This article was written based on a research report by MMA / BJJ trainer Eric Wong. To see the full overview of Eric's grappling and hip flexibility course, see the full review here (http://scienceofskill.com/bjj-flexibility-and-injury-prevention-with-eri...).
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Dr. Stu McGill taught courses in how to manage lower back pain problems. One of his main theories was to challenge convention wisdom on how to treat back pain. Stretching and rest was not the answer. Having adequate hip flexibility is one of the techniques that Dr. McGill taught. Having proper hip flexibility will allow you to use the proper movement patterns, preventing lower back pain. This will lower the stress that is put onto your lower back in the first place.
Scouring is a technique used to improve your hip flexibility. Scouring is the moving of the head of the femur (ball) in the hip joint (socket). If your hips are not being used regularly, the inside of your hip joint can get “crusty” so to speak and need to be cleaned out. By scouring the hip joint, this “cleans” the inside of it, leaving it free of restrictions making it easier for you to move around. By doing this you are increasing your ROM (range of motion).
There are two types of scouring; passive and active. Passive scouring would be having someone else moving your hip joint around in different directions and circles. It requires an external force and you use the weight of your body to scour the inside of the joint. You could also set your body up in different positions to accomplish this. You want to make sure that you do not go to fast, as you do not want to exert the hip joint too much in too little amount of time.
Active scouring is using the muscles in your hip joint to scour the inside of the joint. An example of active scouring is the Standing Hip Rotation, which is lifting one foot off the ground, keeping the standing knee slightly bent and slowly internally rotating your hip using your hip muscles as much as you can without putting pain on yourself. You hold this position for two seconds and then externally rotate your hip joint as much as you can and hold for two seconds. Do this for 6 repetitions. This creates the scouring effect. Be aware of how your hips feel during the different motions, how smooth the motion is and how fatigued you get when contracting your muscles at the end range. Some discomfort at the end of the ranges is normal; this is due to the hip joint not being “scoured” properly in the past. Some will also feel fatigued and lose their balance when trying to contract the muscles at the end range. This will improve with practice.
Scouring helps improve strength and treats soft tissue restrictions. It also helps improve control. With practice, this is just one of the many things that can help you with your lower back pain issues. The more you practice and scour your hip joints, the less stress there will be on your lower back. You could apply these techniques to a variety of different exercises to get you back to where you need be.
For more information on hip flexibility see this cool article from BJJ Weekly (http://www.bjjweekly.com/blog/post/the-importance-of-hips-in-brazilian-j...).