Well I’m 2 for 3 on this Workout Wednesday thing. Maybe I’ll get better at this one of these days!
Today’s post does not describe a workout in itself but a very important component of a workout program for just about anyone. Due to the fact that many of us spend our days sitting for 8+ hours, plus additional time if you sit during your commute, we’re talking about 10+ hours of immobility for your hips on a daily basis. Unless you make a concerted effort to mobilize the muscles and tissues surrounding your hips, it is very difficult to get them “unstuck”, so to speak, even if you work out on a daily basis.
As we sit…and sit and sit, it’s not just our hip flexors that get tight either. Many people foam roll and stretch their hip flexors, but forget about another very important part of our hip musculature that also gets neglected with lack of movement — our adductors.
This group of muscles along your inner thigh attaches to the inner rim of your pelvis, as well as further down the inner part of your thigh and some of them travel all the way down to below your knee. Incredibly important to the movement quality of your lower body, these muscles are often neglected, tight, and fibrotic, leading to improper movement patterns and less than optimal movement quality.
Although foam rolling can help this area immensely, there are also some dynamic mobility drills that we can do to help these muscles, tendons, and fascia move more smoothly, allowing better movement at the hip overall. This can hopefully lead to less pain and stiffness, and better quality movement for motions such as squats and deadlifts.
Enter: hip mobility. There are all sorts of drills and stretches that you can do to increase your hip mobility, so my suggestion below is not the end all be all. It is, however, one of my favorite ways to get my hips moving, and is included in the dynamic warm up of just about every single workout that I do. Weather I’m heading into the weight room or out on a run, you can usually find me doing these funny little things ahead of time.
I tend to do these towards the end of my dynamic warm up, when most of my muscles are already warm, blood is flowing, and everything has already started to loosen up a little bit. Note: I would not try to jump right into these with stark cold muscles, or you’re toying with the risk of a groin strain right out of the gait.
Equipment needed: None. Just you and your warm muscles.
The set up: Make sure you have enough space to move into lateral lunges in each direction. For the first stretch, start with your feet about hip width apart. Slowly lower into a deep squat, making sure that you keep your back nice and flat (not arching or tucking). For the second stretch, you will come out into a deep side lunge position, again ensuring a flat back and engaged core.
- Stretch A – Deep squat mobility. Seated into your deep squat, rotate at the hips to mobilize the fascia and tissues of your hip in all directions. Hold your hands in front of your chest, pressing your elbows into each knee to maximize the stretch to your adductor group. Rotate throughout your comfortable range of motion for about 30 seconds to one minute. (*Note: Please excuse the slightly strange faces I’m making in these videos) 🙂
- Stretch B – Lateral lunge (adductor mobility). Sit comfortably into your deep lateral lunge. Try to keep the foot of your bent leg flat on the ground, but this may not happen right away. Move slowly back and forth between sides, assisting the movement with your hands, trying to keep the foot of your bent leg flat on the floor after a few reps. Once you get to a point where that foot can remain flat on the floor, hold the stretch for a moment longer and rotate your torso toward your straight leg for a deeper stretch. Once you feel ready, you can move between your lunges without any assistance from your hands, really warming up your hip musculature at their end range of motion.
Try to do each of these drills for a couple of minutes each in order to allow your body time to warm up to the movements. Really sit into your hips, try to breathe deeply and evenly, and allow your body to warm into the movements gradually. If you can’t get all the way into the deep squat or deep side lunge position right away or you have pain doing so, keep yourself to your pain free range of motion, and only move into deeper motion as your body becomes more comfortable doing so.
Now get those hips moving!