Triple Extension: What is it and why should I care?
All sports require the ability to perform powerful and fast hip extension. Whether accelerating while skating in hockey or competing in the long jump, powerful extension will improve performance and power development. There are different ways to develop power including weightlifting and plyometric jump training. Knee extension and ankle plantarflexion are also required for maximal power development. The combination of hip extension, knee extension, and ankle plantarflexion are termed “triple extension”.
The main muscle groups involved in triple extension are the gluteus maximus at the hip, the quadriceps at the knee, and the gastroc/soleus complex at the ankle. Look at the pictures below of an athlete performing a vertical jump. In the first picture you see the athlete in a squat position in preparation to jump as high as possible. In the second picture you can see the athlete's hip and knee are fully extended and ankle plantarflexion.
Pic 1-Pre load to jump Pic 2-full triple extension at top of jump
Triple extension development is not only for athletes. Going up steps and getting out of a chair require the same muscle groups and joints to perform to complete these movements. See the pictures below as an example.
Notice the hip and knee extension demonstrated in the standing position in the above picture and compare it to Pic 2 above.
Part of maximizing triple extension is assessing and ensuring full range of motion is capable at the hip, knee, and ankle. Below you will find a few mobility drills to improve and maintain full range of motion at the hip knee and ankle to maximize the triple extension position.
Kneeling Hip flexor stretch:
Keep the abs tight, squeeze the butt muscles and feel a stretch at the front of the hip
Kettle Bell Swing
Hamstring stretch with a band/strap
Ankle sit backs/tibialias anterior stretch:
Gently sit back and feel a stretch on the front of your shins
Alternating stationary lunge
Try adding these mobility and active warm up drills to your warm-up before a workout or training session. As always, if you are having pain while training or working out reach out to us so we can help you get healthy and stay active!
Gerry will follow up next week for his favorite moves to carry-over these basic concepts on triple extension to performance training and how he uses triple extension to maximize an athlete’s power potential.