In a Clinically Pressed podcast episode, I was presented the question of an influential purchase for under $100. I said the jump rope and Mark Bell's hip circle. If we take it a step further and go with a purchase under $10, I'd say the hula hoop.
Why the hula hoop?
Put your preconceived notions and research aside. The hula hoop may be one the most simple - yet challenging - tools to improve closed-chain mobility and motor control of the pelvis over the hips. The hips must move quickly in and out of rotation while the abdominal sling system of the body (see Exercise Hacks Ep. 11) works to move the pelvis. There's a balance of muscular stiffness for motor control as well as the rapid contraction and relaxation of musculature essential to athleticism. These same muscular qualities are critical in preventing back and SI joint pain.
The hula hoop first peaked my interest in a rehabilitation video featuring Jacob Chychrun of the Arizona Coyotes. There certainly seems value in its use as a rehab tool. In my opinion, there is value in its use for performance as well. From my experience, if used strategically, the hula hoop can offer similar benefits and muscular activation that the 'Stir the Pot' exercise offers. In the video we demonstrate the Stir the Pot and then hoop it up.
Rather than generating movement at the shoulders, we are generating movement at the hips while maintaining a stiffness through the spine to resist spinal motion. Hula hoop long enough, your obliques will be fried. That or your nervous system will be shot from the level of intramuscular coordination required in your functional core - the spine, shoulders and hips.
Dr. McGill has described the obliques as responsible for directing 'hoop stresses' in the body. It's a critical part of the Stir the Pot exercise. Maybe the hula hoop can be used to train the obliques how to better handle those hoop stresses as well. I'd really like to get Pavel Kolar's thoughts on this as well as other colleagues that may have some experience or insight.
For more reading: