Photo credit: Fiona Peters
Your body’s primary objective is to conserve energy for survival and reproduction. It’s therefore constantly adapting so that you can do the things you do most often, as efficiently as possible.
Unfortunately, if you spend a lot of time sitting, you sacrifice a significant amount of joint mobility, especially in the hips.
How to get strong and supple hips
In the previous two articles, I demonstrated yoga poses that stretch and strengthen the musculature of the hips. Here are the links if you'd like to go back and take a look at those:
In the following exercises, we're going to go deeper into the hips and focus on freeing up the joint capsules themselves.
How do flexibility and mobility training differ?
“The joint capsule is a ligamentous sac that surrounds the joint. This sac creates an internal environment for freedom of movement. It also helps create stability, keeping the joint from overstretching.” Dr. Kelly Starrett, Becoming A Supple Leopard
Similar to muscles, the ligaments that support your joints also adapt and get tight when they are kept in the same position for prolonged periods ie. when you sit. You therefore need to consistently move your joints through full range of motion to maintain optimal mobility, loosen up restrictions and ensure that your joints are set in the correct position.
7 Ways to mobilise the hips
Here are 7 exercises to create space in the hip joints. They incorporate all planes of motion: rotation, lateral and extension/flexion.
- Practice each exercise for the prescribed number of reps and then hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds.
- Focus on controlled movements, exploring your end ranges of motion.
- Try to get into all the nooks and crannies.
- Breathe in and out through your nose.
You can do these exercises in the morning, during the day and especially before exercise.
Taking your hips through full range of motion pre-workout has some interesting additional benefits: circulating blood flow to your muscles and joints, demonstrating to your central nervous system where it is safe for your muscles and joints to go and challenging and strengthening your increased range of motion.
1. Seated Hip Circles
- 5-8 reps each way
2. Tabletop Hip Circles
- 5-8 reps each way
3. Half Monkeys
- 5-8 sets each side
4. Spider Planks
- 3-5 sets each side
5. Lying Leg Circles
- 3-5 each way
- 5-8 reps
7. Windscreen Wipers
- 5-8 reps
If you're hypermobile, these exercises may not be suitable for you. Concentrate on strengthening the muscles surrounding the joints and avoid taking them to their end ranges of motion.
If you find that you are incredibly tight, please consider working with a physiotherapist who can perform more rigorous mobilisation techniques with you.
I've just released a new series of 15 x 15-minute videos designed to loosen up tight hips, increase hip mobility and build stability and strength in the hip joints. Here is the link: yogafortighthips
There are 5 different types of sequence in this series:
- The MOBILITY sequences are relatively fast-paced and are designed to loosen up the hips. They are best practiced in the morning or early on in the day.
- The BALANCE and STRENGTH sequences are the most challenging physically and are designed to build strength and stability in and around the hip joints. They are also best practiced in the morning or early on in the day.
- The FLEXIBILITY sequences are slow and steady and are designed to strategically increase flexibility in the hip muscles. They are best practiced in the early evening when your muscles are warm and pliable and you're winding down.
- The RELAXATION sequences are gentle and restorative and are best practiced in the evening to prepare your body for sleep.
Let me know if you have any questions and share your favourite hip opening poses in the COMMENTS below .