by Peter Eastment
Our hips can withstand a fair amount of pressure and repeated load and are one of the biggest joints in the body. Our hips cushion the load from the pressure when we run, and accommodate for almost 360 degrees of range to allow us to work to the ends of our range. But our hips aren’t indestructible. With age and repeated use like running, jumping, and squatting, the cushioning of our cartilage wears down and that can bring along pain and immobility. Muscles and tendons in the hips can become overused, and in turn, our hips can become brittle and can fracture in falls.
Given the hips are so large, there are indeed several muscle groups that are required to mobilise and move it. These muscles control the movements of our hips through different movements. If you are a runner, for example, you will be dominating through a certain muscle group, and others will be underutilised. This can lead to imbalance and misalignment which is where you could be prone to pain and injury.
General movements that we do in the group fitness classes, such as Pilates and Yoga will allow you to work on your management and health of your hips. If you feel you need a more in-depth and personalised experience, you can even work directly with a Personal Trainer who will be able to create a designated and targeted program for your hips at just the right level for your body. By engaging a Personal Trainer at The Studio HQ, you will be able to understand what is happening in your hips and build strength to keep them healthy, longer.
To manage this, you need to focus on mobility through a range of motions, and working on the strength of the muscles that are being under-used. There are 5 simple movements and exercises to balance the hip joint, increase range, and alleviate pain.
Finding a neutral position and engaging core musculature, then finding imprint position by flexing lumbar spine into the mat. Move from imprinting into lifting the hips up into a bridge position, keeping the chin tucked, then articulate through the spine back down.
These are basic exercises but allow for great external rotation. Lying on your side with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your feet in the alignment of the back of your body. Rotate your knee and externally rotate the hip. Only go to the range that you are able to maintain your technique and alignment. For a progression, you can lift your feet off the ground while keeping your knees grounded.
HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
Come forward, kneeling with one leg in front of you. Scoop your pelvic forward and tilt forward from the knee joint. This will lengthen the front of your hips but more specifically your hip flexors (Psoas and iliacus). As a desk worker, these can become very tight as you’re in a seated position all day which shortens them over time. So to do these exercises in the morning and night and throughout the day will help alleviate that tightness.
Our glutes are a powerful and strong muscle, but they can also get very tight at the same time. So it is important to loosen them to ensure you have a good range of motion and elasticity of the muscle. To stretch your hips come into a 4-point kneeling position on your mat. Take one leg across your body on the floor, this can be at whatever angle you wish or are able to manage. From here you move through the stretch by taking your torso closer to the floor and then lifting to the ceiling. This will then promote a more dynamic stretch.
SIDE TO SIDE SQUAT
This exercise allows for strength and release. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart and leg externally rotated. With your hips parallel to the front bend through one knee and take your hips over to one side while keeping the other leg straight. This will change your range of motion as well as your strength from your right to left.
If you go through these exercises morning or night you will find an increase in your range of motion and general health of your hips. To help you get started, watch me in action on the video below and make these exercises a part of your daily routine.
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