There is nothing basic about your hip joint. This complex part of your body includes several muscles, ligaments and tendons that help you tilt, bend, rotate and walk. All of these parts work together, so when one part gets tight, you are going to feel it in nearly every thing you do. Seek out relief through a variety of stretching exercises.
When it comes to stretching, both passive and active stretching are effective in increasing range of motion and flexibility in tight hip flexor muscles, according to a study published in Physical Therapy in 2004. In both active and passive stretches, you hold a muscle for an extended period. Anything from 15 to 45 seconds is effective, according to the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” in 2010. The difference between the two is that in active stretching, you keep the intended muscle extended with no other assistance than other muscles. In passive stretching, you hold the intended muscle with another part of your body, a partner or a fitness tool.
The bridge is a basic stretching exercise that targets your hips, buttock and abs. To do this move, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. You want your heels about 8 to 10 inches from your buttock. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Contract your abs and flatten your lower back against the floor as you lift your hips up off the floor. Press your weight into your heels and rise until you create a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Avoid pushing your hips too high; this can cause excessive arching in your lower back. Lower to the starting position and repeat.
The clam is a stretching exercise that targets your outer hip muscles. To do this move, lie on your side with your back against a wall. Bend your knees and stack your legs on top of each other. Adjust your hips and torso so they are perpendicular to the floor. With your core engaged, lift and rotate your top leg at the hip to bring your top knee closer to the wall. Stop before you feel your body rolling backward. Your feet should lightly touch each other throughout the move. Return to the starting position and repeat. Switch and repeat on your other side.
While a squat won’t help alleviate tight hips, it can serve as an indicator of muscular tightness. When you squat, pay attention to your form to see if you have tightness in your gluteus maximus or adductor magnus. Both of these muscles can cause tight hips. Perform a squat by lowering until your thighs are parallel with the ground. If you notice that your hips posteriorly rotate, meaning that your lower back rounds and your hips tuck under, at the bottom of your squat, then you may be suffering from tight hip muscles.
- Yoga Journal: Hips Too Tight?
- Physical Therapy: Passive Versus Active Stretching Of Hip Flexor Muscles In Subjects With Limited Hip Extension: A Randomized Clinical Trial
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Effect of 3 Different Active Stretch Durations On Hip Flexion Range Of Motion
- University of Bath: Types of Stretching
- American Council on Exercise: Glute Bridge
- University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center: Clam Shell Hip Strengthening
- ExRx.net: Deep Squat
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.