The hips are fundamental to most of our basic movements. They are involved in walking, going up stairs, kneeling and squatting, not to mention their role in almost any athletic activity. Maintaining good hip strength and flexibility is the key to comfortable, lasting mobility.
However, many aspects of our modern lifestyle aren’t conducive to hip health. If you work at a desk job, frequently drive long distances or spend all of your free time on the couch, chances are, you have reduced hip mobility. Even if you don’t feel it directly, you may have noticed lower back pain or had trouble squatting as low as you want. That’s because prolonged sedentary positions stiffen the hips and can even weaken the surrounding muscles.
Dedicating time each day to address this issue will help loosen the hips, which in turn, can help you improve your overall performance and enhance your flexibility, speed and strength. Try the seven stretches below to help increase your hip mobility.
- Lying Hip Rotations – Start by lying on your back with both knees bent. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Place your hand on the crossed knee and slowly rotate your hip in and out of the stretch by pushing on your knee. If you feel tightness in your outer knee in this stretch, try adjusting your crossed leg so it’s resting higher up on the shin. Be sure to stretch both sides.
- Piriformis Stretch – Start by lying on your back with both knees bent. Cross one leg fully over the opposite leg so your knee is over the opposite thigh. Place both hands on top of the crossed knee and gently pull it toward the opposite shoulder. Be sure to stretch both sides.
- Butterfly Stretch – Start in a seated position with the bottoms of your feet together. Try to hold your knees as close to the ground as possible. Holding the toes of both feet, press into the ground and slowly move your hips closer to your heels.
- Frog Stretch – Start by kneeling on your elbows and knees. Spread your knees as far apart as is comfortably possible, keeping your toes pointed out and the balls of your feet on the ground. Slowly rock back and forth in the position.
- Kneeling Lunge – Start in a lunge position with your legs about hip-width apart. Keeping your chest tall and the hips square, slowly lean into the elevated leg. Be sure to stretch both sides.
- 90/90 Stretch – Start in a lunge position with your legs about hip-width apart. Slowly lower your front leg into a 90-degree angle with your outer knee on the ground. Keep your knee in line with your heel. As you move into this position, your other leg will naturally shift. Make sure it’s bent at a 90-degree angle, keeping your heel in line with your knee. Extend your back, focusing on lengthening your spine. Keep your chest up and lean forward slowly, trying to get your belly button over your front knee. Be sure to stretch both sides.
You can also try the following warm up before your next workout:
Frankenstein Kicks (30 ft.) – Hold your arms straight out. Kick your right leg up toward your right hand, making sure it stays straight. Walk forward, alternating legs.
High-knee Skips (30 ft.) – Skip on the balls of your feet. Bring your front leg up into a 90-degree angle with your toes flexed. Land on the ball of your foot and repeat with the opposite leg, alternating as you skip forward.
Leg Swings (3×10) – Stand in front of a stable chair or railing. Using either for balance, lean forward slightly and swing one leg back and forth in front of your body, maintaining good posture. Be sure to stretch both sides.