12 Gifts for your hips!
As wonderful as it is to give to others if you do not give health to yourself first you will not have the ability to give a lot to others.
There are so many levels to having optimum health and fitness and unless we breakdown your specific goals and make a plan we run the risk of simply not taking the right steps to achieve them.
Many individuals want to do more than they are physically capable of doing with safe, confident movement. Although with the best of intentions many folks skip right to activities like running, skiing, golfing and tennis because they are so enjoyable. Often, they lack the foundational movement skills that would decrease the risk of injury and improve the quality of the experience on many levels during and after with improved recovery.
During my discussion last week with Jon McComb about knees I hinted about the hips playing a key role in movement. We can joke about the hips, gluts, tush, and rear but it’s no joke if you don’t have one that works! It’s also important to take a look at the front of the hip as often tightness or weakness in this area can contribute to movement issues.
Adequate hip strength and mobility are crucial for positive hip health! Each hip is a ball and socket joint, meaning it is capable of movement in 360 degrees. However, this freedom of mobility leaves lots of room for error including muscular imbalances, mobility issues, and age-related degeneration. The good news – quality foundational movement can correct and prevent most of these issues, as well as reduce the impact and pain associated with existing problems.
Anatomy bit: The term ‘hip’ refers to a large anatomical region encompassing the pelvis, sacrum, and femur bones as well as muscles groups like the glutes and piriformis (butt), psoas (hip flexor), and adductors (groin). Functions of the hip contribute to walking and running, squatting, hinging, and maintaining alignment of the low back, knees, and lower extremities.
Visual Inspection: How do they look?
- Are you hips level as in up and down, or is one rotated forward or back?
- Do you have a defined butt muscle or a flat butt?
Movement Inspection: How do they move?
- Can you hinge, and squat using your hips and not your back?
- Can you walk, run, and do all the activities you would like to enjoy?
Sensory Inspection: How do they feel?
- Do you have pain at rest and/or with movement?
- Do you have tingling or pain that radiates down your leg or up into your back?
- Do your hips feel strong and do they stabilize you? (Think balance.)
12 Gifts for Your Hips
#1 Foam Roller or Ball to Glutes, Quads and Hip Flexors
For myofascial release and tissue maintenance, use a small ball at the wall for glute release or a foam roller for glutes, quads, and hip flexors.
#2 Controlled Articular Rotations of the Hip Joint
From standing, or from all fours on the ground, carefully move your leg in circles through the hip joint. The movement should be comfortable – explore your hip range of motion but do not move though pain. Popping or clicking is okay as long as it is not accompanied by discomfort!
We need to attack hip mobility from all angles…
#3 90/90 Stretch
The beauty of this stretch is that it allows for both internal and external rotation at the hip joint. Keep a tall, neutral back and lead forward with your belly button.
#4 Frog and Adductor rocks
The frog allows us to mobilize hip flexion and groin flexibility with a neutral back, ultimately patterning the squat. In the all fours position, spread knees wider than hips. Keeping back set in neutral, hinge hips back towards butt.
Similar to the frog, take one leg wide. If less mobile, keep the foot/leg behind the hip.
The pigeon stretches the hip in external rotation, targeting the glutes and piriformis. Cross one leg across your body with a bent knee. Maintain a neutral back and sit back into the hip.
#6 Cross Body Hip
Hook a strap around your foot. Lying on your back adjust the tension in the strap so you have full extension of your knee. (No bend in it.) Gently move foot across body until a gentle hip stretch is felt. Hold 1-5 minutes to get tissue change!
#7 Half Kneeling Stretch
This stretch targets the hip flexors, the muscles that cross the hip joint anteriorly (front). These are the muscles that can get extremely tight and weak when sitting in a desk, driving, or Netflix-ing!
- Place on knee on the ground, adding a pad under the knee if necessary
- Tuck the hip under on the ‘down knee’ side, as if you’re bringing your belt buckle towards your belly button.
- Hold for 60 seconds, or add small pulses forward and back
- Do not allow the front of your core to open up
#8 Half Kneeling Inline Balance
Balance is a great way to integrate the different segments of your lower body and core. It also challenges your brain! Adjust your Half Kneeling Hip Flexor stretch until your feet are in-line, and hold for up to 60 seconds. If you require more of a challenge, close your eyes.
Now let’s build some strength…
#9 Glute Bridges
Bridges are a great exercise to strengthen and build your butt!
- Lie on your back with knees bent, feet shoulder-width apart.
- Set your rib-hip connection by connecting chin, ribs and hips to the floor. (Only a small low back curve.)
- Push your heels into the floor and engage (squeeze) your glute muscles and lift your hips off the floor creating a straight line from shoulders to hips to knees.
- Hold for 2 seconds and lower your back down to the floor while keeping your core muscles engaged. The torso should move as a solid unit.
Too easy? Look to progressing gluts with hip dominant exercises like deadlifts, and kettlebell swings.
Clamshells are small movements that do wonders for your hips. Place a light band around your legs, just above your knees. Lie on your side with your belly button pointing slightly to floor. Stack your knees and feet and then rotate knee to roof from the hip. Do not let the hip or back roll back as you lift the knee. Perform these until you feel warmth and work in your glute. Match the number on your other side.
#11 Band Walks
Place a band above your knees. Keeping feet hip with apart and as straight as possible step to the left and right, then forward and back. Ensure you keep a neutral back and feel the work coming form the hips! If you feel this in your knees then your set up needs adjusting.
#12 Cross Crawl March
Standing tall bring your opposite knee and hand together for a cross tap. Slowly control this motion left and right keeping good posture and balance. Repeat 10 each side depending on ability and pace.
Give your hips some of these gifts this season. I know they are going to love them!
Next week: Gifts for your shoulders.
Written by: Sheila Hamilton December 2017
Click here to listen to Sheila discuss this topic with Jon McComb on the “Fitness Segment,” which airs live every Thursday at 9:05 am CKNW 980am radio.
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