Movement is medicine. And if we're not moving, we're not getting better.
Most us will sit for hours on end, train intensely for an hour or two, then go back to sitting for most of the day. Our hips don't like this. They deserve better.
Lack of movement and mobility in the hips can lead to:
- Poor exercise positioning
- Potential risk of injury
- Lower back pain
- Postural issues
There's an ongoing debate about which mobility or stretching methods are "the best." Some say you should never do static stretching because it will inhibit your performance and cause regression in your strength. Others say SMR (self-myofascial release) is a complete waste of time and offers nothing but temporary relief.
Here's What We Do Know
- Our hips are in a constant state of flexion. Whether we're sitting at our desk or at the dinner table, our hips are flexed most of the day.
- Our hips have multiple functions. Similar to your shoulder, your hips are a ball and socket joint with multidirectional movement and rotational functions. While flexion and extension are both important functions of the hip, they also adduct, abduct, rotate internally/externally, and stabilize. These key functions are grossly undertrained.
- Consistent mobility work has a ton of ongoing benefits. You'll feel awesome, you'll get into better positions in the squat and deadlift, your risk of injury will decrease, and your posture will improve.
Mobility can be summed up as our joints' ability to actively travel through their intended ranges of motion. It's flexibility combined with strength and control. When it comes to hip mobility and adding it to your dynamic warm-up, here are a couple of drills you can try for yourself. Both use a foam roller to keep you honest with your technique.
Hip Rotations Over Foam Roller
- Hold on to something for balance and stand a foam roller up next to you.
- Bring your knee up towards your chest and open your hip so that your leg goes over the foam roller.
- Bring your leg around the foam roller, internally rotating the hip.
- Bring your feet together to your starting position.
- Do the same process in reverse.
- Keeping your leg bent, extend your hip back.
- Externally rotate the hip, bringing your knee over the foam roller.
- Adduct the hip, bringing it in toward your center.
- Bring your feet back together and repeat.
Use this as part of your dynamic warm-up. Do 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps each side.
Leg Whips Over Foam Roller
- Lay on your back with a foam roller next to your right hip. Bring the roller closer towards your knee if your hips are really tight.
- With your left leg bent, do a single-leg hip bridge. Your hips will remain off the floor throughout the set.
- With your right leg straight, abduct it out to your side, avoiding the foam roller.
- Bring your leg back to your center and bring it forward toward the floor. Don't let your foot touch the ground. Then repeat this process.
Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps each side.
The next two drills are great for your active recovery routine. You can do them post-training, on your rest days, or sparingly throughout the day to give those hips some much needed attention.
Quad/Hip Stretch Against Bench
- Get on both knees in front of a bench with a foam roller or bar pad wedged behind your knees.
- Slowly lean back onto the bench on your elbows.
- For a greater stretch, rest your upper arms/triceps on the bench.
- For an even greater stretch, extend your arms overhead and reach behind you.
- You should feel a big stretch in your quads and hips.
Use it as your post-workout recovery routine. Hold for at least 1-2 minutes.
- Get into a 90/90 position – both legs bent at 90-degree angles.
- With your chest upright, "curl" your belly button down towards your front knee.
- Hold this position for at least one minute. You should feel a good stretch in your front glute.
- Keeping your legs in the same position, rotate your torso so your belly button is squared up with your rear knee and hold this position for another minute. You should feel a stretch in your rear glute.
- After a minute, perform 10 external rotations with your back leg, driving your front knee to the floor.
- On the tenth rep, push both knees out wide to the floor and hold for 10 seconds.
- Rotate to the other side and repeat the entire process.
Focus on your breathing: 3 seconds in through the nose and 3 seconds out through the mouth. Use sparingly throughout the day and on your rest days.