actual opposite action that's gonna happen during the swing.

We're gonna see the teeter totter effect of the shoulders starting down, and then they're gonna flip up as I start my turn. Then what we should see is this shoulder, if we track the left one for a righty starts down, pops up. As we finish, should be back down again.  Think about those beautiful images of Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, in their finish, and the righties are kind of in this position. The lefties are in the opposite position.

We want to see a healthy accelerating-decelerating spinal engine, that is the healthy dipping that we should see if the shoulders or side bending.

 

6 Causes of Unhealthy “Dipping” of Body in Swing

1. Head Stability

I call it a ‘Collapsing backside’, so one of the causes of this is head stability. We'll see a hitter will go chin to chest, when they're at impact, going right into their sternum with their chin. Sometimes we'll see the head go up (like looking up into the sky), we'll see the bill of the cap go this way, and we'll see the rear ear going to the rear shoulder, so for righties, right ear to the right shoulder. For lefties, left ear to the left shoulder.

There are some hitters in the big leagues that do this a little bit, they used to do this actually more in the past, they've been cleaning it up. But Andrew McCutchen used to go chin to chest, Bryce Harper would go rear ear to shoulder, Prince Fielder did what Harper did.  You even see Nolan Arenado more chin to chest. Because he tries to leave his head at impact, which I don't recommend for younger hitters. When the head is in an unstable position, this creates a threat to the central nervous system. Wherever the head goes, the body follows.

If the head “rolls” (like Harper/Fielder)…when we're rolling the head this way, you'll see a collapsing of the backside, you see the whole body will dip, and it's not a very strong position. Head stability is one of them, one of the causes of an unhealthy dipping of the body in the swing.

2. Arching low back

Arching the lower back, kind of similar to the neck, the C-spine. When we start arching the lower lumbar during rotation, which isn't very good because you're pushing the vertebrae together, and then rotating them, so you're basically grinding. So, we don't want to do that, and if we're doing that, sometimes we'll see this collapsing to the backside as well. You want to do it what's called a ‘Hollow position’, or a ‘Hollow hold’, you can go on YouTube, and search “hollow hold gymnastics”, and you can find a video on how to practice this.  It's basically taking the curve out of our lower lumbar, or lower back.

Imagine you're lying on your back, on the ground, like you're gonna do a crunch, you got your feet on the ground, your knees are up, and you go to do a crunch. What you have to do first is push your lower back into the ground, just want to push hard in the ground, create some pressure into the ground through your lower back.  That's taking the curve out of your lower back, and doing what we call a hollow position. It's a posterior tilting of the pelvis for those kinetic nerd jockeys like me.

3. Straightening out Back Leg

The other thing that could be causing dipping of the body in the swing is straightening out the back leg.  This tends to follow both head instability, and/or arching of the low back.

The glute fires, the back glute, for righties the right glute, and the right quad fires to straighten the knee. It's the hamstring that we see in professional studies of hitters, back hamstring that's turning on a lot more than you see in amateur hitters, where they tend to try and lock that back knee out. The glute locks out, and what's happening is that back glute is trying to support and create stability in the lower back. Because it's going into a bad position, a compromised position. As long as we can fix the hollow, get them into more of a hollow position, we fix the head movement with the neck brace drill. Not a stiff neck brace, but a soft one.  We don't want to immobilize the head, just create feedback for movement.

If you can correct this, you can crack the lower back – metaphorically speaking of course – then you can start to work the hitter into bending that back knee a little bit more, using the hamstring, lesser the quad, and lesser the glute. Those are again trying to protect that lower back, that can be a major cause of unhealthy dipping in the swing.

4. Over-rotating Upper Half

I am starting to actually see this in some of my hitters, not in a lot but a few of them.  Where they're actually over rotated at impact. They're making contact almost behind themselves, and their sternum in the middle of their chest is out over in left field (for righties, reverse for lefties). We must get them to under rotate, so we do a lot of “deep” tee drills, and get them to try and pull the ball off a deep positioned tee. You set it up almost in line with the hitter’s belly button, and get them to kind of hook it, and hook it around to slow down that sternum.  The hitter should look and feel like they're swinging their arms across their body. 

The upper half over rotating, we can also over rotate the lower half…

5. Over-rotating Lower Half

So, we use a VeloPro to strap it to the back hip and back ankle.  We get them to try and keep the back heel on the ground (like George Springer), and keep the back foot sideways. If they're over rotating, it could cause a collapse of the backside as well. Again, we want to be effective between our 90 degrees of fair territory, and when we over rotate either the upper or the lower half, then what we're doing is we're sliding our 90 over into foul territory, which doesn't do us any good, any of our hitters any good.

The last thing I want to add in this video is fixing core instability…

6. Core Instability

There are things that you can do at the gym with your trainer, hopefully your trainer is versed on mobility and stability exercises (certified in the Functional Muscle Screen – FMS, or in TPI). When we're talking core stability, you want to do a lot of things like planks:

So, you're creating some rotation in there as well. You also want to do like ‘Hollow holds”, you want do things like that, you want to do maybe suitcase carries, where you're carrying a dumbbell on one side of the body and trying to keep your shoulders square, things like that you can do. You can ask your trainer on how to create more core stability, but those are some things to think about if you're asking yourself the same question as our reader: “Helping get youth hitters to stay on playing, and not dip their bodies when they swing”.

Work on the things we discussed, clean them up, and check them off your list. Your hitter will be in a more healthy body “dipping” position. Make sure that we're swinging smarter by moving better, and before I let you go…

Why You SHOULD NOT Use “Forearm” Or “Barrel” Cues In This Way…

Lower Back Explosion Extravaganza

Tweet from a #HittingTwit-ter

We have a lot to cover in this post, so this is what we'll be discussing:

  • Here's the problem…
  • Short anatomy lesson of the low back, and
  • What's the answer?

Most “bad” coaching cues I see out there can work in the right circumstances, for example:

  • “Swing down” – can work for hitters who have an extreme uppercut…
  • “Sit back” – can work for hitters who are too far out front…
  • “Swing up” – can work for hitters who have an extreme down swing…

 

But Here's the Problem…

I've been tracking the above swings cues for some time now, and I've found in a majority of cases, they seem to churn out one low back ticking time 💣 swing after another.  When I see one of these swings on Twitter, it's like listening to grinding teeth, someone's fat lips smacking while eating, or nails on a chalkboard.

Let me show you what I'm seeing…

Lower Back Exploding Extravaganza

Compilation of low backs exploding…

How do I know the above hitters were instructed with the coaching cues in question?

These were the hitters on proud display via the Twitter page of the above instructor's name I blurred out!  Now, he's not alone in this.  Many others like him are following the same blind mouse.

Btw, it wasn't hard to find ANY of these swings…I found them in a matter of minutes.  And to be fair, not ALL this instructor's hitters were doing this, but close to a majority.

Here's one more clear swing example, one of my readers Shawn Bell shared after seeing the video above…

Focus on nothing else but her lower back…OUCH!

Fact: hitting cues have consequences. When we teach a hitter to take focus away from basic locomotion and gait principles, and put it squarely on manipulating the “forearms” or the “barrel”, young hitters will have a higher probability of wearing a hole in their low back than not.

“Unload your barrel not your body”…

AND,

“The forearms swing the bat. The body helps”…

…are misleading at best, and not having a clue as to what drives ALL human movement.  And these instructors routinely call this a High Level Pattern (HLP).  Sad.  All I see are low backs grinding.  To me, this is a Low Level Pattern (LLP), disastrous to young moving bodies, built on a stale straw man argument, losing sight of the forest for the trees, and chasing a sunset running east.

And most importantly, this low back ticking time 💣 IS NOT found in the REAL High Level Pattern.  I challenge you to find me at least one who does this…and if you find one, I'd love to dig into his or her history of injury.

 

Short Anatomy Lesson of the Low Back

Lordosis of the Spine

Photo courtesy: MountSinai.org

Normal lordosis of spine (natural low back curve – “neutral” spine), left hand side image.  And hyperextended lordosis (or arching) of spine, right hand side image.

Arching causes the vertebrae in the spine to push together.  This isn't damaging by itself especially when done in global extension (think gymnast swinging forward under the bar), but adding in a little rotation over and over and over, and we have a low back ticking time 💣.

The REAL High Level Pattern (RHLP) is driven by the spinal engine.  Basic principles of locomotion and walking gait.  I would feel MUCH better reversing the two quoted coaching cues above to read…

“Unload your body not your barrel”…

AND,

“The body swings the bat. The forearm helps”…

This is a RHLP.  As Dr. Serge Gracovetsky (Physicist and Electrical Engineer), author of The Spinal Engine book says:

“The arms and legs aren't necessary for locomotion.  They're an enhancement.

Do you want proof to validate this statement?  Watch this… (Thanks again Shawn Bell for the giphy)

  

…The gentleman in the above video is from one of  Dr. Serge Gracovetsky's movement experiments.  He was born WITHOUT arms and legs.  The crazy part is, if you block out his black shorts with your hand, and look at the way he moves and locomotes, you'd swear this man has legs.

The low back ticking time 💣 risk hiding in your swing can be found in using “forearm” and “barrel” focused cues.  The proof is in the almost dozen swings I found in the matter of minutes on Hitting Twitter.

And if you still don't agree, then here's one of my other favorite quotes from the author of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand…

“You can avoid reality, but you can't avoid the consequences of avoiding reality”.

 

So, What's the Answer?

A safe AND effective swing.  If we're ruining lower backs, then how effective is effective?  Here's a clue, instead of arching the low back, what happens if we do the opposite (flexing v. extending)?

I'm glad you asked!  Think about flexing the lower back as putting space between the 5 vertebrae located there.  This keeps the body from putting a death squeeze on the squishy and lubricating material between the vertebrae (cartilage and synovial fluid).  It makes the spine SAFE for rotation.  You got it, NO MORE LOW BACK TICKING TIME 💣's!!!

So how do we protect our hitters and build a SAFE and Effective Swing? 

Think of your pelvis like a bowl of water.  Now, imagine a “Donald Duck” butt, where you're sticking your butt back (arching low back – Dr. Kelly Starrett in his book Becoming A Supple Leopard refers to this as “Nasty Stripper Pose”).  For the kinesiology nerds out there, this is an anterior pelvic tilt – spilling water on your toes.  This IS NOT a good pelvic position when swinging a bat or throwing a ball.

Now, doing the opposite, imagine that same bowl of pelvis water in a posterior pelvic tilt, or Pink Panther butt, think about spilling water on your heels.

I have some cues you can use with your hitters, and a couple Hitting Performance Lab resource posts to reference…

The Hollow Hold…

If you're one of those LLP instructors, and still aren't convinced…PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE for the love of God…at least strengthen your hitter's in the Hollow Hold.  I'm tired of seeing all the low back ticking time 💣's waiting to go off. You've been WARNED.

 

In Memoriam

This post is dedicated to a great friend of mine and fellow baseball coach that we lost to a brain aneurysm on Monday… (my Facebook post):

“Words cannot express my deep sadness today upon hearing of my good friend and fantastic coach Sam Flores's passing yesterday. He had no idea he was in a fight for his life – and would lose it – driving to the hospital with his family. So young. So tragic. My family and I ran into him at Costco 4 short weeks ago where we had a brief catch up on life and a big hug…you just don't know when someone's time is up. Hug your loved ones today, keep them close, and realize God is in control, not us. We love you Sam, and send my BIGGEST thoughts and prayers to your family as they go through the tragic mourning of your passing. The valley lost a wonderful Father, Husband, Friend, and ultimately a brilliant Coach. RIP my good buddy you will be missed (breaks my heart to see that little kiddo of yours) 😢😢😢