Improving internal hip rotation is important for a variety of reasons including:
It allows us to go into a deep squat position safely
Key contributor to knee and low back pain
Poor movement for rotation sport athletes like baseball or even golf
For runners, it doesn’t allow the athlete to extend the hip to engage the glute.
Hip IR should be tested in two positions, because different structures can limit your range of motion depending on whether the hip is extended or flexed. The second test is actually a mobilization for improving hip IR if and when progressed properly.
Testing Seated Internal Hip Rotation
Sit at the end of a table, with your knees bent over the side, and hold onto the table itself.
Now internally rotate the hip, without abducting or side bending, which is a sign of compensating with the lower back.
Generally speaking 35 degrees is good in the general fitness population and 40-45 degrees in competitive athletes.
A quick check to see if you may simply have a "lazy" side if one leg has better hip IR than the other. Perform a side plank on the side that's lagging and reassess. It should improve if it's simply an activation problem, otherwise it helps to narrow down the problem to a structural/muscular or alignment (though not very common) problem.
Mobilizations to Improve Hip IR
Kneeling Glute MOB
Set up on all fours with hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips.
Maintain a slight arch in the lower back and place your right foot on the back of your left knee.
With your back set sit back into your right hip and hold for a 1-2 count before moving back. Perform 5-10 reps on both sides.
Lying Knee Pull Ins
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Exaggerate the width between your feet.
Think about trying to internally rotate your femurs which as a result have your knees touch together while keeping your feet on the floor. Hold for a two count and return to the starting position. The stretch should be felt in the hips and not the knees.
Perform 8-12 reps before working out.
Good for those with muscular restrictions.
Prone Windshield Wipers (TEST #2)
Lie on your stomach with your knees together and feet up in the air.
Keeping the knees together, let the feet fall out to the sides.
Hold for a two count and return to the starting position.
Perform 8-12 reps prior to workout.
This is great in particular for those with a capsular restriction.
Passive Internal Rotation Stretch
This goodie comes courtesy of Dean Somerset. This is more of an advanced stretch and would be sure to be able to knock out all the above aforementioned ones before using this one to help maintain proper hip IR.
Sit at the end of a table or elevated step and lift one leg back into internal rotation as shown.
Progressively work your work close to the table, and hold for 30 seconds.
Repeat on the other leg.
I hope that this post will help steer you in the right direction to improve your lifts in the gym and your times on the trail.
If you should have any specific questions please shoot me a message and I'll be happy to try and help out. If any of this information was insightful, helpful or funny please share it with a friend!