When your hips are out of alignment, everything is more difficult. As part of your core, your hip muscles are largely responsible for helping you complete both everyday movements and daily workouts. And the more you put them to work, the more you risk injury if they aren’t in proper position. But through a simple core-strengthening routine that focuses on this area, you can correct muscle imbalances and help square those hips for action.
Start with standard bridges. These easy, helpful moves are one of the most effective for correcting muscle imbalances due to their ability to strengthen the hips and glutes. Lying on your back on a mat with your knees bent and feet on the floor, contract your abs and press your lower back into the floor. Squeeze your glutes as you raise them off the floor. Hold for a count of one before returning to the starting position. Be sure to keep your back straight and use your heels to help push during the motion. Aim for two to three sets of 15 reps.
Take a seat on your stability ball for a series of stability ball marches. Engaging your entire core -- abs, glutes, back and hips -- balance on the ball with both feet on the floor in front of you, hip-width apart. Keeping yourself and the ball stable, lift one foot several inches off the ground. Lower it back to the floor and repeat on the other side. The goal is to keep the core engaged and remain as motionless as possible. Repeat 10 to 15 times on each leg and complete two to three sets.
Return to the floor with the stability ball in front of you to perform stability ball leg curls, which target the hips, glutes and abs. Lie down with your ankles propped up on the ball, legs bent at a 90-degree angle and arms at your sides. Contract your core and lift your glutes off the ground. This will be your starting position. With your legs, roll the ball out until your legs are extended, keeping your glutes lifted and core tight. Curl the ball back to the starting position and repeat 10 to 15 times before lowering the glutes back to the floor.
Stand back up for single-leg squats, which not only work the hips and glutes, but also increase your overall stability and balance. Standing with your feet hip-width apart, extend your arms out in front of you and engage your core. Shift your weight to one leg and extend the other leg, lifting it about 2 feet off the ground. Maintaining your balance, slowly squat until the knee of your lifting leg is in line with your toe. Return to standing and, keeping your opposite leg elevated, repeat 10 to 15 times before switching legs. Aim for three sets.
- The key to correcting hip muscle imbalances is to focus on building your core. Take your time in each exercise and focus on maintaining good form, keeping your entire core engaged.
- Hip imbalances may need the treatment of a physical therapist. If you have pain or injuries that have resulted from weak hip muscles, contact your doctor. And always consult your physician before beginning a new exercise program.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.