My hips are just so loose and flexible . . . said no one ever . . .
Lately, I find myself hearing a lot of complaints about hips – and no, I’m not talking about the size of the hips. I hear about tight hips and hip pain and other issues caused by tight hips or hip issues. I get lots of requests for hip stretches and hip openers. I definitely include myself in this group!
About a year ago I began having what I thought was IT Band problems and knee problems. During some physical therapy for that I also began losing some mobility and flexibility in my left leg. Then my lower back started giving me fits. I found myself walking around like an eighty year old woman. I just couldn’t get to the root of the problem or get any relief. After a cycle of seeing one person after another I finally found myself on the table of a hip specialist. I was told I had a torn labrum in my left hip that would likely result in surgery. Not exactly what I wanted to hear.
I was not up for another surgery so began researching and looking at different options and opinions. I began working really hard on the stability, strength and stretching of that left hip. It was a long and slow process but the mobility and flexibility have returned. The pain is gone and I’m feeling normal again. If and when I feel things start acting up I go back to basics (and to a great chiropractor) in order to prolong any type of surgery or maybe even the need for surgery, as long as possible.
I say all of this only to set up my own experiences with hip issues. I can empathize with anyone struggling. I think maybe more folks are having more issues due to our lifestyle of sitting more for work, entertainment and, of course, while driving. We stay in that position longer than our past generations, so our hip flexors grow shorter and then our hips and mobility suffer.
Here are my favorite hip stretches. Read the explanations because I add my own tweaks that seem to help me and others I have shared them with.
- Standing Pigeon Pose
This is a great stretch if it is available to you. Stand in front of a chair, bar or counter (or I do this at my kitchen counter all the time!). Square your hips and raise your right leg up onto the counter bending your knee on the top. Relax and breathe into the stretch. Repeat on the other side.
*Want more? Lower your upper body over the leg as you are able and relax into the stretch.
(If this stretch is not available to you, begin standing in front of a chair or counter. Place your right ankle above your left knee making the number 4 and bend the left knee dropping your bottom down so your left quad is parallel to the floor. Allow the right knee to relax and fall toward the floor. You will feel the stretch in the right side. Repeat on the other side)
2. Hip Flexor Runner’s Lunge
Lower yourself into a runner’s lunge with the right knee down on the ground and the bended left knee behind the left toe. Instead of lowering your chest forward, (like the photo) keep it lifted, aligning your shoulders over your hips. Then merely pull the right hip forward. This is not a big movement, but very intentional. Pulling that right hip forward slightly you should feel the stretch in the front of that hip. *Bring both hands off the floor and rest on your hips. Relax into the stretch. **For a little more, raise the right arm up by the right ear. You will feel a deeper stretch in that right side. Make sure you raise the same arm as the knee on the floor** Repeat on the other side.
3. Hip and Quad on the Wall
This stretch was the game changer for me. I performed this stretch daily for a while and I believe it was what has really helped my hip issues. I am not going to tell you it was all roses, as it initially hurt like the devil, but eased up as I gained more mobility and flexibility.
If you have knee issues, use your judgment on this one and begin slowly. It is also helpful to place a cushion under the knee that is on the floor.
Begin by placing your right knee up against a wall and your foot up behind you. (This is where a folded towel or cushion under the knee is helpful) Place your left leg in front as if you were doing a runner’s lunge, keeping the knee behind your left toes. Lift your upper body up stretching back against the wall. You will feel an amazing stretch in the right quad and right hip flexor. It will be like no other stretch on that quad! *To go a little deeper, raise your right arm up by your ear getting a deeper stretch on that right side* Hold the stretch for several seconds, relax and breathe. At this point you will either be praising my name or cursing my name. Either is fine with me as I will know you are doing it correctly AND getting all the benefit of this game changer stretch!
And, of course, repeat on the other side.
Give these a try after your workout when you are nice and warmed up. Let me know if you have any questions and just how amazing you feel afterwards!
Enjoy Your Day!