Revisited Demo: Hip Openers
Runner or desk-sitter or both, this is for you!
Originally Published June 8th, 2017
Hips! Our poor hips. All the tendons and muscles around the hips are the driving force for being able to walk, run or even stand up. They are often overlooked as the cause for other problems like back or knee pain or even ankles.
We are meant to move in an upright position but, in the office we sit down for more than 8 hours a day. This can lead to tightness around the hip girdle, glutes and more. Tightness can suggest that something isn't functioning properly or is weak and, in this case, if you don't use it, you lose it (strength, that is).
But all is not lost! Sitting down is a fact of life these days so I've put together some simple exercises in a video to help you improve your hip health.
Do a couple of these exercises during the day, even just for 5 minutes, as you get up in the morning, sneakily next to your desk or when you get home at night. Choose from both mobility and stability types - stretching alone won't get the job done. You also need to build strength.
Check out the video and the full description of each movement below.
1. Child's Pose with knees apart
This one is such a great movement - it gets into everything! A great stretch for your tired muscles in your hips and back and it gives you a truly relaxing, centering sensation.
Perfect for first thing in the morning and/or last thing at night or as part of your warm up for a workout. Gets your body and mind in sync.
How To: Knees apart, reach forwards with your fingers while sitting your bum back and breathe through it. It should feel like a full body stretch.
Reps and Sets: Stay there for 5 full breaths.
Optional: I often pair this with downward dog to make it more dynamic. Hold for 10-15 secs repeat 3-5 times
2. Hip Flow Opener
Another dynamic stretch, this is fantastic for really digging into those hips and the slight twist opens up your back too.
How To: Sit in a squat position with toes facing slightly apart. Put one hand on the ground by your instep and raise the other one to the sky, looking up to the tops of your fingers. Then change sides.
Reps and Sets: Pause for 3-5 seconds each side. Alternate, doing 5-10 reps each side.
3. Hip Flexor & Adductor Stretch
A dynamic stretch that gets right into it!
How To: Place one foot on the ground and the other stretched out behind you on the toes. Lean forward all the way, hold onto your ankle with one hand and place the other flat on the ground under your shoulder.Push your hips as far as you can in the air and then as far as you can back down. Keep your core active.
Reps and Sets: 5 reps each side.
4. Hip Flexor Stretch
This is a great active stretch. It opens and closes. Very important to stay strong and stable throughout.
How To: One foot flat, one knee on the floor, hands on hips and neutral, stable spine. Extend your knee forward over your toes. You'll feel it in your hip flexors and adductors.
Remember to squeeze the glutes and your shoulder blades together. Keep your stomach muscles active. Really lean into the stretch at the bottom.
Reps and Sets: 5-10 reps each side with a 2-3 second pause in the full stretch position.
5. Sitting Squat with or without a weight
This is one of my favourite movements and a staple in the programs I build for my clients. Stability and mobility all in one.
How To: Sit in a squat position with toes pointing slightly out. Push your knees out with your elbows. Keep as upright as possible and your spine in a neutral position.
Keep your stomach muscles active. Keep your heels down. Don't forget to breathe!
If you're new to the movement, do it without weights at first.
Reps and Sets: Sit and hold this position for 1 to 3 minutes at a time, up to 3 sets with a nice break in between.
Optional: Build up to using a Kettlebell or other weight, then build up to more weight. Before moving to weight, make sure your comfortable holding the squat position for 1 minute with feet flat on the floor. Then, with weight added do 3x 60-90 seconds, building up the weight each time you get comfortable.
6. Split Squat
Another one I use with most client programs as it is a fantastic dynamic stretch with mobility in tow.
How To: Start with your front foot elevated on a block or step then move to flat on the floor. Glide your knee over the top of your front toes. Keep your core active and stable and your back neutral. Squeeze your glutes as you move forward and press your shoulder blades together.
Reps and Sets: 3 x 5-10 reps each side