If you suffer from chronic pain in the knee or lower back, you may find a combination of super tight hips and a lack of mobility to blame. Movements like walking, running, climbing stairs, lifting your children and getting in and out of the tub all require an unrestricted and pain-free range of motion in the hips. Whether you spend your days slaving away in front of the computer or finding salvation in front of the TV set, the problem is getting worse. Sitting down for extended periods causes the tissues around the hips to become gluedtogether, limiting your potential for movement. This then leads to chronic pain and injury in joints like the knee and lower back. But, I stretch every day, doesn’t that help? Flexibility and mobility may seem the same, but they’re entirely different things. Flexibility relates to how far the muscles and tissues can stretch, while mobility is more about the range of motion in the joint. The ideal range of motion for your hips should include the full extension (standing tall) and full flexion (folding forward). If you find you have difficulty getting into these end ranges, don’t worry.
These 5 Mobility Exercises Will Have You Moving Gracefully like a Gazelle in No Time.
1. Rolling the ITB
The ITB is the band of tissue running down the outer side of your thigh. Perform this exercise exactly how you would when rolling the quad, except this time place the roller under the side of your thigh. (2-3 minutes each leg)
2. Kneading The Glute
Sit on the floor and place a medium sized ball, like a lacrosse ball, baseball or tennis ball, underneath one of your cheeks. Massage the ball into your glute using the ground and your bodyweight to provide pressure. The trick here is to move around on the ball until you find a spot of high tension and focus on kneading that spot out. Try to relax, breathe deeply and imagine you’re kneading dough for a pizza base. (5-minutes per side)
3. Kneading the Sides
Perform this like you would when kneading the glutes. This time, face sideways and place the ball on the side of your leg just below your hipbone. Stay here applying pressure with your bodyweight and concentrate on relaxing as much as you can. (2-3 minutes each side)
4. Rolling the Quad
Lay face down on the floor with the roller underneath your thigh. Just like the previous exercises, you’ll need to hunt for areas of tension. When you find one, relax, breath deeply and make small rolling movements over the tender spot. Remember, pizza base, pizza base. Use a foam roller, to begin with, and in time when your tissues become more pliable, you can upgrade to a harder pipe for added resistance. (2-3 minutes per side)
5. The Lunge Stretch
After loosening up the tissues surrounding the hips with the previous exercises, it’s now time to hold the hips in a position of full extension and reduce the shortening effect that sitting has caused to the hip flexor. Kneel on the ground on one knee in a lunge type position with an excellent upright posture, trying not to lean forwards or backward. (4-5 minutes each side) Now, what are you waiting for? Start rolling and kneading tonight to improve your mobility! What do you think of these 5 mobility exercises? Do you have any favorites we missed? Let us know in the comments below.