By Soji James, CPT, CSCS
When it comes to factors that may be preventing you from looking and feeling your best, tight hips secretly exist around the top of the list. You may not think about your hips often, but problems there can lead to drops in performance and pain throughout the rest of your body. Short or tight muscles around your hips can lead to lower back pain, achy knees, and they decrease the quality of your workouts overall because they prevent you from performing movements through their full range of motion without restriction. Basically, the more mobile you are, the better results you will get.
It sounds like a paradox, but we live in a generation where people are sitting more (real life can do serious damage to your body) and at the same time training harder. Whether you find yourself constantly stuck at a desk or you just finished your sixth HIIT class of the week and it’s only Wednesday, you could probably benefit from showing your hips some love with some more mobility/flexibility work.
Since real friends don’t let each other walk around with with tight hips, I have included 3 of my favorite hip openers below. Quick side point: stretching along is not enough. While stretching is amazing for elongating tight muscles, it won’t help to break up adhesions in your connective tissue. Imagine having a knot in your shoe lace, pulling your laces tighter won’t get rid of that knot, you have to unravel it. The equivalent to this analogy is using a mobility promoting tool such as a foam roller. It works as a 1-2 punch with the stretches below to get your muscles functioning optimally and you crushing life. If you don’t already have a foam roller, I recommend you checking out the Trigger point Grid X foam roller. You can pick it up here.
1) Standing Hip CAR (Controlled Articular Rotation)
I’m absolutely obsessed with these. The standing hip CAR helps to increase circulation around tissues of the hip joint and challenges the end ranges of motion. As oppose to taking a passive approach, this movement makes the muscles work! Stand parallel to a wall or chair and hold on using your right hand for balance. Draw in/brace your core, tighten your glutes and lift your left knee, opening it up to the left side- focus on keeping everything else still. Circle your knee, leading back with your left foot until your left knee is even with your right knee. Perform 5 reps in one direction and then execute the movement in the opposite direction. Switch sides and repeat
2) Pigeon Stretch
The pigeon pose works to target the external rotators of the hip in the lead leg, while also putting the trail leg in an optimal position to stretch out the posas muscle. Start on all fours in a quadruped position, slide the right knee forward toward your right hand. Angle your right knee at two o’clock and then slide your left leg back as far as your hips will allow. Focus on keeping
the hips square to the floor. Focus on completing 5 controlled breathes and then switch to the opposite side.
3) Lizard Stretch
The muscles at the front of the hips, the hip flexors can become extremely tight from extended periods of sitting. The lizard stretch targets that area as well as hitting the outer hip. Starting in Pushup position, step your right foot to the outside of your right hand and drop your left knee down to the ground. Focus on trying to drop your elbows down towards the floor (using a prop here is totally fine). Focus on completing 5 controlled breathes and then switch to the opposite side.