By Jenna Anderson | Photography by Greg Lindstrom
No matter your preferred outdoor summer activity, adequate mobility and flexibility of the hips will increase power and endurance. Not to mention, if you’re tight in the hip and hip flexors, it can negatively impact your daily life, causing back pain and other problems.
A healthy hip will be able to transfer force through the kinetic chain of muscles. In short, that means whatever sport you’re doing, you’ll be stronger, better and faster. But tight hips, along with decreased mobility and flexibility, can cause increased stress and pain through inappropriate muscle recruiting and loading, in both recreational and daily activities.
The exercises listed below can be completed once, twice or three times before and/or after your workout to help create mobility in the joints and surrounding muscles. Not only will we address mobility, but also stability, the two of which go hand in hand.
Walking Glute Stretch Lunge Give yourself space to do these, preferably 10 to 12 steps one way. Start by pulling one knee toward the chest, feeling the stretch through the glute. Support the lifted leg with your arms at the knee and ankle, and pause at the top to get balanced (don’t let the standing leg bend and keep the glute engaged) before releasing the foot and stepping forward half a step farther than you initially think, and drop into a lunge. Step forward into balance and pull the reverse leg into the stretch. Keep going.
Full Range of Motion Reverse Lunge Once you’ve reached the end of your walkway with the above lunges, now move backward. Without touching your leg, bring the knee up as far as you can and open it up to the side until the muscle stops you. Then, keeping the knee and hip high, rotate around (keep the standing leg as forward as possible, not letting the standing hip rotate open) and turn the knee down, reaching back with your toes and lowering in a controlled manner to a reverse lunge. Repeat on the other side.
Four Point Straddle Stretch Come into a wide straddle stance. One point of note here is that as you do this exercise, you’ll want to keep your weight balanced in your feet, as opposed to rolling to your toes as you push forward. Hinge at the hips, and reach down and back between your legs as far as you can. Then reach center below as far as possible; then as far out in front of you as possible without coming to your toes. Finally, bring your hands to your hips and squeeze your glutes, pushing them forward just slightly to stretch through the front of your hip. Do 10-15.
Half Seated Squat Stand in front of a bar or a post, which will help you balance, and cross one ankle to the opposite knee. Sit down and slightly back, so the knee of the balancing leg stays behind the toe. Go only as low as you can feel the stretch in the outside of the hip. Be careful not to just let yourself drop backward. Keep the knee stacked over the ankle. Also, work to keep the hip in line with the standing leg — if you’re really tight or weak in the joint, the hip will want to pop out to the side.
Kneeling Single Leg Adductor Stretch with Rock Start on hands and knees, place one leg out to the side, line the heel up with the knee of the bent leg, and press firmly through the outside of the stretched foot. Bring the pelvis and spine into neutral positions. Then, using your hands, press back only as far as you can and maintain a nice stretch of the extended leg’s adductor. Rock forward and then back 10-15 times before switching legs.
Rotation Mountain Climbers Come into a plank position. Now you want to draw the tailbone down and make sure your hips are out of flexion before you continue. Before you tackle this exercise, make sure you can hold a full plank for at least a minute. Also, be sure you can push into the floor with enough force to keep your back spread between the shoulder blades — you shouldn’t be able to see them. If you can maintain your plank for a minute here, then begin with the exercises. With one foot on at towel or slide trainer, draw the knee to your chest as far as it will go, and then reach it around and out to the side as far as it will go while maintaining your plank. Then slide it back to center and down. Do 10 on each leg.
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