Our hips are far more important than we realize; acting as the foundation of our spine and lower back, they dictate not just how we move our legs but our arms as well. It definitely isn’t just athletes that need to look after their hips.
In fact, taking a little time to exercise the pelvic muscles can do a lot to relieve aches and pains all around the body, especially in the lower back and knees.
Poor hip mobility will lead to bad posture, inhibited muscles, and difficulty performing simple movements from bending down to walking.
All of these issues can lead to numerous other problems further down the line and unfortunately many people in the modern world are already suffering from negative side effects of tight hip muslces. This is due to jobs or lifestyles that require a lot of sitting down.
Sitting will cause your hip flexors to shorten and contract which reduces pelvic mobility and means your legs and lower back will need to move more in order to compensate. Thankfully, while this problem is common, it isn’t difficult to solve.
Doing a few simple exercises every day can greatly improve hip mobility and lead to a better quality of life. Not only will you be able to move much more freely, but you may also notice you don’t experience as many aches and cramps in your knees or lower back.
This article will take you through three types of exercise that can be used to build up and tone the muscles around your hips.
Squats And Lunges
One of the simplest and most effective ways to improve hip mobility is by doing squats and lunges. Lunges provide a good workout for the legs and a great way to stretch the pelvic muscles.
The three lunges below should be attempted in order, perfecting one before moving on to the next. When combined each of these exercises will greatly help with loosening up your hips to alleviate joint pain in the knees or ankles.
For this exercise place one foot in front of the other so they are in line with your hips squared and your belly button facing forwards. If you are having problems straightening your hips then try locking your front knee.
Lower yourself until the back knee touches down behind the forward foot. Go as low as you can before raising back up and repeating.
Sets of five on each leg will be more than sufficient for improving your hip mobility. You can make this exercise more complicated by placing both your feet on either side of a line and trying to keep your knees parralel with their respective feet.
Standing with both feet together, slide one leg out so that the toes are in line with each other. It helps to have a floor with straight lines on it for this exercise so you can make sure your positioning is correct.
Lower yourself onto the leg you didn’t slide out, making sure that your shin is parallel to your knee and your hip joint is in line with your ears. The other leg should remain straight during this lunge for maximum stretch.
For the Scorpion squat, you will want to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Swing one of your legs around and behind the other. Bend the knee of your stationary leg until the knee of your swing leg touches the floor.
As you come up return your swing leg to its original position before switching to the other leg and repeating.
You will find this squat much easier if you practice the other two first and build up to it. Practicing all three in small sets as often as you can will massively help with stretching your pelvic muscles and improving hip mobility.
The hip flexors are located on either side of your body at the top of the pelvis and are used frequently in everyday movement. Hip flexions are the movement of bringing your knee up to your chest while lying down or standing up.
This is a good exercise to perform so you can strengthen your hip flexors and reduce strain across your lower back. If you are struggling with this movement, it is probably a sign that your hip flexors are weak and you can address this problem by doing dead bugs.
Start by lying flat on your back with your legs and arms raised off the floor. You arms should be straight above your head with your hands pointing directly at the ceiling, while your knees and hips should be bent at right angles in a similar position to sitting on a chair.
Slowly straighten and lower one leg while you stretch the opposite arm backwards and over your head. You want to keep your foot hovering a few inches off the floor before returning both arm and leg to their original positions and repeating on the other side.
External Hip Rotation
The obturators are a group of muscles directly below the glutes that allow your hips to externally rotate. If these muscles are underdeveloped then it can cause your pelvis to tilt which will lead to poor posture and strain on your lower back.
You can build these muscles up by doing a simple exercise called the pigeon.
This is less of an exercise and more of a yoga pose. To do it you will need to start on all fours with your elbows and knees resting on the ground. Move one leg so the foot is in front of you laying on its side with the knee bent at a right angle.
Push your other leg back as far as you can. Hold this position for up to two minutes before repeating on the other leg.
Good hip mobility can make a massive difference in your day-to-day life, even if you aren’t an athlete. Not only will it allow you to move more freely, but it can also help with eliminating pain in the knees, lower back, and thighs.
Practicing the above exercises on a regular basis will build up your pelvic muscles so they are able to freely move and even doing them twice a week can make a significant difference to your movement and posture.