Shakira said it best. “I’m on tonight, and my hips don’t lie, and I’m starting to feel it’s right.” Your hips really don’t lie. They are the most central vortex of your entire body, and when they are hurting, chances are the rest of your body will follow suit. Structurally speaking, your hips are smack dab in the middle of everything else. Therefore, if your hips are out of whack, your body will be forced to compensate and end up in pain and out of alignment.
The everyday lifestyle choices that we make in the western world often involve jumping from one extreme to another, as far as our bodies are concerned. For example, you most likely spend most of your day working at a desk, on a computer. Maybe you try to keep yourself in shape by hitting the gym super hard or playing an intense sport or even going for a long run. After that, you are tired, so you retire to the couch with a cold one and your favorite show or movie to unwind before hitting the hay and repeating the same cycle the next day.
With a routine like this, you ask your body to ping pong from sitting to partaking in an extreme activity, and then back to sitting or laying down. Add alcohol into the mix (which causes dehydration of the joint tissue and everything else), and you are not helping the situation.
Let’s face it, in this day in age, we are not partaking in the constant and consistent fluid motion that our hunter-gatherer ancestors endured to stay alive. Here’s the problem with this lack of motion, followed by intensity: you will lose your hip mobility, which can contribute to pain in the knees and the lower back. Luckily, there are some reasonably simple hip mobility exercises that you can do to limber up your most central joint system and potentially prevent injury. If you are wondering how to increase hip mobility, read on to learn more.
HOW TO IMPROVE HIP MOBILITY
First and foremost, when doing these hip mobility exercises (and any other feats of the body) you should not push yourself to the point of pain. The goal is to loosen up and increase your range of motion. The goal is not to push yourself past the point of your body’s capacity and cause injury.
Restorative Fitness: You Don’t Always Need to Max Out Your Capacity
So, if something is beginning to feel unpleasant in any of these exercises, slowly back out of it and regroup before attempting it again. Without any further ado, here are some of our favorite hip mobility stretches.
3 Easy Hip Mobility Stretches
1. PIGEON POSE
Yogi or not, pigeon pose (or any figure four position) is where it is at for opening up your hip flexors. To get into pigeon, you will want to place your right ankle directly behind your left wrist and your right knee directly behind your right wrist.
Be sure to flex your right foot (by pulling your toes back toward your shin) to protect your knee. Your left leg will be extended out behind you. You can either remain seated in an upright position, or you can fold forward over your front leg. Be sure to practice these hip mobility stretches on both sides to maintain balance.
2. BUTTERFLY STRETCH
Butterfly stretch earns its place on our list of favorite hip mobility stretches because it is an excellent opener for hip flexors. Sit on your butt and draw the “palms” of your feet together so that they are touching. Open them as if you were reading a book. Sit up as tall as you possibly can, elongating your spine.
While maintaining the length (and without slouching or rounding the spine), begin to hinge forward at the hips over your feet and folded legs. You can clasp your hands around your feet and use your elbows to push your legs and knees down, closer to the ground. If you feel your spine beginning to round, come out of it, reconnect with your length, and start again.
3. FROG STRETCH
Another one of our favorite hip mobility stretches is the frog position. Warning, this one is not for the faint of heart. It is a deep stretch, so as we mentioned before, be sure to listen to your body and not push yourself past your limit and into pain.
For this stretch, you may want to put a squishy mat or cushion underneath your knees. You will begin on your hands and knees in a table-top position. From there, you will widen your knees as far as you can from each other while lowering down onto your forearms. You will want to turn your toes out, away from each other. Once you are as low as you can go, you can experiment with the positioning of your pelvis. You can try tucking your tail bone down and under your rear end. You can also play with slightly arching your lower back. Even slowly and gently moving back and forth between the two positions may feel nice and will enable you to stretch different parts of your hip joints.
It would be best if you aimed to do these three stretches as often as possible, but at least once every day. If we take advice from Shakira, the key here is really to do them, “whenever, wherever!” Seriously – take care of your hip joints, and they will take care of you.
These hip mobility stretches don’t take very long, and the benefits are undeniable. Having healthy hip joints will help you combat natural aging, a sedentary lifestyle and will aid your athletic performance. As you age, the longevity of your body and all of its mobility and functionality becomes the name of the game. If you live in the Greater Boston Metro area, consider scheduling a session with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPT) to work on your hip mobility training. We offer in-home treatment and can facilitate your schedule.