Tight hips and hip pain are among the most common complaints from people of all ages. In a time where many of us sit for most of the day, our hips have paid the price. Sitting for prolonged periods of time leads to shortened hip flexor muscles that pull you out of alignment and into poor posture. Your hip flexors are muscles that flex your hips, which is when you hinge at your hips, such as when sitting. The sitting position has the hips in a flexed position, which puts the hip flexors in their shortened position. Over time, without proper stretching and mobility work, the hip flexors will stay locked in this shortened position. This pulls the pelvis forward, rounding the lower back, and creates a poor posture that can affect the entire body. The hips have a large impact on the whole body. Maintaining a good range of motion and mobility in the hips is essential for whole-body functioning and avoiding injuries.
This routine will focus on increasing the mobility in your hips. Each exercise will get you to move your hips in different directions and ranges of motion, lubricating the hip joints and loosening up the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the hips. It is important that you regularly move all of your joints through their full ranges of motion in order to keep your joints healthy and functioning properly.
Go through one set of each exercise, doing the recommended repetitions if possible. If you find doing the recommended number of repetitions too challenging, you can decrease the repetitions and/or try the modifications given below each exercise. See how you feel after one round of each exercise. If you feel good, do two or three sets of each exercise. If you find one set very difficult, slowly work your way up to the recommended sets and reps. Now let’s get into the exercises.
Hip rotations will work not only on improving hip mobility but just as importantly, hip stability. Balancing on one leg while doing this exercise can be very challenging, and requires your hip stabilizing muscles to work hard. Strengthening these stabilizing muscles will help decrease hip pain, knee pain, ankle pain, and even back pain. It will help you move better and more efficiently.
Begin by grounding down into your right foot with your foot, ankle, knee, and hip in line. With a slight bend in your right knee, slowly lift your left leg off the ground and back behind you. Hinge forward at your hips, working towards getting your upper body and left leg parallel with the floor. Your hands can rest on your hips. From here, begin to lift your left hip up toward the ceiling, opening up your hips to the left. Think about rotating your chest up towards the ceiling. Open up as far as you can, keeping your left leg lifting up, then slowly lower back to the starting position. This is considered one repetition.
Perform 3 sets of 5 repetitions on each side.
Modifications: To make this exercise easier, hold on to a wall or other stable surface to help with balance while going through the movement. To make this exercise more challenging, hold a weight in your hands while performing the exercise. Hold a dumbbell, kettlebell or other weight with both hands close to your chest, increasing the resistance you need to overcome to rotate your hips.
The hip scoot will move your hips through the sagittal plane, as well as strengthen the muscles around your hips.
Begin seated on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Straighten your arms out at shoulder height and hold your palms together in front of you. Shift your left leg and hip forward, like you were taking a step forward with your hip. Repeat this movement on your right side. This is considered one repetition. Continue alternating sides as you ‘scoot’ forward on the floor. Keep your core engaged.
Perform 3 sets of 5 repetitions.
Modifications: To make this exercise easier, place your hands on the floor beside your hips instead of out in front of you. Use your hands to help support your weight throughout the movement. To make this exercise more difficult, instead of just sliding your hips forward, lift them. Lift one side of your seat and your leg off the floor when you move it forward. This will require more hip and core strength.
These hip thrusts are a variation on glute bridges. They will help open up the front of your hips and hip flexors, as well as strengthen your glutes and posterior chain. This is all essential for good posture.
Begin by lying on your back with the soles of your feet together and your knees falling out to the sides. Straighten your arms out at chest-height and bring your palms together. Squeeze your glutes and press your hips upward. Pause at the top position for a moment, then slowly lower your hips down to the starting position. This is considered one repetition.
Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Modifications: To make this exercise easier, perform a regular glute bridge. Start on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes and press your hips upward. To make this exercise more challenging, add resistance. Hold a dumbbell, plate, or other weight on top of your hips with your hands. This will add to the weight you need to lift your hips.
This last exercise moves the hips through a large range of motion and is also a great full-body strengthening and stabilizing exercise.
Begin on all fours, with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Once you are stable in this position, lift your knees slightly off the ground. Keep your shoulders away from your ears and your core engaged. Lift your left leg off the ground, keeping your knee bent, and pressing your heel upward. Slowly lower your leg down to the starting position and repeat the movement on the opposite side.
Perform 3 sets of 5 repetitions on each side.
Modifications: To make this exercise easier, go through the same leg movements from all fours without lifting your knees off the floor. To make this exercise more challenging, add ankle weights to increase the resistance you need to lift with your legs.
Hip mobility is essential for whole-body wellness and mobility. Give these exercises a go and see if you can improve your hip mobility and strength. Your hips – and your entire body will thank you!
Looking for the ultimate program to unlock your tight hip flexors, once and for all? Click here to discover how to find true relief.