Do you ever feel like you’re brushing the proverbial cobwebs off of your hips after sitting still for hours on end? You’re not alone. When we spend lots of time in a seated position without moving around much, our hip flexors get shortened, which can lead to tightness and immobility.
The solution? Well, you should ideally be getting up to stretch and move every 30 minutes or so. But if you want to start livening up those hips in a more targeted way, you can work on your hip mobility, or your hip joint’s ability to move through its full range of motion.
"Hip mobility is critical for healthy movement and injury prevention," Corinne Croce, DPT, physical therapist, previously told Well+Good. When you’re immobile in one area, your body may try to compensate in another place, which can cause pain and injury.
Tight hip flexors, for instance, could cause lower back pain, since they originate in the lower back. Hip mobility is also especially important for runners since tight hips could impede your stride from reaching its full extension.
“If you’re looking to loosen up your hips, but don’t know how to get started, this is the workout for you,” Atkins says.
Key to some of her moves are two patterns of motion: rocking and rotating. For example, in the adductor stretch, which involves kneeling on one leg while the other leg goes straight out to the side, you’ll rock back and forth to help mobilize in the side-to-side plane of motion. But you’ll also rotate the foot of your extended leg, which will mobilize your hip in a circular motion. Other movements Atkins will walk you through, like lying-down leg lifts and squats with calf raises, combine this rock ‘n rotate pattern to help get you loose in 360 degrees.
This kind of movement might be challenging at first if you have especially tight hips. Atkins’ advice? Find the edge of your range of motion, but don’t go past it. To do that, slow down so you can listen to your body's cues.
“Slow it down, see as far as you can go, and then slowly release,” Atkins says. Aaaahhhhh.
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