The couch test can reveal your hip mobility

AAs we get older, we often start waking up with sore backs, stiff hips, and creaky knees. We usually attribute this to the passage of time and not being as sharp as we once were. But in reality, a loss of hip mobility could be to blame.

According to mobility experts Juliet and Kelly Starrett, DPT, there’s a simple exercise they like to call “The Couch Test” that can tell you if your hip mobility needs improvement.

The husband and wife duo run a mobility coaching company, The Ready State, to help “everyday athletes enjoy better movement, agility and strength, with less pain and more protection from injury” , according to the website. And they recently co-wrote Built to Move: Ten Essential Habits to Help You Move Freely and Live Life to the Fullestwhich is intended to serve as a guide for those looking to learn the importance of mobility, with step-by-step instructions on how to implement certain strategies and stretches.

Of all the muscle groups covered by the Starretts, if they had to pick just one area of ​​the body to focus on, it would be the hips. “We’re obsessed with hip extension, which is being able to get into a slit-like shape,” says Kelly. “We feel like there’s a hip extension shortage in the universe right now.” Yet, he adds, they believe movement is the antidote to our modern lifestyles where we often sit. “If we had said, ‘Kelly, what is the one thing that you think would transform society?’ I think it’s the couch test.

What is the couch test?

This seemingly simple self-assessment reveals the state of your hip mobility, especially in terms of extension. “And when I say hip extension, I mean taking the hip behind the body, so the knee moves behind the hip joint into a lunge-like position,” Kelly explains. “The problem is that most people don’t spend time in those shapes where we’re close to our end-of-range position.”

The reason? The older we get, often the more sedentary most of us become.

“It’s very possible to go a long time as a modern person without ever really touching hip extension, and that’s one of the reasons why when adults first try sprinting, they can being shocked by what’s happening to their body at high speed in those positions that they don’t touch much,” Kelly adds.

That’s why he created the Couch Test, an isometric grip that, while seemingly simple, can actually be much more difficult to execute.

How to Perform the Couch Test

Step 1: Stand in front of the couch with your back to the seat. “Raise your right leg behind you, bend the knee, and tuck it into the sofa seat where the back and cushions meet,” Kelly explains. “Rest your shin on the back of the couch with your toes pointed.”

Step 2: Lower into a lunge. While maintaining a straight torso and keeping your left foot flat on the floor, Kelly says to bend your left knee, as if lowering into a lunge.

Step 3: Squeeze your buttocks. While holding the bottom of the lunge, with your right knee firmly pressed on the couch seat with your shin against the back of it, squeeze your buttocks together and hold for five slow, steady breaths, Kelly instructs. “Next, relax your butt as you exhale for a slow count of five,” he adds, noting to repeat the process five times before switching sides.

If this sequence is easy for you, Kelly advises moving to the intermediate couch test position: rather than placing your left foot on the floor in front of the couch, step it up onto the seat of the couch, bending that left knee at a 45 degree angle.

If you still want more, it’s time to move on to the floor version of the couch test, which the Starretts consider to be the most effective and advanced position for determining hip mobility. Watch it in action here:

What the couch test reveals

Although the couch test — and even the floor variation — may not seem that difficult, when performing it, you might be surprised at the limits of your body.

For one thing, the couch test reveals our current hip mobility. On the other hand, it highlights the gluteal function (or lack thereof). These two things play a vital role in our daily movement. They can affect the way we sit, stand and bend, and can be responsible for the level of stiffness and pain we feel when making these movements, and which generally exist.

While you absolutely can do stretches and exercises to loosen and strengthen these areas for better mobility, Kelly says that even holding the couch test position as best you can, your body will adapt over time.

“At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is spend time in this isometric shape — have your butt tight, be active, and breathe in this position,” he explains. “It will start to load those tissues appropriately and teach your brain that this is a position of value.”

So the next time you feel like your lower back is tight or you can’t sink into a squat like you used to before, you’ll know what to do. “One of the things we love about this test and this practice is that they really are one: to get better on the test and to feel better about your hips, you actually have to practice. the test,” Kelly says. .

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