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Many people have weak or inflexible hips due to excessive sitting and too little exercise. No matter if it’s a job, a car or a couch. It’s pretty much the same for everyone these days, and it leads to a wide range of issues from low back aches to knee pain, to being unable to sit down and tie their shoes.
In this article, you’ll find out what are the best hip mobility exercises. Everyone can benefit from hip conditioning, even if you don’t currently have any hip concerns.
Your hips are the centre of movement for your body, so the healthier and less restricted your hips become, the more potential your body has for strength, power, and athleticism.
Poor hip mobility can contribute to issues like lower back pain, knee problems…
When we talked about the difference between flexibility and mobility we saw that, to put it quite simple, mobility is ‘usable ranges of motion’. To maximize our performance potential, we need to have adequate ranges of motion, strength through our ranges and maximum control of our individual joints. Only then we can function well, produce smooth coordinated motion and distribute forces evenly throughout the body.
Stiffness, restrictions, and in some cases, pain, are signs that mobility may be compromised. And while stretching is a popular modality for trying to remedy poor mobility, results are often short-lived. That’s because stretching alone only ‘temporarily’ allows access to a greater range of motion. This is quickly reversed if it’s not accompanied with some kind of specific strengthening work.
So, let’s get into exercises that combine stretching and strengthening to improve your active range of motion (mobility). There are many of these exercises but I picked the best, tried and true, ones. These exercises are simple, but very effective, and can be modified up or down depending on your current abilities and limitations.
90-90 Hip Stretch
The name for the move comes from the fact that your legs are positioned at 90-degree angles. It can be done as a static or dynamic stretch.
How To Do It:
- Find a comfortable seat on the floor or other flat, relatively level surface. You may want to sit on an exercise mat or folded towel to cushion your sitting bones.
- Make sure your back is neutral and your shoulders aren’t hunched. Roll your shoulders back so that your shoulder blades are tucked alongside your spine.
- Place one leg directly in front of you with the outer thigh and outer part of the shin resting on the floor, and bend your knee at a 90-degree angle. Your front thigh should be perpendicular to your body. Extend your other leg out to your side with the inner thigh of your back leg resting on the floor, and also bend the knee at a 90-degree angle.
- Slowly lower your chest to your leg. To stretch and open your hips, hinge your torso forward, keeping your back flat and neutral and your shoulders squared toward the floor. Avoid hunching your shoulders or crunching your neck. *Note: 1. If you can drop all the way to your elbows without pain, do so. However, you should only go as low as you can evenly and without pain. 2. Your shoulders should be roughly parallel with the floor. Avoid leaning to one side or the other.
- Once you’ve folded forward, you can stay in that position and breathe deeply through the stretch, or you can immediately raise up and then fold again.
- If you’re doing the static stretch, hold the position for between 20 and 60 seconds, breathing deeply.
- For a more dynamic stretch, hinge forward and hold the stretch for three seconds, then raise up. Continue this movement for 10 repetitions.
- Switch and do the other side.
- To switch sides, simply switch legs so that your front leg becomes your trailing leg and your trailing leg is in front of you.
- Try not to go any more deeply into the stretch on one side than you did on the other. You want to stretch your hips as evenly and consistently as possible. If one side is more open than the other, this could lead to injury.
This exercise builds strength in your hips, thighs, and glutes. It stabilizes your pelvic muscles and can relieve tightness in your lower back, which helps prevent overuse and injury.
How To Do It:
- Lie on your side with bent knees and a resistance band around your lower thighs.
- Rotate your top leg up as high as you can, then pause for a moment.
- Lower to the starting position.
- Do 1–3 sets of 8–15 repetitions.
This is one of the classic stretches that can help you work on, not just your hip mobility, but also your hamstring and spine flexibility.
How To Do It:
- Start with your front knee bent to a 90-degree angle. The back knee can be as bent or extended as is comfortable for you.
- Rotate the back hip toward the front heel, and then toward the back foot.
- Keep the chest up tall, and only bear as much weight as you can comfortably.
- If you feel comfortable with the knee bent, you can work on straightening out the back leg into the full pigeon pose.
Kneeling Lunge Stretch
You may need some trial and error to find the best front foot positioning, which happens when your shin is upright when you lean forward, rather than being angled down or back. That’s quite normal.
How To Do It:
- Get into a lunge position, with knee and foot about hip-width apart from the elevated leg.
- Keep the chest tall and the hips square.
- Squeeze your glutes and with your back straight lean forward
- To make the stretch harder, you can pull the back knee up off the ground.
Squatting Internal Rotations
This is a dynamic stretch
How To Do It:
- Start in a deep squat position (as deep as you can).
- Rotate one knee inward, down toward the ground.
- get back into squat
- repeat with your other leg.
*This stretch can be done sitting on a small stool if you cannot get into a comfortable squat position.
How Many Reps/Sets To Do
You don’t need to be doing tons of reps and sets of these exercises – you’re much better off doing fewer reps if it means you can practice more often.
Here’s what it’s recommended when you’re starting out:
- 5-10 contractions per side
- a 10-30 second hold
- repeat for each exercise
That should take a maximum of about 10 minutes. Short, frequent sessions are best.
Thank you for reading this article. If you have any question, or want to leave a comment – impression, suggestion, your thoughts, experience… please do so in the comment section below, and I’ll be happy to help you out.