Updated September 24, 2023
Hip mobility is crucial to our overall physical health. Having healthy and mobile hips gives you numerous advantages. The muscles around our hips perform vast amounts of work and provide the foundations for the agility of our entire body. Our hips also deliver most of the force and power from our lower body.
This force allows us to run and jump, and any lack of strength and mobility in this part of the body can have an immediate impact.
A lack of hip mobility often leads to poor movement patterns, affecting our daily lives. The importance of strong and flexible hips cannot be overstressed. If we lose mobility in our hips, our body must compensate and find a different way to move. This compensation often leads to our knees or lower back overworking.
Unfortunately, essential elements that lead to stiff hips are our daily routines—sitting for extended periods, working, driving, and keeping our hips flexed. This not only stiffens the hips but can also weaken them from prolonged positioning. Potential problems can include aches and pains, and reduced mobility for specific movements such as squatting down.
What can we do about it?
Very slight variations at the pelvis can create immediate advances in performance. By contracting the muscles around the pelvis, we can alter the position of the pelvis and, thus, the available range of motion. To increase mobility in the hips, it is vital to execute movements that challenge your hips’ active range of motion while engaging the core to stabilize the pelvis.
Focusing on these two elements will allow the pelvis to be repositioned to a more neutral position, thus creating improved mobility within the hip socket. It will also function as a retuning of the muscle tone around the hips.
Here are 5 mobility exercises to help you break up that cycle and move more freely:
1.) Goblet Squat
Goblet squats shift the center of gravity forward as we hold the kettlebell in front of the body. This means we can worry less about balance and allows us to focus more on the deep squat position. By executing a slow negative movement and then pausing and holding the squat at the bottom it encourages your nervous system to learn the correct position. The added weight will also allow some to squat a bit deeper. This combination will help to unlock some real hip mobility.
2.) 90/90 Hip Stretch
This fantastic stretch will open up your hips and relieve lower back pain. Once you are in the position, extend your back. If you wish to deepen the stretch, lean forward with your chest and try to get your belly button to hover over your knee. When you lean forward, keep your chest up high; this will allow you to get a deep stretch in your lead leg.
3.) Couch Stretch
The couch stretch is a powerful tool every athlete should use. Keep a neutral spine when performing this stretch, and keep your tailbone tucked in and glutes activated. This will ensure that you get the most out of this fantastic stretch.
4.) Leg Swings
Don’t forget that your hips are constructed of a ball and socket. Therefore, your hips love circular motions; it’s what they’re built for. Leg swings teach your hips how to navigate that three-dimensional space and regain control over that range of motion.
5.) Hip Flexor Stretch
The hips tend to lean forward when they get stiff, mainly when we spend too much time sitting down. A lack of hip extension is often caused by stiff hip flexors. Keep your core muscles tight while performing this stretch and your glutes tight.
For those of you who already have very mobile hips and want to challenge yourselves further, I encourage you to try out Ido Portal’s Squat Routine!