Try These 5 Moves to Increase Hip Mobility

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It’s likely you feel an irritating tightness in your hips after a long day of sitting, especially in the work-from-home environment of today’s new normal. And no, the walk from your desk to the kitchen during lunch is not enough movement to loosen up your second most mobile joint.

The hip is known as a ball and socket joint, joining the shoulder as one of only two of its kind in the human body. The thigh bone, or the femur, is rounded on its edge to fit inside the inward curve, or socket, of the pelvis. Several ligaments and over 15 different muscles run through the hip, stabilizing the femur head inside the socket. The hip can swivel along many axes because of the freedom in movement this type of joint provides. This makes the hip responsible for a lot of essential movement, such as walking.

Why Do Our Hips Get Tight?

So, why do our hips become tight? Most of the time, it’s a lack of movement. Excessive sitting or laying reduces blood flow around our hips, causing the muscles to relax and shorten. This is why you probably feel stiff when you wake up in the morning, or after sitting on a long flight. Tightness can also be caused by a number of pathologies, including osteoarthritis or muscular injury.

Why is Mobility Important?

Sufficient joint mobility allows us to perform more efficiently. Whether it’s in training or everyday activities, joint mobility is vital to proper muscle engagement. When we have the ability to stretch our muscles, more fibers can activate, making movements more powerful. Strengthening these muscles in a proper lengthened position also helps prevent injury.

That’s why we’re offering you “The Fix” for your achey hips, as physical therapist Daniel Giordano, DPT, PT, CSCS and Cameron Yuen, DPT, PT, CSCS, demo five stretches you can include in your daily routine to help with hip mobility. Go through this routine once a day to have your hips feeling like new.

5 Stretches for Better Hip Mobility

Spider Lunge

Also known as a spider stretch, this movement is a great warm up to your hip mobility routine by promoting blood flow to the area.

How to Do It:

  • While on your hands and feet, bring your right foot outside your right hand.
  • Lift your other leg, squeeze your glutes, and feel the stretch on both sides of the hips.
  • Do five of these on each side, pause, feel the stretch and switch.

Crescent Lunge

For people who spend the bulk of the day sitting, it’s really key that you’re targeting the anterior aspect of the hip. “We want to make sure that this area is mobile so that there’s less pressure on the anterior capsule of the hip,” says Giordano.

You move into this stretch directly out of your spider lunge.

How to Do It:

  • Come down with one knee down on the ground and the other foot planted in front of you in a lunge pose.
  • Push your hips forward and tighten that back glute with the leg that is down on the ground.
  • Put your hands above your head to stretch the psoas muscle, opening up the anterior portion of the hip.
  • Pause for a few seconds and switch.

World’s Greatest Stretch

Giordano nicknames this the ‘world’s greatest’ for a reason. With all of these stretches, don’t worry about holding each rep for too long. You just want a temporary increase in the range of motion, an increase in blood flow and circulation, and to open up the mobility of your hips.

How to Do It:

  • On your hands and feet, put your right foot outside the right hand. You can do a modified version by keeping your left knee on the ground.
  • Tighten your left glute and then drop your right elbow towards the ground, feeling the stretch on the back of the thigh.
  • Rotate with your right arm up to the ceiling and follow your hand with your eyes to avoid stress on your neck. Be sure to tuck that bottom rib under and squeeze your shoulder blades as you do this.
  • Drop down and rotate up five times on each side.
  • Be sure to maintain that glute tightness throughout.

Inner Thigh Groin Stretch

For this active stretch, you’ll work both the adductor on one side while you target hip flexion on the other, trying to make sure that the joint is moving through the full range of motion without restrictions.

How to Do It:

  • This long adductor stretch is done with one knee on the ground with your hip directly over the knee and your hands on the floor.
  • Extend one leg to the side with your foot flat on the ground and rock your hips backwards, so you feel the stretch on the inside of your thigh and inner groin (don’t rock all the way forward).
  • Do this on each side five times.

Posterior Capsule Stretch

Like the World’s Greatest Stretch, this active pose temporarily increases the range of motion, as well as blood flow and circulation. It also takes the pressure off the posterior capsule (the outside of your hip), as the name of this stretch implies.

How to Do It:

  • On your hands and knees, cross one foot over the other and lean to the side, so you feel the stretch on the outside of your hip.
  • If that proves challenging, move your back foot a bit more.
  • Switch sides.

“Those are my five favorite hip mobility exercises. You can do them as a flow as we did, or you can pick them out individually if those ones help you throughout the day,” Giordano says. “Be consistent, use them as much as you want. The better hip mobility we have, the better, your movement quality will be.”

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