Hello again everyone and a happy Tuesday to you. As excited as I was to see the Premier League get back underway this past weekend (COME ON FULHAM!), it is still a sign of summer ending. I do love me some fall though, good beers, back into action with rugby both watching & playing, the old hand egg (football) & the fantasy variations of it as well get into swing.
For some, it means things crank up a bit at work, and that means loads of work being done sitting at a desk. With that usually comes some sort of tightness in the hip, or even lower back, area. You’ve all seen it or experienced it, that nagging hip that will just not go away. What do we all do? We go for the general hip flexor stretch (or something similar). Riddle me this, how many times has it actually gotten better? No, really think about it. I don’t mean that temporary “relief” that just keeps your situation the same, if not worse. I mean it stopped bugging you for an extended period of time, and if/when it came back it wasn’t nearly the nag it was before. Alright, now that we’ve all admitted we have a problem (first step right?), let’s look at how to address your hip discomfort properly.
The likelihood is that said hip isn’t tight, it’s actually unstable and the “tightness” is your body fighting like hell to keep everything in place. Rather than the same “stretch” here are 6 exercises that will actually relieve that tight hip;
There are about a million different variations on this baby, but here’s the most common one I use. I like my clients to focus on reaching their fingers and heels, as far away from each other as possible. Finally, exhale as you extend your leg and arm, it’ll be the exact opposite of what your inclination is to do, but it works, trust me. Shoot for 5-10 per side.
Yes, this is simple, but I like to keep it simple…well you know the rest. The focus here is to raise your hips and squeeze your glutes hard, like you’re trying to turn coal into a diamond back there. It’s not about getting your hips as high as possible, that’s just your low back doing extra work we don’t need it to. Also, refrain from pushing through your forefoot (toes), it’ll be more effective. 10-15 reps should make for good work here.
-Cook Hip Lift
Getting more into the Jedi mind tricks of the trade here. It’s just a single leg version of the bridge, with a twist. Take a lacrosse or tennis ball and place in at the crease of your hip on one side. Pull the "ball" side knee, towards you and hold the ball there just with your leg, nothing else. Use the opposite foot, on the ground to bridge up, squeeze the glute and hold for a solid 2 count. Lower the hips and repeat. I like to keep this at around 10 per side.
-90/90 Breathing w/ Hip Lift/Shift
A very popular warm-up exercise for most of my clients, along with the dead bug. When doing this, it’s important to keep pressure both on the wall and the roller while breathing. The biggest mistake people wind up making is they exhale very little. The more you exhale the more you can inhale, make sense? My favorite cue for inhale is to make your “belt” bigger. Not a flattering thought, but most get the point. 5 good breaths should do the job, but I'd limit it to 10 if you want to do more.
-The “Better” Hip Flexor Stretch
Yes, guilty as charged, I cheated a bit here. There is an actual possibility that your hip is tight, but the stretch you’re doing is flawed. Try to drive the foam roller into the floor with the palms of your hands and squeeze the glute of the knee that’s down aka the side being stretched. Careful to not go into lumbar extension, i.e. using your low back to extend your hips. Hold for 10 second bursts, 2-3 times, then switch sides.
Planks are great, but just hanging out on your low back for 2 minutes straight does your hips zero favors. Try this progression on a plank to see if it help stabilize your core (and hips). Get into a front plank position, squeeze your hips and try to pull your elbows along the floor to your toes. 10-15 seconds is all you need to make this one effective.
There you have it folks.
These aren’t 6 of the most knockout crazy exercises that will set the world alight, but they should do you better than just arbitrary stretching now and again. Hope everyone has a nice day, go out there and get after it.
Also, if you haven't yet checked it out, there is a free program sign-up on the home page. It's a free resource so what have you got to lose, right? Go ahead and check it out, yes now, go!
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS