Having tight hips is not fun.
When your hips are tight, it can cause all kinds of issues with the rest of your body.
If you look at the body, your joints have a pattern with stability and mobility. Your foot is for stability, and the joint above, the ankle, is made for mobility.
Continuing up the chain is the knee for stability, and then you have the hip joint.
The hip joint can perform a type of movement called circumduction. This means the leg combines multiple types of movement to move in a circle.
Your shoulder joints are also able to perform this type of movement.
The point is this, your hip joint is made to move in all sorts of directions. You know the saying, use it or lose it?
When you don’t move your hips in multiple planes of movement, you lose the ability to do so. Since you are not moving your hips the way they are designed, they get tight.
This is especially true if you are sitting for the majority of your day.
Your tight hips will make other parts of your body work harder than it needs to, for example, the low back.
The lack of mobility in the hips will make the low back move more than it needs to, which can cause discomfort.
Go back to the kinetic chain of movement, your low back is for stability, not mobility. So as you can see, the body is connected with patterns.
When one part of the body gets away from its job, the other parts of your body have to compensate.
Sitting all day is one cause of your tight hips, but there are other reasons.
Look at your day-to-day activities.
How often are you moving your legs to the side?
How about any rotation?
Ever move your hips backward or in circles?
Your lack of movement with different movements can also play a role in your tight hips.
WHY IT MATTERS
Besides reducing tightness in the hips and potentially any low back pain, why train to make the hips more mobile?
As I mentioned earlier, the body is connected. The lack of mobility in the hips will make other movements difficult.
Try sitting in a deep squat or go and bend over at the hips.
The movement is limited.
Walking, running, and sprinting are very uncomfortable, especially running. Muscles like the hamstrings exert more effort and have a higher risk of injury.
So why does it matter?
I think it would matter to you to move well without discomfort and have the confidence to move without risk of injury.
I hope that you understand the importance of moving better. Not only will you feel better, but now you will be able to move more often.
When you can move more without discomfort, your goals, whatever they may be, can be easily obtained.
EXERCISES FOR HIP MOBILITY
First, I want to tell you that you need to focus on these exercises. You can’t just go through the motions to get it done.
Your intention for each exercise is to create tension around the joint you are focusing on. When you are at the end range of motion, create as much tension as you can.
Forewarning, you will feel crampy in the muscles, and that’s okay. Be okay with the uncomfortable feeling. Over time you will be able to increase your range of motion, and the cramps will lessen.
With all that said, let’s go over a few exercises you can start right now to work on more mobile hips.
1. INTERNAL & EXTERNAL ROTATION
One way to help loosen your hips is to get your hips rotating. With the hip 90/90 shinbox, you will be rotating hips in external and internal rotation at the same time.
While you are at the end range of motion with the rotation, you’re going to create as much tension as you can around the hips. How you can visualize is to imagine you are crushing a walnut with your butt cheeks.
Crush the walnut and create tension, here is the kicker, you have to control your breathing.
You do not want to hold your breath.
The goal is to have control, the best way to show you have control of your body is to have the ability to breathe.
Look at the video below and start with 5 reps for each side. You can do these every day, multiple times during the day.
2. HIP EXTENSION
The next movement is getting your hips to extend, making the joint angle of your hips larger.
To give you a visual, when you are sitting in a chair, your hips are flexed, and the joint angle is small. When you are standing your hips are extended with a larger joint angle.
Now that you have an idea of what hip extension is, here is what I like to start with. This exercise is a glute bridge with a foam roller between the knees.
If you have tight hip flexors, this exercise is great to get those muscles to relax.
You might be asking how this works.
It’s very similar to the arms. When you flex your bicep, the tricep has to relax. These are called antagonistic muscles. Same for your hip flexors.
When you extend the hips and get the butt muscles contracting, your hip flexors relax so the body can perform the movement.
Perform this exercise after the hip 90/90 shinbox and perform 10-15 reps with a slight pause at the top.
As you perform this exercise, be mindful of your core and low back. You do not want to raise your hips so high that your low back arches. Keep the core braced and a neutral spine, and at the top, crush the walnut.
Check out the video below for reference.
After you finish the glute bridge exercise, I like to pair that with a hip flexor stretch and reach.
Now that you have the hip flexors muscles to relax, it’s time to give it a little stretch.
Take a look at the video below. In the video, I explain how to get into position. Perform 5 long exhales for each side before moving forward.
3. HIP ABDUCTION
What is hip abduction? Simply, it is when the leg moves out to the side away from you.
This next exercise does a couple of things for you, stretch the inside of the legs while strengthening the side hip.
A double whammy of benefits for you.
The adductor rock back will stretch the groin area while working on the side hip when you lift the leg.
Heads up, this will cramp up on the side hip. That means you’re using some muscles you haven’t used in a while, it’s okay, just breathe.
Add these into your warm-up and recovery days for a single set of 5 reps on each side. Take it slow and breathe.
Click on the video below for instructions on how to perform this exercise.
4. SQUAT TO STAND
Lastly, you will open the hips by incorporating a more movement-based approach.
A movement approach will not just help your hips feel better, but will also reinforce good quality movement. The quality movement in return will help your hips move and feel better.
It’s a pretty good feedback loop that benefits you.
This exercise is the squat to stand, a movement that works multiple areas of the body at the same time. In the video below, you can see that this is a bodyweight exercise.
While you are in the bottom position, this is where you have to focus on the intent. The mindset should be creating full body tension, pushing your knees and hips out as hard as you can.
Sitting in the bottom position of the squat, you can sway your hips from side to side, pushing your knee over the ankle and creating tension. With this, you can open your hips and work on ankle mobility.
When you stand back up, brace the core and push with your legs and drive your hips forward while keeping a neutral spine.
What you don’t want to do is let your chest fall forward while getting out of the squat.
Watch the video below to perform this exercise. In your warm-up, you can start with 5 reps, going as slow.
IT’S ALL IN THE HIPS
Do these exercises as part of your warm-up, and on days when you recover.
So essentially, do these every day to get faster results. Stay consistent with it and pay attention to how you move and feel.
Ability to move and control your hips will be the difference between being independent as you age or needing help to sit on the toilet.
I do not know about you, but I would like to sit on the toilet myself and have the strength and mobility to stand up without assistance.
What you do or don’t do now will determine how you move and live when you are older. You can put in the work now to make things easier for you later down the road or live a hard life needing help to move.
The choice is yours. These exercises can be the beginning of you moving and feeling better.