It's All in the Hips - 5 Moves for Strong + Supple Hips
As a fitness professional, tight and immobile hips are the most common hurdle clients have to jump over... I have yet to work with a client that doesn’t complain about low back pain and tight hip flexors. The problem with this is that our hips are part of our core - if anything, the most important part- and the anchor for all of our movement. You’d be surprised what referred pain (like in the shoulder, for example) can originate from the hips!
HIPS = THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
There are many ways to increase mobility and flexibility of the hips, but most people neglect STABILIZATION. Without stability, it doesn’t matter how flexible your hips are. Let’s keep this in mind and we move through exercise. Think of your bones as your anchors. They anchor and weigh you down so you can stretch your muscles AWAY from something. As we move, we always want to envision our anchor points and keep them glued down.
Basically, the hips are the fountain of youth and you should keep ‘em healthy.
The way I try to approach hip mobility definitely depends on how tight you are and how long you’ve been neglecting them, so listen to your body and ease into movements slowly if you have any pain.
Our bodies do extraordinarily well with frequency, so the more often you do can do the following exercises, the better! Our hips need activation AND release in order to function properly. Do the moves in this order for a 10-15 minute routine. It can be done on it’s own OR as a way to get your body ready for a workout.
Here are 5 moves to improve your hip mobility and get your hips feelin’ strong, yet supple.
1. The 90/90 Position - This position is GOLD! It puts your hips into INTERNAL and EXTERNAL rotation at the same time. Even if you lack mobility, you can get into the position and progress it over time. You should feel an instant stretch in your glutes and it will allow your hips to open up. If you struggle to even get into this position, let that be your focus for now.
**Remember that stabilization thing we talked about earlier? The most important thing is to keep good posture and a straight spine as you ease into the movement. Anchor your ankle and knee by driving tension through them. Do the lean forward in reps- hold for 3-5 seconds and return to center. Chest up. 5-10 reps**
2. Active Pigeon - I first learned about this from the Mind Pump crew (check em out for a ton of fitness/mobility/everything tips) and I’ve been implementing it with clients with great success. This is another position that might take some time to master. Ease into it. The greatest thing about this exercise is that it gets your adductors turned on and working together with your glutes. Keep your chest up and shoulders down and back. Imagine there’s a string attached to your head and someone is pulling on it so you rise up.
3. Glute Bridge with Band- The glute bridge is a common exercise that most people don’t do correctly because they lose their upper body and strictly focus on their legs. Our bodies work best when everything works together, so you have to be aware of your shoulders. This also provides a lovely neck release! In order to do this, I like the assistance of a band or a towel. Anything that you can keep slight tension on to pull your shoulders down. You’ll want your elbows out to the sides and imagine that your upper back is widening like a cobra. Drive in through your heels and keep tension on that band as you move.
4. Leg Circles- You’ll need a band for this movement! You can do without if you have badass core control and body awareness, but for most, that proves itself challenging and it causes you to focus less on your hips and more on the movement. For priming and warm-up purposes, a band works wonderfully.You’ll hold the band with your hands and RELAX your hip. The first movement is just ticking your leg from side to side. Keep your foot flexed and bring the leg across the midline of the body - do 8-10 reps. Then do circles. Imagine you’re stirring a pot (stirring your hip in it’s socket) and keep that hip relaxed. 8-10 reps in both directions. Finish with flexion and extension of the knee, driving through the heel and slightly squeezing your glute.
5. Leg Lifts- This last exercise is for hip stabilization and strengthening. This is going to set your glute medius on fire! It’s most important to keep a space in between your hip and your ribs - so start by pulling your hip down and you’ll feel a slight lift in between your side and the ground. The weight should be heavy in the hip that’s on the ground - that’s your anchor. Your body leg can go to the corner of the mat while the top leg lengthens out, in line with your hip. Flex your foot and lift your leg (keep the movement small if you need to) and focus on keeping your hip stable. Do 10-12 reps on each side.