Achy, tight hips? We've all been there. Byimproving the mobility of your hips, you'll greatly improve your quality of life. Mobility of all joints, especially the hips, is crucial for your body’s health and ability to function pain-free.The best part is, it's not difficult, you just have to do it! So, with that in mind,we are going toteach you what you need to know about mobility, specifically for the hips, and the best ways to incorporate hip mobility exercises into your routine.
WHAT IS MOBILITY?
Mobility is the ability to move in your environment freely, without restrictions or pain. Specifically, joint mobility is defined as the degree to which an articulation (where two bones meet) can move before being restricted by surrounding tissues like tendons, ligaments and muscles. It is also commonly described as the range of uninhibited movement around a joint.
Mobility of a joint is important to allow proper movement patterns, especially when loaded with resistance. Joints need to be mobile enough to withstand muscular demands so they can do their job properly. With joint stiffness comes a decreased ability of the muscle to move the joint through its full range of motion. When the joints move well, efficient muscles are built.
It is easy to confuse mobility and stretching, both terms are used interchangeably on a regular basis. A great distinction between the two is: stretching is the ability to passively achieve extended ranges of motion while mobility is the ability to actively achieve extended ranges of motion. Stretching alone does not improve hip mobility. Mobility exercises that incorporate both stretching and strengthening can help improve active range of motion.
WHY IS HIP MOBILITY SO IMPORTANT?
Mobility is simply a usable range of motion. Adequate ranges of motion, strength through ranges and control within individual joints helps maximize performance. Pain, stiffness and any sort of restrictions can limit mobility and lead to compromised movement patterns. Having proper hip mobility is essential for a functional lifestyle along with increasing athletic ability by moving through full ranges of motion. Compromised hip mobility can affect overall movement patterns.
Individuals who experience limited range of motion and a lack of strength through the hips may start to load surrounding muscles like the lower back. This can lead to repetitive loading and injuries if the root cause, compromised hip mobility, is not addressed.
WHAT CAUSES POOR HIP MOBILITY?
A sedentary lifestyle is truly a culprit for poor mobility in all joints and especially in the hip joints. Prolonged sitting leads to shortening of the hip-flexors and weakening of the glute muscles. In addition, weakness in the hip stabilizers (glutes, hip external rotators, adductors, hip flexors) can cause the sensation of tightness within the hips.
It is crucial to not only fixate on stretching the surrounding muscles but to incorporate strength within the joint to improve its range of motion. Another factor that plays into poor hip mobility is a potential exaggerated position of the pelvis. In an excessive pelvic tilt, the surrounding musculature that is attached to the pelvis, femur and spine are placed in either lengthened or shortened positions. These positions can limit this muscle group from stretching and/or contracting optimally.
HIP MOBILITY TEST
These two mobility tests are a great starting point to assess whether or not you have adequate range of motion through the hips. These two tests are not the only way you can assess your hip range of motion, follow several methods to assess your hip functionality.
Hip Flexion Test:
Start by laying on your back with your legs straight and together. Keep your arms at your side and your spine flat to the ground. Lift one leg up towards you, as far as your hips allow you to move.
- Pass Test = Raised Heel Past Bottom Knee
- Ideal Range = Raised Leg 90˚ Angle With Hips
Hip Internal & External Rotation Test:
Sit tall in a 90/90 position. Maintain a neutral spine while shifting your weight onto your heels and switching sides in your 90/90 position.
- Pass Test = Full 90/90 Position with Arms Up At Shoulder Level
Click here for a follow-along of the above hip mobility tests.
Note: Regardless of passing or failing the hip mobility “tests”, maintaining and/or improving hip mobility with the following hip mobility exercises can benefit your movement patterns.
Here are some more mobility tests for your other major joint complexes.
THE 9 BEST HIP MOBILITY EXERCISES
Here are the different hip exercises and the orderthat you'll use them in the routine further below...
1. Hip CARs (Controlled Articular Rotation):
Moves the hip joint through its full range of motion.
- Stand tall and support your body with one arm on a stable structure (chair, rig, wall, etc). Extend your other arm out to the side and create a fist for tension.
- Stabilize your inside leg (leg closest to your stable structure) and drive through the ground. Radiate tension through your entire body and try to maintain your posture as you start to move your opposite leg.
- Lift your outside leg towards your chest by bending through the knee and lifting as high as you can without compensating your hips or lower back.
- Maintain your knee at the same height and open your knee out to the side without shifting your hips.
- Rotate the bottom of your foot towards the back wall as far as you can.
- Finish the rotation by lowering your knee directly under your hip.
- Reverse this rotation and repeat 2-3 repetitions on each leg.
2. Standing Hip Flexion (Passive/Active):
Targets the strength of the hip flexor muscle:
- Stand tall, bend through one knee and lift it up towards your chest. Use both your arms to stabilize and pull the knee close to the body. Passively hold this stretch for 30-60 seconds.
- Actively strengthen the hip flexor by assisting your leg in the top position of hip flexion.
- Create tension in your body and let go of your leg. Try to hold the leg up solely with the strength of your hip flexor. Repeat 2-3 repetitions of 10 second holds for your active strengthening of the hip flexors.
3. Hip Flexor Stretch:
Stretches the hip flexor and quadriceps muscle.
- Start in a tall, half kneeling position.
- Slightly tuck your hips, squeeze the glute of the bottom leg and activate through your lower core.
- Slightly lean forwards without arching your lower back to feel a deeper hip flexor stretch along with the stretch of the quadriceps.
- Hold each side for 30-60 seconds.
4. 90/90 Holds (Forward and Backward):
Targets both internal and external rotators of the hips.
- Sit tall with one leg in front of you bent at 90 degrees and your other leg at the side of your body bent at 90 degrees.
- Square your hips towards the front leg. Lean towards the front leg while maintaining a neutral spine. Actively push both legs through the ground. Hold this stretch for 30-60 seconds.
- Sit tall and rotate your torso towards your back leg. Push both of your legs through the ground. Hold this stretch for 30-60 seconds.
5. 90/90 Front Leg Lift:
Strengthens external hip rotators.
- Sit tall in your 90/90 stance. Square your hips towards your front leg and slightly lean forwards.
- Place both hands on your front knee and push down on your leg. While pushing downwards, lift your front knee off of the ground and fight the resistance. Repeat for 5-10 repetitions and hold at the top for 3-5 seconds.
6. 90/90 Back Leg Lift:
Strengthens internal hip rotators.
- Sit tall in your 90/90 stance. Square your hips towards your front leg and slightly lean forwards.
- While keeping tension throughout your body, lift your back foot off of the ground. Repeat for 5-10 repetitions and hold at the top for 3-5 seconds.
7. 90/90 Back Leg Rotating Stretch:
Stretches the internal hip rotators.
- Sit tall in your 90/90 stance.
- Rotate your torso towards your back leg and slightly lean back with your hands behind you for assistance.
- Keep your back foot's toes in contact with the ground as you pick up the knee and heel off of the ground. Continue to lift until your foot is flat. Return to the 90/90 position.
- Repeat fluid rotations for 5-10 repetitions.
8. Bear Sit (Passive and Active):
Stretches the adductor muscles and strengthens the hip flexor muscles.
- Sit tall with your knees bent and legs spread apart.
- Flex your feet and drive your heels through the ground.
- For a passive stretch, hold the shins and pull your legs close to your body while keeping a tall posture. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
- Activate the strength of your hip flexors by assisting your legs in your bear sit then letting go and holding this stance. Remain in a tall posture and radiate tension through the entire body. Repeat 2-3 rounds of a 10 second hold.
9. Cossack Hovers:
Stretches and strengthens the entire hip complex through a dynamic movement that translates directly to lunge, squat and hinging patterns.
- Stand tall and separate your legs in a wider than sumo stance.
- Bend through one knee, drop through the hips and sit in a deep cossack position.
- Keep your bent knee in line with your foot (best at 45 degrees), and position your straight leg with your toes facing upwards.
- Hold the bottom position of the cossack for 3-5 seconds.
- Place your hands on the ground for support as you start to transition into the hover.
- Keep your hips low and start to bend through the opposite leg and transfer the cossack to the other side.
- Repeat 6-12 alternating, dynamic repetitions.
HIP MOBILITY ROUTINE
- Wake up your hips with standing hip CARs. Stand tall and create tension through your entire body. Complete two slow and controlled repetitions on each leg.
- Next, move into a passive standing hip flexion stretch on the right leg. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds. Immediately complete two active hip flexion stretches on the right side, holding each active stretch for 5 seconds. Repeat this sequence on the left side.
- Come down to the ground to a half-kneeling hip flexor stretch. Slightly tuck your pelvis and lean forwards to feel a deep hip flexor and quadriceps stretch. Complete the stretch for 20 seconds on each side.
- Take a seat in your 90/90 position and with your right leg in front. Square your hips and slightly lean forwards towards the right leg and hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Rotate your torso towards the left leg and repeat a 20 second hold.
- Reset and slightly fold over the right leg. Push your hands into your right knee and resist the tension as you lift your knee off of the ground. Repeat the leg lifts for 5 repetitions. (For an additional challenge, hold the top position for 3 seconds.)
- Reset your posture: square your hips towards your right leg and lean forward. Lift your left foot off of the ground for a series of 5 repetitions. (For an additional challenge, hold the top position for 3 seconds.)
- Rotate your torso towards your left leg and place both hands on the ground behind you for support. Lift your left knee off of the ground and plant your left foot to the ground. Repeat for a fluid 5 repetitions.
- Repeat this sequence on your left side 90/90 position: holds, front leg left offs, back leg lift offs, back leg rotations.
- Sit tall with your knees bent and heels positioned into the ground. Place your hands on your shins and pull your legs towards your torso for a passive bear sit. Hold for 20 seconds.
- Move into an active bear by pulling your legs close to your torso and holding your legs without the assistance of your upper body. Repeat 2 sets of a 5 second hold.
- Come up to a wide standing stance, wider than a sumo stance. Drop your hips to one side in a deep cossack squat. Push your hands through the ground and hover the hips low to the ground to switch sides. Repeat 6 alternating, fluid repetitions. For a deep stretch, hold the bottom of each cossack for 3-5 seconds.
Viola, say hello to buttery hips!
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU DO HIP MOBILITY EXERCISES?
Incorporating mobility work into your weekly routine (3-5x per week) is essential for the health of your joints. Hip mobility exercises can either be incorporated in your full-body mobility routines or done separately if you prefer to focus on a few joints at a time. If you feel that your hips need extra love, especially if you are sitting for the majority of your day, incorporate a few hip mobility exercises on a daily basis. It is also recommended to incorporate hip mobility drills prior to big lifts like squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc. This is an accessible way to efficiently prime the hip complex.
Improve your quality of life by improving the mobility of your hips. Utilize mobility drills to not only stretch the hips but to strengthen them too. Find the culprit of why your hips may be tight, assess your mobility, start to incorporate mobility drills and implement a consistent mobility routine. Make sure to throw a few strengthening exercises for hips into your routine as well, so your body will be both stronger and more mobile. Start feeling and moving better with strong, buttery hips!
- Ankle Mobility Exercises
- Thoracic Mobility Exercises
- Shoulder Mobility Exercises
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- Lying Hip Rotations. This easy warmup exercise will get you into the rhythm of your hip exercise routine. ...
- Piriformis Stretch. ...
- Butterfly Stretch. ...
- Frog Stretch. ...
- Kneeling Lunge. ...
- Squatting Internal Rotations. ...
- The Cossack Squat. ...
- 90/90 Stretch.
Complete 2–3 reps on each side. Completing this sequence just 2 times per week will help your hip mobility in just 1–2 months. Place both legs at a 90-degree angle, one in front of your body and one behind. Hold the position for up to 1 minute.What causes lack of hip mobility? ›
Hip bursitis is a painful inflammation of the bursae around your hip and it can cause hip mobility issues. It's most commonly caused by repetitive use and over-stressing the areas around your hip joints — but it can also be caused by direct trauma or infection.How long does it take to improve hip flexibility? ›
You should begin to notice a difference in how flexible you are within two to four weeks. However, that's only if you practice stretching at least five days every week. You also want to practice an array of stretches so that your whole body feels the burn.How can I get flexible hips fast? ›
- Kneel on your right knee.
- Put your left foot on the floor with your left knee at a 90-degree angle.
- Drive your hip forward. ...
- Hold the position for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 2 to 5 times with each leg, trying to increase your stretch each time.
But sitting criss-cross applesauce isn't just for little kids — it has advantages for grown-ups too. "Our body loves variety — moving in and out of different positions, including sitting cross-legged, is very beneficial for maintaining range of motion in the knee and hip joint," Duvall says.What are the 9 movements of the hip? ›
6. The movements that take place at the hip joint are: flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, lateral (external) rotation and medial (internal) rotation.What are the 7 movements of the hip? ›
All the anatomical parts of the hip work together to enable various movements. Hip movements include flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, circumduction, and hip rotation.How long does it take to strengthen hips? ›
Developing greater strength and endurance of the hip stability muscles tends to occur between three and six weeks.Should I do mobility in the morning or night? ›
Stretching first thing in the morning can relieve any tension or pain from sleeping the night before. It also helps increase your blood flow and prepares your body for the day ahead. Stretching before bed relaxes your muscles and helps prevent you from waking up with more pain.
While a mild hip flexor strain can take just a few weeks to heal, it may take more than 6 weeks to recover from a more severe strain.What exercises aggravate hip pain? ›
Avoid exercises involving repetitive hip flexion, the motion involving bringing your hip or leg up toward your chest. If doing squats, keep them shallow and hold off on lunges entirely, until you receive a diagnosis from your doctor. Do not work through pain. When walking or running, pay attention to pain.Can you regain hip mobility? ›
Strength Training for the Hip and Pelvis
While these stretches will improve your hip mobility, strength training is another excellent way to improve mobility and decrease the chance of injury. With that said, here are some strength exercises that will primarily work the hip flexor muscles: Bridges. Split Squat.
Hamstring tension limits the hip joint to approximately 90 degrees of flexion when the knee is fully extended. Flexion of the knee joint releases tension in the hamstrings, therefore allowing for hip flexion of approximately 120-135 degrees.How can I realign my hips without a chiropractor? ›
- Sit in a chair with both feet on the ground.
- Raise the leg of the affected hip and place the ankle across the knee of the opposite leg.
- Lean forward slightly and press directly down on the raised knee with your hand.
- Hold the position for 5 to 8 seconds.
- Repeat 3 to 5 times before changing sides.
After about six to eight weeks, you'll notice significant improvements since the ligaments and joints are starting to heal. Also, it's fine if you can only meet with our chiropractors once a week during this period. We'll assess if you're on the right track of the treatment plan during every session.How do chiropractors pop hips? ›
Bend your knees and place the bottoms of your feet together so that your heels touch. Take a deep breath in to center your stretch. Gently press your knees down on both sides toward the floor and breathe out. You may hear your hip pop.How do you go from stiff to flexible? ›
- Move more. Just sitting on your work desk for hours and gazing at your system can wreck not just your hip muscles but your lower back and traps too. ...
- Dance it out. ...
- Do basic yoga. ...
- Sit and sleep properly. ...
- Be consistent with your routine.
Simply use your fingertips to apply pressure against sore muscle and hold. The pressure should be strong enough for you to feel but not so much that it causes you to tense up. Hold for 60 or more seconds, the longer the better. You should notice a gradual decrease in tension and increased relaxation with time.What exercises flex the hip? ›
- Straight leg raise.
- Sliding mountain climbers.
- Pigeon pose.
- Jump lunge.
- Bulgarian split squat.
- Kettlebell swing.
- Banded hip march.
When you're sitting at a desk, aim to keep your knees roughly level with your hips. This will let you keep what Truumees calls “a more neutral back alignment” so that your back muscles won't have to work as hard.Does squatting increase hip mobility? ›
Learn to do deep squats to improve hip mobility, health and get a better butt. You've seen people learn how to do squats in the park and barbell squat at the gym, but most people only lower their bodies until their thighs are parallel with their knees.Why do females cross their legs when standing? ›
Comfort: We tend to cross our legs when we feel comfortable, confident, and relaxed. For some people this is a naturally comfortable posture, and women who wear short skirts will often cross their legs. Others will cross to shift their weight if their legs are feeling tired.What are the prime movers of the hip? ›
The prime movers (agonist) for hip flexion are the: Psoas major muscle, a long, tapering (fusiform) muscle that originates at either side of the spine and inserts at the lesser trochanter of the femur. The psoas muscle contracts when the hip is flexed.What are the 14 joint movements? ›
|Hip||Ball and socket||Flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, rotation, circumduction|
|Shoulder||Ball and socket||Flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, rotation, circumduction|
- Locomotion (i.e. gait)
The hip joint is a multiaxial joint and permits a wide range of motion; flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, external rotation, internal rotation and circumduction.What are the 8 movement patterns? ›
- Hip Hinge.
- Hip Dominant.
- Knee Dominant.
- Vertical Push.
- Vertical Pull.
- Horizontal Push.
- Horizontal Pull.
- Rotational and Diagonal.
There are seven basic movements the human body can perform and all other exercises are merely variations of these seven: Pull, Push, Squat, Lunge, Hinge, Rotation and Gait. When performing all of these movements, you will be able to stimulate all of the major muscle groups in your body.Does riding a bike strengthen your hips? ›
Cycling keeps the hips mobile which benefits overall hip function and athletic performance. It tones the abdominal and oblique muscles, but it also engages the ones on your back, legs, and hips.
So the good news is, you probably don't have to worry about over training your glutes, and all the work you're doing is essential. Training every day of the week is okay, as long as you structure it so your muscles can recover. Training glutes between two and six times a week is optimal.Is hip thrusting once a week enough? ›
The Hip Thrust should be a staple in your program and should be done 1-2 times per week. If you are using it as your Strength movement, think heavy weight for low repetitions. It can also act as a supplement lift on days that you are going heavy on squats and deadlifts.How do you massage tight hips? ›
Simply use your fingertips to apply pressure against sore muscle and hold. The pressure should be strong enough for you to feel but not so much that it causes you to tense up. Hold for 60 or more seconds, the longer the better. You should notice a gradual decrease in tension and increased relaxation with time.How many times a week should you train mobility? ›
Healthy adults should do flexibility exercises (stretches, yoga, or tai chi) for all major muscle-tendon groups—neck, shoulders, chest, trunk, lower back, hips, legs, and ankles—at least two to three times a week.Should you do mobility in the morning or at night? ›
Stretching first thing in the morning can relieve any tension or pain from sleeping the night before. It also helps increase your blood flow and prepares your body for the day ahead. Stretching before bed relaxes your muscles and helps prevent you from waking up with more pain.Is it OK to do mobility everyday? ›
Cervantes recommends doing mobility exercises daily. “The older you are, or the more sedentary you are, usually the more mobility work you need to do,” she says, adding that she likes to do a short mobility workout with multiple exercises before any workout she does.What are the signs of tight hips? ›
- A sharp or sudden pain in the hip, pelvis or groin area.
- Cramping, tender or sore muscles along the upper leg.
- Swelling or bruising on the hips or thigh.
- Pain in an adjacent muscle group, like your glutes or core.
- Decreased strength along the groin area.
Tight hip flexors create an anterior pull on the pelvis known as an anterior pelvic tilt. This alters posture and also inhibits, or turns off, the opposing muscle group, the gluteus maximus, leading to muscle imbalances. Microspasms or trigger points often develop in the overused/tight muscles like the hip flexors.Can massage loosen tight hips? ›
Stretching and massaging your hip flexors can help loosen these muscles and decrease any pain you're feeling. An added benefit is increased flexibility, so this is an important exercise to try.