A Simple Tweak to Enhance Glute and Reduce TFL Activity

Hip weakness is a common area of focus in both the rehabilitation and fitness fields.  Combine our excessive sitting postures and the majority of activities during the day that occur in the sagittal plane of motion, and hip weakness in the frontal and transverse planes is common.

There are many exercises designed to address glute medius and glute maximus strength in the transverse plane.  But a simple tweak to your posture during one of the most common exercises can have a big impact on glute activity and the balance between your glutes and TFL.


The Effect of Body Position on Lateral Band Walking

A recent study in JOSPT analyzed EMG activity of the glute max, glute medius, and TFL muscles during two variations of the lateral band walking exercises.

The subjects performed the lateral band walk in a standing straight up posture and a more flexed squat position.

A Simple Tweak to Enhance Glute and Reduce TFL Activity

I’ve personally used both variations in the past but tend to perform the exercise more often in the slightly flexed position, which we consider a more “athletic posture,” as we don’t really walk laterally with our hips and knees straight very often.

Results showed that EMG of both the glute max and glute medius was enhanced by performing lateral band walks in the partial squat position, and that TFL activity was actually reduced.  Glute activity almost doubled.


A Simple Tweak to Enhance Glute and Reduce TFL Activity

The finding of reduced TFL activity is just as important as enhanced glute EMG activity, as the ratio of glute medius to TFL is greatly enhanced by performing the lateral band walk in this athletic position.

Sometimes it’s the simplest studies that make the most impact.

The TFL also acts as a secondary hip flexor and internal rotator of the hip.  In those with glute medius weakness, which is fairly common, the TFL tends to be overactive to produce abduction of the hip.

Considering how our chronic seated posture can cause shortening of the hip flexors and we know many knee issues can arise from too much dynamic hip internal rotation and glute medius weakness, we often try to focus on developing the glute medius ability to become more of the primary muscle involved with abduction, instead of the TFL.

Another interesting finding of the study was that the stance limb, not the moving limb, had higher EMG activity for every muscle in both positions.  This shows the importance of the stance abductors in providing both a closed kinetic chain driving force as well as a lumbopelvic stabilizing force when the moving limb transitions to nonweightbearing.

We focus a lot on abduction based exercises to strengthen the glute medius, but closed kinetic chain exercises in single leg stance may be just as important to train the hip to stabilize the lower extremity.

One thing I would add is that I rarely perform this exercise with the band at the ankles as the authors did.  I much prefer to put the band around the knee and feel it helps develop better hip control.

Based on this study, I’m not sure I see why I would perform a lateral band walk in a tall upright posture.  I’m going to maximize glute activity and reduce TFL activity by doing the exercise in a more flexed athletic position.


How to Perform and Advance Rhythmic Stabilization Drills

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on How to Perform and Advance Rhythmic Stabilization Drills is now available.


How to Perform and Advance Rhythmic Stabilization Drills

How to Perform and Advance Rhythmic Stabilization Drills Mike ReinoldThis month’s Inner Circle webinar is on How to Perform and Advance Rhythmic Stabilization Drills.  Rhythmic stabilization drills have become very popular since I discussed in my DVD Optimal Shoulder Performance several years ago.  These are easy and excellent drills to start working on dynamic stabilization.  However, I must say over the years I feel like people are getting pretty sloppy with these drills, which essentially makes them much less effective.  Just because an exercise is simple, doesn’t mean that we should be sloppy with how we perform.  In this inservice presentation, I discuss how to perform rhythmic stabilization drills and all the ways we advance them from simple to advanced.

In this webinar, we discuss:

  • Why rhythmic stabilization drills are a great way to start enhancing dynamic stability
  • How to perform basic rhythmic stabilizations
  • How to advance rhythmic stabilization drills by changing technique variables
  • How to know when to advance someone or scale back to get the most out of the drills

To access this webinar:



A Simple and Easy Hip Mobility Drill for Low Back Pain

Low back pain continues to be one of the most common health complaints that limit people, especially as we age.  Rehabilitation of low back pain has transition from simply focusing on reducing the local pain to emphasizing a biomechanical approach of how other areas of the body, such as the hips, impact low back pain.

Essentially we have done a great job moving away from simply treating the symptoms and working towards finding the movement impairment leading to the low back pain.  Sure, using something like a TENS device may have a role to neuromodulate pain, but it is now common knowledge that the improvements seen are transient at best and not addressing the real dysfunction.

One area that has received a lot of attention, and rightfully so, is looking at limitations in hip mobility as a cause of low back pain.  Much of the research to date has focused on looking at the loss of hip external rotation and internal rotation mobility.  In fact, I have an older article on the correlation between hip mobility and low back pain.

I can say that my own ability to help people with low back pain has greatly improved as I’ve learned to focus on hip mobility over the years.


hip extension mobility low back painHip Mobility and Low Back Pain

A new study was recently published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy that adds to our understanding of the influence of hip mobility on low back pain.  In the current study, the authors evaluated hip external rotation, internal rotation, and extension mobility in two groups of individuals, those with and without nonspecific low back pain.

While using a Thomas test to assess hip extension, the authors found the follow:

  • Hip extension in those with low back pain = -4.16 degrees
  • Hip extension in those without low back pain = 6.78 degrees

That’s a total loss of 10 degrees of hip extension in those with low back pain.


A Loss of Hip Extension Correlates to Low Back Pain

So now in addition to rotational loss of hip rotational mobility, it has been shown that a loss of hip extension correlates to low back pain.  To me, this has always been something I have focused on and makes perfect sense, especially as we age.

The vast majority of our society sits for the majority of the day and becomes less and less active as they age.  Among many things, this results in tight hip flexors and an anterior pelvic tilt posture.

Putting recreational activities like sports and running aside, this anterior pelvic tilt posture with tight hip flexors causes a loss of hip extension mobility and the low back tends to take the load but hyperextending.  This happens while simply walking and in a standing posture.

Think about the results above, people with low back pain have negative hip extension, meaning they can’t even extend to neutral!

As we all know, the human body is amazing and will compensate.  Hips don’t extend?  No problem, we’ll extend our spine more.

So a pretty easy step to take to reduce back pain is to work on hip extension mobility.

One drill that almost everyone that trains at Champion PT and Performance gets is what I named the “True Hip Flexor Stretch.”  I’ve talked about it at length in past articles, but I am a believer that most of our hip flexor stretches commonly performed in the fitness world are disadvantageous and not actually stretching what we want to stretch.

The True Hip Flexor Stretch is a great place to start to work on hip extension mobility:

As you can see (and feel), this gets a great stretch on your hip flexors without causing any compensatory low back extension.  And by focusing on posterior pelvic tilt, we gear this towards those with a lot of anterior pelvic tilt.


I really believe that the “True Hip Flexor Stretch” is one of the most important stretches you should be performing.  [Click to Tweet]


Next, Focus on Reducing Anterior Pelvic Tilt in People with Low Back Pain

Updated Strategies on Anterior Pelvic TiltI’m not a big believer that static posture is the most important thing we should all be focusing on when outline our treatment and fitness programs, but it’s a start.  Someone in an anterior pelvic tilt static posture isn’t always evil, and can be the result of many things such as poor core control, poor mobility, and even excessive weight.  I tend to care more about how well people move.

But based on the current evidence, it’s a great place to start.

Once you’ve started to gain some hip mobility, there is a ton more work to do.  We also have to work on glute and core control, among other things.  If you’re interested in learning more, I have a hugely popular Inner Circle webinar on my treatment strategies for anterior pelvic tilt that goes into detail on what I recommend:


In summary, we now have a nice study that shows people with low back pain have 10 degrees less hip extension that those without.  This makes sense, and focusing on hip extension should be one of the key components of any low back pain program.



A Better Way to Perform Shoulder Exercises?

It’s pretty obvious that the shoulder is linked to the scapula, which is linked to the trunk.  So why do we so often perform isolated arm movement exercises without incorporating the trunk?  It’s a good question.  The body works as a kinetic chain that requires a precise interaction of joints and muscles throughout the body.


The Effect of Trunk Rotation During Shoulder Exercises

A recent study was published in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery that examined the impact of adding trunk rotational movements to common shoulder exercises.

The authors chose overhead elevation, external rotation by the side, external rotation in the 90/90 position similar to throwing, and 3 positions of scapular retraction while lying prone (45 degrees, 90 degrees, and 145 degrees) that were similar to prone T’s and Y’s.  The essentially had subjects perform the exercise with and without rotating their trunk towards the moving arm.

A Better Way to Perform Shoulder Exercises?

EMG of the the upper trapezius, middle trapezius, lower trapezius, and serratus anterior were recorded, as well as 3D scapular biomechanics.

There were a few really interesting results.

  • Adding trunk rotation to arm elevation, external rotation at 0 degrees, and external rotation at 90 degrees significantly increased scapular external rotation and posterior tilt, and all 3 exercises increased LT activation
  • During overhead elevation, posterior tilt was 23% increased and lower trap EMG improve 67%, which in turn reduced the upper trap/lower trap ratio.
  • Adding rotation to the prone exercises reduced upper trapezius activity, and therefore enhanced the upper trap/lower trap ratio as well.


What Does This All Mean?

I would say these results are interesting.  While the EMG activity was fairly low throughout the study, the biggest implication is that involving the trunk during arm movements does have a significant impact on both muscle activity and scapular mechanics.  Past studies have shown that including hip movement with shoulder exercises also change muscle activity.

This makes sense.  If you think about it, traditional exercises like elevation and external rotation involve moving the shoulder on the trunk.  By adding trunk movement during the exercises you are also involving moving the trunk on the shoulder.

This is how the body works, anyway.  Most people don’t robotically just move their arm during activities, the move their entire body to position the arm in space to accomplish their goal.

It’s also been long speculated that injuries during sports like throwing and baseball pitching may be at least partially responsible for not positioning or stabilizing the scapula optimally.  I think this study supports this theory, showing that trunk movement alters shoulder function.

Isolated exercises like elevation and external rotation are always going to be important, especially when trying to enhance the strength of a weak or injured muscle.  However, adding tweaks like trunk rotation to these exercises as people advance may be advantageous when trying to work on using the body with specific scapular positions or ratio of trapezius muscle activity.


5 Tweaks to Make Shoulder Exercises Even More Effective

I’m a big fan of understanding how little tweaks can make a big difference on your exercise selection.  If you are interested in learning more, this month’s Inner Circle webinar will discuss 5 Tweaks to Make Shoulder Exercises Even More Effective.  The webinar will be Tuesday August 25th at 8:00 PM EST, but a recording will be up soon after.




Learn the Champion Performance Therapy and Training System! [Save 20%]

champion pt and performance educationI am super excited to announce that we have just released an online version of our Champion Performance Therapy and Training Seminar that we filmed earlier this summer!

The seminar was AWESOME, with a great turnout of people from all around the country coming to Boston to learn how we integrate performance training and therapy at Champion.  But, we know that there were 100’s of people that wanted to attend that couldn’t make it that weekend, so we wanted to provide an online version of the program!


Champion Performance Therapy and Training Program

Champion Performance Therapy and Training SeminarThe Champion Performance Therapy and Training Seminar is an online educational product designed to overview the Champion system of integrated rehabilitation, fitness, and sports performance training for physical therapists, personal trainers, strength coaches and other rehabilitation and fitness specialists.  The program includes 9 modules and over 6 hours of live lectures and hands-on sessions from the entire team at Champion:

  • Introduction to the Champion System of Integrated Rehab and Performance – Mike Reinold
  • Optimizing Movement – Mike Reinold
  • Developing Strength and Power – Rob Sutton
  • Enhancing Speed and Agility – Malcolm Goodridge
  • Performance Therapy: Movement-Based Functional Rehabilitation – Lenny Macrina
  • Assessing and Optimizing Movement (Hands-On Session) – Mike Reinold and Lenny Macrina
  • Progressing and Regressing Movement-Based Strength Exercises (Hands-On Session) – Rob Sutton
  • Speed and Agility Drills (Hand-On Session) – Malcolm Goodridge
  • Plus tons of demonstrations and live Q&A Sessions

This is a HUGE resource for physical therapists, personal trainers, and strength coaches looking to enhance their skills and develop a well rounded program of performance therapy and training.

Personal trainers, strength coaches, and other fitness specialists will learn the concepts behind the Champion program design system, including how we select, regress, progress, and periodize exercises based on movement patterns to enhance performance.  You’ll learn how we emphasize developing complete athleticism by enhancing mobility, strength, power, speed, and agility.

Physical therapists and rehabilitation specialists will learn our concepts of movement-based rehabilitation, included strategies to assess movement dysfunctions and prescribe appropriate manual therapy and corrective exercises.  We emphasize a hands-on approach that includes a thorough biomechanical assessment of how the body moves and functions to determine what specific muscle imbalances and movement impairments may be leading to dysfunction or limiting performance.  We then offer an individualized approach that produces amazing results.

But what I like most about our model at Champion is that we integrate our rehab and fitness systems.

Fitness specialists will benefit from learning how we integrate rehabilitation concepts into our programs to develop appropriate self-myofascial release, mobility, and corrective exercise programs.  Likewise, rehabilitation specialists will benefit from learning how we integrate performance training concepts to understand how to integrate appropriate strength and conditioning concepts into advanced rehabilitation programs.


Save 20% This Week Only

The program is normally $99.99 but is on sale for 20% off this week only, starting today and going until Sunday 8/23/15 at midnight EST.  Get 9 modules and over 6 hours of content for only $79.99 this week.

Click below to learn more about the program and save 20%:

Order Champion Seminar




Do We Really Need Corrective Exercises?

This past weekend, I was speaking at the Elite Training Workshop that we hosted at Champion PT and Performance in Boston on the topic of Integrating Corrective Exercises with Performance Enhancement.  As I was going through my slides, I actually tweaked it a bit and added one new slide with a simple statement:


Stop Trying to Correct and Start Trying to Enhance

Do We Really Need Corrective ExercisesAt the beginning of the talk, I discussed what some people would use to define the term “corrective exercise.”  I even asked around the room.  In general most people refer to corrective exercises as an exercise designed to improve poor mobility, strength imbalances, and altered motor control.

But there are some people that still refer to corrective exercises as exercises designto “fix” someone or “reduce pain.”  I would argue, this is not what corrective exercises are supposed to be utilized for within a training program.  Fixing injuries uses rehabilitation exercises, not corrective exercises.  They are different.

This may be why you see people doing a squat on an unstable surface and calling it a “corrective exercise.”  What are you trying to correct with that exercise?

One of the major components of using corrective exercises is a thorough assessment.  Without an assessment you are just taking a stab at something.  Without a through assessment, you are looking at an incomplete picture.  This may be OK to try on some people, but will be ineffective with many people, and could actually be detrimental with people in pain.  I’ve talked about this before in what I call The Corrective Exercise Bell Curve.

corrective exercise bell curve

I would define corrective exercises more like this:

Corrective exercises are designed to enhance how well you move and perform.  [Click Here to Tweet This]


So Do We Really Need to Use Corrective Exercises in the Fitness and Performance World?

I still think we do, but perhaps we should really change our focus.  Corrective exercises shouldn’t be used to “fix” people.  That implies there is a problem.  Don’t think of it as taking someone that is below their baseline capacity and getting them back to baseline, think of it as enhancing someone’s baseline and raising their capacity.

“Corrective exercise” is probably not the best terminology, perhaps that is part of the problem.  Incorporate corrective exercises to help enhance people.   Again, I’ll go back to that original phrase from my new slide:

Stop trying to correct and start trying to enhance.  [Click Here to Tweet This]

Use corrective exercises to enhance someone’s mobility, or improve someone’s movement pattern, or to add a strength emphasis to an area that is weak.  In this last example, if someone is quad dominant, has poor glute strength, and overuses their low back instead of their hips to hips, a “corrective exercise” may be a deadlift variation!  That doesn’t seem like rehab to me, that seems like performance enhancement, doesn’t it?


Learn How I Integrate Corrective Exercises with Performance Enhancement


If you are interested in learning how I integrate corrective exercises into our performance enhancement programs at Champion, I have an Inner Circle webinar on the topic.  In the presentation, I discuss:

  • What corrective exercises really focus on
  • How to  classify corrective exercises into specific components
  • My system for determining which corrective exercises to perform
  • What you can do to maximize the effectiveness of your corrective exercises
  • How and when to integrate corrective exercises into your rehabilitation, fitness, or performance enhancement program

To access the presentation:



How to Assess Shoulder Capsular Mobility

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on Assessing Shoulder Capsular Mobility is now available.


Assessing Shoulder Capsular Mobility

Assessing Shoulder Capsular Mobility - Social MediaThis month’s Inner Circle webinar is on Assessing Shoulder Capsular Mobility.  This is a recording of an actual inservice we performed with the students and interns at Champion this week.  I’m super excited to be able to record and share things like this with my Inner Circle.  It’s like having a front row seat at our inservices!  I think this offers many benefits over the traditional webinar/lecture format, as you can watch the interaction and also see some of the clinical techniques better.

In this webinar, we discuss:

  • The anatomy of the shoulder capsule and glenohumeral ligaments
  • How different arm positions stress different aspects of the capsule
  • How to determine which ligament and aspect of the capsule is tight
  • How to assess range of motion at different positions to assess different portions of the capsule
  • How to perform range of motion and capsular mobility assessment of the shoulder
  • Clinical tips on the assessment technique

To access this webinar:



Periodization for Strength Training and Rehabilitation

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on my Periodization for Strength Training and Rehabilitation is now available.


Periodization for Strength Training and Rehabilitation

Periodization for Strength Training and RehabilitationThis month’s Inner Circle webinar is on periodization for strength training and rehabilitation.  In this webinar I’ll discuss:

  • Why you need to understand periodization concepts to maximize strength
  • How to enhance strength by strategically changing aspects of your program to stimulate adaptations
  • The many different kinds of periodization and what really works
  • How I use linear, non-linear, and undulating periodization concepts
  • How to chose your periodization strategy based on the experience of the person
  • How to apply periodization concepts to rehabilitation

To access this webinar:





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5 Things You Need to Understand to Master Functional Rehab and Performance

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