April 10, 2019

Improve your hip mobility

Improve your hip mobility

Having good hip mobility is very important for your body. Anytime you squat down to pick something up, you’re utilizing your hip flexion and rotation. Anytime you rollover in bed, you’re utilizing your hip rotation. Anytime you’re sitting on the floor playing with the kids, you’re likely utilizing your hip rotation, adduction, and/or abduction. When you bend forward to pick-up your golf ball while swing the back leg back, you’re utilizing hip extension.

I like to think of the hip as our pretzel creator. I know this is silly, but any of the sitting positions we use that look like a pretzel, that’s thanks to the hips being mobile.

hip mobility exercises

What happens when you don’t have good hip mobility? When the hips are tight, it causes areas above and below the joint to have to compensate (the pelvis, low back, and knees) and can lead to other issues. I used to see this all the time as a physical therapist. Having tight or hypomobile hips is a very common issue but luckily it’s an easy thing to fix! You just have to know which exercises to do and which movements to work.

Let’s start with which movements the hip performs. It is a ball-and-socket joint (similar to the shoulder) so it’s very mobile.

The hips move in 6 directions:

  • Hip flexion (FLX)
  • Hip extension (EXT)
  • Hip internal rotation (IR)
  • Hip external rotation (ER)
  • Hip abduction (ABD)
  • Hip adduction (ADD)
  • The hip’s movements are also correlated with the pelvis’ movements. I like to think of the pelvis as the dancing joint. When you sway your hips side to side or thrust them forward and backward, that’s the pelvis moving. When we are trying to target hip mobility, we don’t want the pelvis to be compensating and doing all the work. Therefore, we want to stabilize the pelvis first so the mobility has to come from the hips. To do so, we must know how to perform a posterior pelvic tilt. Watch the video below. 

    For most hip mobility drills, perform the posterior pelvic tilt the entire time.

    Now that you understand the basics, let’s move into the exercises. Based on my experience as a physical therapist and as a weight lifter, I’ve put together some of the best hip mobility exercises. I tried to make this list comprehensive so it covers all six hip movements. 

    Perform mobility work as your warm-up prior to strength training. It’s as simple as doing a 5-10-minute mobility routine that focuses on what muscles you’re working that day. Then, move into your strengthening workout. If you notice feeling tight still, there’s nothing wrong with doing some mobility work between sets as well. Then post-workout, you can go home!

    If you’re a lifter, you probably notice the most hip restrictions with exercises like a squat, goblet squat, sumo squat, sumo deadlift, and high step-up. If you’re someone who struggles with any of these exercises due to feeling tightness or discomfort, it’s possible you have hip mobility restrictions.

    How do you know if you’re limited in hip mobility? Oh, you’ll know! If you are unable to get into any of the positions for the exercises below, you’re tight. You could also have a physical therapist assess you, but it’s usually pretty apparent.

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    23 Hip Mobility Exercises

    • Supine hip external rotation
    • Supine piriformis stretch
    • Supine twist
    • Bretzel
    • Supine figure four twist
    • Single knee to chest bridge or hip flexion
    • Happy baby
    • Butterfly stretch
    • 90/90 wall internal rotation
    • Z-sit torso rotation
    • Alternating side-to-side z-sit
    • Frog stretch 
    • Frog 1-leg lift
    • Hip IR/ER push back
    • Crossed-leg push back
    • Adductor stretch
    • Alternating plank to pigeon
    • Pigeon stretch
    • Z-sit leg lift
    • Hip flexor stretch
    • Hip flexor stretchwith quad stretch
    • Deep squat lateral shift
    • Deep squat internal rotation

    I hope you can start to implement these ideas into your warm-ups and find they help you with your strength training and also functionally day-to-day! Thanks for reading!

    beautiful to the core

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