Tight hips seem to be a common problem for almost everybody — from runners to cyclists, from deskbound bloggers to dancers.
Tight hips are a common issue for many people. Whether you are just into weekend workouts or follow athlete level training, tight hips can occur and cause you problems.
On the most basic level, tight hip muscles can really ache. But when you look at the deeper effects, it can be startling how much tight hips can affect you. There are over 25 muscles that make up your hip functions. Tightness in them can affect your pelvis and spine, causing backache.
In more extreme cases this can lead to curvature of the spine. Tight hips also restrict your movement in the surrounding areas. It can also cause your glutes and hamstrings to become weak. This, in turn, causes other muscle groups to overwork to compensate, leaving you at a higher risk of injury. So, to help you out, we’ll be discussing the below:
What causes tight hips?
One of the most common causes of tight hips is sitting down too often for too long. For a lot of people, this is inevitable as part of their working life. As you sit, your hips are half contracted, with your knees bent. No other muscles are picking up slack to maintain your position, and so the hip muscles rest in a shortened pose. Over time the muscles are more familiar with the need for them to remain shorter, creating tight hips.
Of course, there are plenty of active lifestyles that can run the risk of tight hips. Cyclists, for example, are constantly keeping their hip muscles in that shortened position as the draw up their legs. Additionally, weightlifting that incorporates a lot of squats etc can have a similar effect. Even runners aren’t excused, as they are routinely shortening their hip muscles as they lift their legs.
How can stretching help loosen up tight hips?
Stretching regularly encourages the hip muscles to come out of their habit of remaining short. They also encourage a range of motion that is essential for a healthy balanced body. Stretches also help to build up the muscles that support the hips.
Best stretches for sore hips
Butterfly stretch: Sit on the floor and press the soles of your feet together. Hold them in place with your hands if you wish. While sat straight, pull your feet along the floor, closer to your body until you feel a stretch. Then, lean forward to maximize this strength.
Lying hip rotations: Lie on your back with your knee bent and foot flat on the floor. With your opposite leg fully extended, press into the foot on the floor to shift onto your left hip. Then, squeeze your glutes to press your left hip open until you feel a stretch.
Piriformis stretch: Lie on the back with both feet on the floor with both knees bent. Place the right ankle over the left knee. Pull the left thigh to your chest and hold the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Foam roller hip rotations: Lie on your side with the foam roller under your hip. Rotate your body about 45 degrees. Move the foam roller up and down along the side of your bum. You can support more of your body weight on your hands if you are feeling strong discomfort.
Pigeon pose: Sit with feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Place your ankle on top of the opposite thigh and stretch your right foot. Put your hands behind you on the floor, fingertips facing away from your body. Press your hips toward your heels. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat.
Frog stretch: Position yourself on your hands and knees with your back straight. Then, gradually let your knees spread out as far as they can go and then slide your feet in line with your knees. Your shins should be parallel. Lean your weight forward onto your forearms. Hold for approx 30 seconds depending on your comfort levels. To maximize the stretch, try slowly moving your hips forward and backwards to engage a full range of muscles.
Kneeling lunge: Kneel on right knee and place the left foot flat on the floor in front of you, knee bent. Press your hips forward until you feel the stretch. Lift your arms high, with elbows close to your head and palms facing inwards. Maximize this stretch by arching your back (though you should ensure that your chin remains parallel to the floor). Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Take home message
Your hip flexors are very important in contributing to your overall health. Taking care of them should be a top priority. It is a priority simply satisfied with these stretches, which can be incorporated into your warm up and warm down. As well as preventing long-term health problems, solving tight hips can also help short term. When the hip muscles are strong, other muscle groups can be more easily built. This means your extra warm up and warm down exercises could set your new PB – either out on the treadmill, bike or at the squat rack.
So what are you waiting for? Solve your hip issues today!