Maintaining hip mobility is crucial for the health of your knees and lower back. If your hips are unable to move freely, other parts of your body -- especially your lower back and knees -- may be forced to compensate, creating the potential for injury. You can incorporate hip mobility exercises into your warmup before you exercise. A well-rounded program will address all three planes of motion by including forward-backward, side-to-side and rotational movements.
Lateral lunges focus on side-to-side mobility in the hips. Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and parallel. Step your right foot out in a wide stance, keeping your feet pointing forward. Bend your right knee and shift your hips back. Your right shin should be vertical, with your knee aligned with your second toe. Don't allow your knee to fall in. Keep your chest lifted, reaching your arms forward if necessary to maintain your balance. Push off with your right foot to return to the starting position. Repeat to the left side.
Forward lunges incorporate front-back movement. Starting from a standing position, step your right foot forward. Shift your weight forward and bend your right knee until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Slowly bend your left knee until it almost touches the floor. Keep your torso upright and do not allow it to shift from side to side. Push off with your right foot to return the starting position. Repeat, stepping your left leg forward.
Standing Hip Pendulum
The standing hip pendulum focuses on hip rotation. From a standing position, lift your right knee in front of you. If necessary, place your left hand on a stable support to maintain your balance. Your right knee and hip should be bent 90 degrees. Keep your torso upright. Without shifting the position of your right thigh, swing your lower leg from side to side like a pendulum. Open your right leg out to the right and repeat the same exercise. Return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg.
Leg swings include side-to-side and rotational movement. Stand facing a wall or other support. Lean forward and place your hands on the wall for balance. Lift your right leg in front of you. Swing the right leg from side to side, pointing your toes up as you swing to each side. To avoid stress to your lower back, strength coach Nick Tumminello on his Performance University website recommends lifting your left hand from your support as you swing the leg to the left, allowing your shoulders to turn to the left. Replace the hand as you swing the leg back to the right. After several swings with the right leg, switch to the left leg.
Joe Miller started writing professionally in 1991. He specializes in writing about health and fitness and has written for "Fit Yoga" magazine and the New York Times City Room blog. He holds a master's degree in applied physiology from Columbia University, Teacher's College.