Out of all of our body parts, our hips tend to get the brunt of time spent sitting at our desks. This is why hip mobility work is so important—because, ya know, we want to be able to move fluidly and without that annoying tightness. Enter: a Pilates workout for tight hip flexors.
In this week’s episode of Good Moves, East River Pilates instructor and physiotherapist Chloe Gregor brings us a 15-minute full-body Pilates workout that gives special TLC to tight hips. It’s something you can flow through literally anywhere, with zero equipment—all you need is a mat (and maybe some cute leggings).
Though you’re definitely going to feel the burn in your core (including your obliques), this Pilates sesh will strengthen all of your muscles from head to toe. And, yes, a lot of the exercises are going to strengthen the muscles in your hip area as they boost your mobility.
Try this Pilates workout for tight hip flexors
Roll down: Start seated with your legs extended in front of you, hip-width distance apart. Flex your feet. If your hamstrings are really tight, you can have a slight bend in the knees. Reach your arms forward in front of you, lengthen your spine, and keep that length as you scoop your tailbone and start to roll your spine back. Work your abdominals as you slowly roll back, chest open, and pause before the bottom. Then, roll yourself back up, sitting tall at the top. Inhale to lower down, exhale to roll up.
Overhead reach: In the same position, reach your arms forward and scoop your tailbone as you roll back. Find the lowest point that you can hold, then reach one arm up overhead, then bring it forward. Reach the other arm overhead, then bring it forward. The higher the arm goes, the more challenging it will be. Don’t bring your body higher as you lift your arms. Keep your chest open and your heels grounded, exhaling to lift up, inhaling to come forward.
Oblique rotation: Set up in the same starting position, then roll back as you sweep one arm out to the side like you’re reaching for something in the distance, then sweep it forward, coming nice and tall. Inhale to scoop your tailbone down, sweep the opposite arm back, then exhale to come back up as you bring your arm back forward. Lengthen your spine at the top each rotation.
Rotate and pulse: Roll down with your arms in front, keeping your body square. For more of a challenge, you can lift your arms up slightly, or all the way overhead. Find a position that feels right for you, then open up your chest as you pulse with little lifts up and down, pulling your abdominals in each time you lift.
Lift and lower—left: Set up on your knees in the middle of your mat. Tip over to the side so that your right hand is down, right underneath your shoulder, and your left leg is extended so that your body is in one long line. Your hand should be in line with your bottom knee. Take your top hand to the hip, pull your ribcage in, bellybutton into spine. For more support, you can use a block underneath your bottom hand. Lift your left leg up, exhaling, then inhale to lower it down. Keep your foot flexed and stay long in the spine. Feel the lift coming from the outside of your hip.
Leg sweep—left: Keep your left leg raised, then sweep it forward, using your core. Then sweep it back just past the hip for glute max activation. Inhale to sweep forward, exhale to sweep back. Stay tall and keep pressing out of your bottom arm. Try not to have movement through the lower back as you sweep.
Elbow to knee—left: With your left leg extended in line with the body, have your opposite arm reach up overhead. From here, pull the elbow towards the left knee, then really lengthen everything out. Exhale to pull in, inhale to lengthen. If you have any neck tension, you can take the gaze down—otherwise, keep it forward.
Pulse—left: Hold your left leg out and pulse it with your arm extended. Keep the lifts small.
Repeat everything on the right side, starting with the lift and lower.
Rock forward and back: Come onto all fours with your fingers spread wide. Slide both feet back so that you’re in a plank position. Keep a lift in your chest and shoulders without rounding your spine, and shine your heart gently forward. You can do this on your hands or forearms. Zip your bellybutton in towards your spine. Rock forward and back on the balls of your feet. Exhale to rock forward, inhale to draw your heels back. You can also do this in a kneeling plank.
Hip dip: Bring your elbows down into a forearm plank. With your chest lifted, dip the left hip down towards the mat, then bring it up and over to dip the right hip down. Inhale through the center, exhale to find that dip.
Commandos: In a plank position, widen your feet for support. You can do this on your knees if you want. Drop down onto one forearm, then the other, then lift up on the same side back into a high plank. Then alternate your arms (like a plank up-down). The goal is to keep your pelvis really steady and level.
Pilates push-up: Come onto your hands and knees, lifting through the chest. Spiral your elbow creases in and forward so that they’re pointing straight. With your shoulders lifted, lower your forearms down towards the mat, then lift up. For more of a challenge, take a step back with your knees, drawing them together for a kneeling plank, shoulders over wrists. Pull your abs in as you inhale to lower into a tricep push-up, exhale to press away. Only lower as far as you can with control.
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