Move those hips for better mobility, no matter what type of exercise you’re doing.
Your Personal PT, Rachel Tavel, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), so she knows how to get your body back on track when it’s out of line. In this weekly series, she gives you tips on how to feel better, get stronger, and train smarter.
If you spend most of your day sitting for work, you probably have tight hips. But sitting isn’t the only culprit. Running, lifting, standing and biking can all contribute to tight hips. Just go to one yoga class and you’ll know pretty quickly if your hips are creaky and need a little attention.
The hip is one of the largest and most mobile joints in the body. It consists of the femur, the largest bone in your body that forms the thigh or upper leg, and the acetabulum or hip socket, where the head of the femur connects to the pelvis. Some joints, such as your knee or fingers are hinge joints that predominantly move in two directions: flexion and extension. The hip, like the shoulder, is a ball and socket joint, which means it can move in just about every direction a joint can move. You may not be Shakira, but every hip moves into flexion, extension, abduction (out to the side), adduction (in towards your midline), external rotation and internal rotation. Your hips can move all over the place—but sometimes they seem like they won’t move anywhere easily.
Chances are, you’re living your life mostly moving your hips through half the range of motion that they’re supposed to have. The hip has a lot of potential, but often we don’t explore the full range of mobility and get stuck in much smaller movement patterns. This can contribute to tightness and weakness in the muscles surrounding the joint.
Celebrate all that hip mobility by actually using it. If you’ve got tight hips, these stretches will help you open up and move like you’ve never moved before.
Your Move: Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on both sides. Remember to breathe while holding stretches and only go until you feel it working, without any sharp pain.
- Figure four (or “piriformis”) stretch: Begin lying on your back with knees bent. Cross right foot overand in front of left knee. Grab behind left thigh and gently draw left knee towards your chest. You should feel a stretch in the right hip.
- Lunge stretch with opposite arm reach: Kneel on one knee. Gently lean forward into the front leg without letting the knee go past the toes. Instead of arching your back, tuck your pelvis so that your pubic bone comes forward and your lower back flattens. Lean into the front hip. For an added stretch, reach the arm of the hip you are stretching over your head and across to the opposite side.
- Pigeon stretch: Sit with one knee bent and the other knee extended behind you. Pull the heel of the bent knee towards you. Make sure both hips stay pointed forward. Gently lean forward over the front knee. Hold.
- Butterfly stretch: Sit on the floor with knees bent and wide, soles of feet touching each other. Hold this stretch or lean forward and allow elbows to press knees towards the floor to increased stretch at the groin, inner thighs.
- Hamstring stretch: Lying on your back, wrap a towel or strap around one foot. With both legs straight, use your arms to gently raise the leg with the strap until it is vertical (or as far as your hamstrings allow). Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds.
Author: Dr. Rachel Tavel, PT, DPT, CSCS
Source: Mens Health: 5 Stretches to Loosen Up Your Tight Hips