Tight hips? Try this!
Tips for tight hips and legs
In the 10 years that I have been in the fitness industry, I have realised more and more that most of us are pretty darn tight. It is most likely a reflection of our jobs, how sedentary we’ve become and our lifestyles in general. With that being said, most of my sessions involve some form of stretching or mobilization for the individuals or groups that I train.
I truly feel stretching often is of great importance from a long term movement perspective and injury prevention point of view. Have all stretches worked for everyone? The answer is NO, not every client or individual is the same. Sometimes it is a case of referring them to a health practitioner such as a Chiropractor or Osteo in order to free up and sort out their movement. So seeing one of the health clinicians that I have just mentioned might need to be your first destination.
Please note, I realise that not all stretches depicted may be of “Yogi” standards. However the general application is there and you can go deeper into the rabbit hole of stretching if you feel the need. Definitely consider going to a few good yoga classes, it'll be worth it.
You'll also see mobility exercises that target your ankles and even your upper body region. I've included these because sometimes locked up ankles or a tight thoracic region can have an off-shoot effect to the rest of your body i.e. your hips! I have visited an Osteo that my trainer had referred me to when my lower back/hips have been a bit out of whack. You know what the Osteo said was the cause? It was my thoracic region/chest region that was the main issue. So no matter how much stretching I was doing, it wasn't freeing up my movement, I had to seek help.
So...without further ado, here is a simple list of some of the stretches or mobility exercises that I have learnt from courses such as the RKC and FMS, which I have prescribed to my clients over the years for tight hips and legs. This might be exactly what you need to free up those hips or an add in to your exercise routine.
Hip flexor Stretch
Assume a kneeling position, place mat or pads under knees if sore
Have knees at hip width distance, calves or shins are parallel
Step one leg forward, being mindful that the knee still on the ground is still under your hip
Squeeze the glute or butt cheek of the leg that is down and keep active
Drive the knee into the ground
Press the leg away from you, (this is a sensation or feeling to create tension)
Slightly pulse your hip back and forth
You are aiming to feel a stretch or pull in the top of your hip, yes you may feel your quad too
Do this for about 30 seconds, then swap sides
Go onto all fours
Again, pads under the knees
I like to keep feet or shins parallel as possible
Feet turned out
Keep or try to maintain a nice curve in your spine (attach your “tail” or rotate your butt to the back of your head)
Either be on your hands or forearms, head in neutral position
Pulse or move your hips back and forth
DON’T put yourself into excruciating pain, you are trying to spread your knees further BUT, if you are putting a pain face on while doing this then back it off by bringing your knees closer together
Relax, breathe and move
Pigeon ( I want to keep this one as simple as possible)
Be mindful of your knee/s on this stretch or pose
Start on all fours, shift into a plank position
Pull your right knee towards your right wrist
Lengthen and walk your rear leg back
You may want to place a pillow under your hip if stretch is to full on
Try to let your pelvis sink towards the ground
Shift your hips from side to side or just hold position
Breathe and try to relax, hold for as long as you can, (at least 30 secs)
I have held this stretch for up to 2 minutes, you may want to work up to this at first
Ankle dorsiflexion (again, please be mindful and careful going into this stretch)
Grab a pole/broomhandle
Assume a half kneeling position
Place a pad under knee if you are experiencing pain
Place pole next to little toe of foot that is in front, keep pole vertical
Carefully pulse knee pass or to the outside of pole
ENSURE you keep your foot straight, arch strong and heel and big toe down
You should feel a stretch through the back of your heel
Pump (PLEASE avoid if pain experienced in lower back when getting into this stretch)
Lay face down on a mat or soft surface
Have feet wider than shoulder width distance
Place hands underneath line of shoulders
Gently press hands into ground and lift upper body away from floor
Try to lock elbows out
Your hips should be slightly elevated from the floor
Pull shoulders away from ears
Pull or lift through the crown of your head
Look over left shoulder, drop right hip towards ground, alternate and repeat (this is prying through the hips)
Downward dog (transitioned from pump)
Lift your tail towards ceiling
Have knees slightly bent
Hands flat on floor
Shoulders pulled away from ears
Press chest lightly towards legs
Let your head sag
Go back to pump and then back to Downward dog position
Brettzel (watch the video)
Lying on your right shoulder, your top leg will be in front of you, making 90 degrees at the hip and knee
Place your right hand on the knee in front of you
With your left hold, take hold of your right ankle - gently pull your leg away from you
Drop your left shoulder towards the ground behind you - feeling the stretch through your back, chest, quadricep and hips in general.
Focus on your breathing
With each long breath that you take out, drop your shoulder toward the ground
I recommend practicing this for at least 60 seconds on one side then slowly swapping over to the other to repeat
So there you have it. Some fantastic stretches to implement into your weekly health and fitness routines.
I do believe, that getting into a routine or practice of moving often will help you immensely if you wish to free up your body. There are so many programs online or of course in the real world, that you can participate in which will help. You will hear this from me often, you just have to find something and just do it!
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