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MyoQuip HipneeFlex accommodating resistance strength builder for hip and knee flexors

basic mechanism of the HipneeFlex hip and knee flexor strength developer showing QuadTorq mechanism and foot engagement device

The MyoQuip HipneeFlex is a truly unique apparatus for the development of the hip and knee flexors. Figure 1 shows its basic mechanism. The athlete operates from a supine position so that the action of the flexors - the iliopsoas and hamstrings for the hip and knee joints respectively - can be effectively isolated.The feet are engaged between rollers which are cable-connected to the weighted QuadTorq mechanism.

The exercise movement involves the feet being drawn back from a fully extended position to a fully flexed position. Thus both hip and knee flexors are exercised through a range where the included angle at the joints varies from 180 to around 30.

The arc through which the foot engagement device moves is designed to closely parallel the path that the feet would normally traverse if drawn back without resistance. It also creates a natural tendency for the two joint angles to vary synchronously so that they are both under continual load.

Paul Lucchi in the leg extended position of the HipneeFlex hip and knee flexor strength developer

Biomechanical correspondence

In going from full extension to full flexion the limb joints are moving towards a progressively inferior biomechanical orientation and consequently, less capacity to handle load.In view of this the QuadTorq mechanism for the HipneeFlex is configured for decreasing resistance. (This is opposite to MyoQuip's other machines such as the MyoTruk and MyoThrusta. Because they involve limb extension rather than limb flexion, the orientation of their BBC mechanism is for increasing resistance.)

Hamstring development

It could be argued that other exercises and apparatus cater adequately for hamstring development. For example, in their role as hip flexors, they are strongly activated in whole-leg extensor movements such as the barbell squat. But with regard to their other function as knee flexors the most commonly used apparatus, the leg curl machine, doesn't usually involve knee joint closure much below 90 and it is also a simple single-joint exercise.

By contrast, many of the important sporting activities involving the knee flexor, such as sprinting, cycling or rowing, produce acute joint angles and also require complex coordination between the hamstrings and iliopsoas. The HipneeFlex is the only strength apparatus that effectively simulates that coordination.

"... an apparatus that can safely and effectively strengthen a muscle group that is intrinsically involved in many athletic and sporting activities but which is virtually never developed to its full potential."

the iliopsoas group of muscles used in hip flexion

Hip flexor strength and sport

Strong hip flexors provide an advantage in a wide range of sports and athletic activities. In sprinting high knee lift is associated with increased stride length and therefore considerable attention is given to exercising the hip flexors. However, they are usually not exercised against resistance and consequently there is unlikely to be any appreciable strength increase.

Hip flexor strength is directly relevant to a range of activities in football. Kicking a ball is a complex coordinated action involving simultaneous knee extension and hip flexion, so developing a more powerful kick requires exercises applicable to these muscle groups. Strong hip flexors can also be very advantageous in the tackle situation in American football and both rugby union and rugby league where a player is attempting to take further steps forward with an opposing player clinging to his legs.

In addition those players in American football and rugby who have massively developed quadriceps and gluteus muscles are often unable to generate rapid knee lift and hence tend to shuffle around the field. Having stronger flexors would significantly improve their mobility.

It is commonly asserted that marked strength disparity between hip extensors and hip flexors may be a contributing factor in hamstring injuries in footballers. It is interesting to speculate on whether hip extensor/flexor imbalance might also be associated with the relatively high incidence of groin injuries.

"... in any sporting activities requiring hip joint extension, the hip flexors perform a crucial antagonist function. For example, ... in controlling the rate of descent and ascent in ... the squat. "

Iliopsoas strengthening has specific performance implications for cycling which involves continuous though offsetting leg extension and flexion. Enhanced hip flexor capacity has particular relevance to the cycling upstroke where both hip and knee joints are flexing. Concentration on using the hip flexors takes load off the hamstrings, the most overworked muscles in cycling.

Tom Carter in the hip and knee flexed position of the HipneeFlex

Cross country skiing is particularly taxing on the hip flexors, as are other activities involving vertical movement of the body such as cross country running and mountain climbing.

Some of the more athletic forms of dance also necessitate very strong hip flexors.

More generally, in any sporting activities requiring hip joint extension, the hip flexors perform a crucial antagonist function. For example, both hip and knee flexors perform a vital role in controlling the rate of descent and ascent in leg extension exercises such as the squat.

Tight hip flexors are recognised as contributing to lower back pain by causing the pelvis to tip forward. Full range activation of the iliopsoas through use of the HipneeFlex can be expected to have a beneficial effect on flexor flexibility.

Specific hip flexor development

Until recently the hip flexors have been the most neglected muscle group in strength training. The development of the HipneeFlex provides a machine with significant specificity to the natural movement of these muscles, involves their full-range activation and has a high degree of biomechanical correspondence between effective load and load-bearing capacity of those muscles at a particular limb position.

Athletes and their coaches constantly seek minor improvements that could conceivably give them a competitive edge. Here we have an apparatus that can safely and effectively strengthen a muscle group that is intrinsically involved in many athletic and sporting activities but which is virtually never developed to its full potential.

For further information or to obtain a quotation please email Bruce Ross. If you are located outside Australia we can quote in your own currency with alternative shipment options.

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