How many of us spend many hours every day sitting at our desks? Sitting for long periods will predominantly cause two major muscle imbalances in the hip joint: weakness in the glutes and tightness in the hip flexors. As a result, this stiffness in the hip joint can lead to limited range of movement and poor or dysfunctional movement patterns in the hip. When the hip isn't able to function optimally, the lower back will often take over resulting in lower back pain. Sound familiar to anyone?
Fear not! This three part hip mobilizing sequence is great for moving the hip joint through a variety of positions and can be used as a great warm-up for your training sessions.
Targeting the hip
Starting position: Start in a high plank position with your elbows straight and wrists directly under shoulders. If you have wrist pain, use a bench to rest your forearms on.
Step 1: Step your right foot up to your right hand (or as close as you can). Make sure your toes face forward and your knee is directly over your ankle. Using your right elbow, gently press your right knee out, keeping the foot glued down. Hold for one slow breath, step back to plank.
Step 2: Step your right foot towards your left hand, allowing the hip to rotate outwards and your right knee to fall towards the ground. The aim is for your shin to be perpendicular to your body however you may need to bring your foot closer to your body depending on your mobility. Square your hips towards the front. Hold for one slow breath, step back to plank.
Step 3: Step your right heel to your right hand, pointing the toes to the ceiling and keeping both knees as straight as you can. For an increased stretch, reach your left heel backwards. Hold for one slow breath, step back to plank.
Repeat the whole sequence on the left. Complete for a total of 3 times on each leg, allowing yourself to get deeper into the stretch on every round.
Benefits of this exercise
Full body work: This is a great exercise to do as a warm up as it targets both the upper and lower body. You probably noticed the 'resting' position is a high plank which means you are mobilizing the hips while simultaneously strengthening the shoulders, arms and core.
Multiple ranges of motion: This exercise takes the hip through a variety of positions and ranges of movement targeting not just one, but multiple muscles that surround the hip joint. Hip flexion, extension and rotation are all involved and will thus help us in the various movements our hips need to go through in life: walking, sitting, bending, dancing!
Increased joint lubrication: Your hip joint is an example of a synovial joint, which means that within the joint capsule is synovial fluid. Think of this as the oil that lubricates your joint. As you begin to move the leg in the hip joint your body begins to release synovial fluid, allowing for smoother and more fluid movements. It's important to warm up so that there is enough synovial fluid in your joint before attempting any big moves!
The hip is the most powerful joint in the body and can produce an incredible amount of force! However, when the muscles surrounding the hip are tight, their potential for power are limited. Both a short muscle and a long muscle is a weak muscle, but when a muscle rests at its optimal length its potential to generate force is greatest.
With good mobility comes better stability - So get mobilizing!
Hi! I'm a dance science educator, Pilates instructor and Personal Trainer residing in Toronto. Here is what I have to say about all things health and movement related.