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Working on your hip mobility is essential for your wellbeing, especially when you spend prolonged periods of time sitting down, working from the computer for work. As in many cases of bodily pain, lots of lower back pain problems occur due to a lack of mobility in the hips and ultimately causing instability in the lower lumbar. Research has also shown that hip exercises decrease lower back pain and improve posture, two common consequences of an office job. Also, in sports for professional athletes or just generally active people, improving hip mobility improves power, strength, explosiveness and running technique so there are benefits for everyone, no matter your lifestyle.
Here are some quick exercises to implement into your schedule to help your body feel less stiff, more mobile and reduce some pain points you may have:
Exercise 1: Seated 90/90
Make sure both legs are at 90 degrees; one should be in front of you and the other should be to the side of you. Hold this position, keep your back straight and play around with the exercise to feel the stretch in the hips - lean forward and lean backwards, and try different angles to activate the hips.
After approximately 1 minute you can then switch legs and repeat for another one minute. To do the switching legs motion, keep your bum on the ground and rotate one leg outwards and the other inwards - do not use your hands!
You should hold the stretch 2-3 times on both sides and then to finish, do a few more dynamic leg-switch repetitions repeatedly to continue to open the hips and improve their mobility. Over time you will get better at this, and the movement will become more natural, and your balance will improve.
Exercise 2: Couch Stretch
To get into this position, place a cushion on the ground in front of the sofa (or chair) and put one foot behind you on the sofa and the knee of the same leg on the pillow. The other leg should be in front of you in a lunge-like position.
Note: You may have to adjust the height that you place your foot on the sofa or the pillows for the height of your knee depending on your height and to ensure you feel the right stretch.
When you are in this position and you squeeze your glute, there will already be some tension in the front of the quad and into the hip flexor. To start with, holding this position may be enough for you, and that's completely normal. However, once you feel comfortable you can extend the stretch to further open the front chain. To extend the stretch, you can extend the same arm where the knee is down (right knee on pillow = right arm extended) straight up above your head, and with the opposite arm you can push against your knee as well to increase tension and maintain good balance. Finally, you can also lean further into the lunge (arms down), adding a little bit of weight onto that front knee, but ensuring you keep those glutes activated, so you don’t put too much pressure on your back.
Hold where you feel comfortable for 30-60 seconds, switch legs and repeat! You can do 2-3 rounds on each leg.
Exercise 3: V-stretch
For this mobility stretch, you should be in a seated position with your legs wide in a ‘V-Shape’. The goal here is to keep your legs straight, your back straight, your feet/toes flexed/activated and lean forward as far as you can. You should feel the stretch through the front of your hips and in your adductors. You can also play around with this stretch a little bit to feel out the hips, by leaning to both sides towards your ankles and creating more of a hamstring stretch, but the priority and main stretch should be leaning forwards.
Hold for about 30 seconds, taking deep breaths in and out, relax and return to an upright position and then repeat 3-5 times.
Have some fun with your workout partner: you can sit opposite each other on the floor, both in the V-stretch position with your feet touching. And one of you can pull the other to deepen their stretch and then reverse roles, and repeat. Important note: Pay constant attention to your breathing and only stretch as far as you can hold your breath!
Exercise 4: Deep Hip Squat (also known as the Yogi Squat)
Squat down as far as you personally can; crouched down with your bum down between your ankles, your hands together in a prayer position at your chest and push your inner thighs outwards with your elbows. You can also move around a bit in the stretch, pushing your inner thighs, and leaning more into the right glute and then more into the left glute from side to side, to increase the range of motion.
Take deep breaths whilst in the squat position and hold for approximately 30 seconds, stand, shake it out and repeat 3-5 times.
More than likely, when you first start doing mobility, your hips will be more immobile, and you will have difficulty getting into a very deep squat position. To simplify this exercise, you can hold onto something stable (a table leg or pillar for example) to give yourself more balance, and you should only go as deep as you feel comfortable - IT WILL get better over time.
However, wherever your range of motion is, the priorities are to sit back with your hips and keep your feet flat on the floor and then go as far as you personally can.
When you are doing all these exercises, remember to take deep breaths, to keep your muscles relaxed, inhale and as you exhale you will be able to extend into the hip stretch. Don’t worry or be discouraged if you can’t go very deep into the stretches to start with, your body will naturally go further gradually over time, the more you repeat the exercise.
Give these exercises a try, repeat them 2-3 times per week and I promise you will see and feel the difference in your body after just a couple run throughs. Hopefully this improvement will motivate you to keep going and getting better - it's amazing what your body can achieve no matter your age or fitness level.
I can’t wait to hear about your health and wellness journeys and get your feedback! You can do it! :-)