Updated: Oct 19, 2021
We all struggle with tight hips, whether that is from a lifestyle dominated by sitting for long periods of time or from a heavy day or week in the gym.
When doing the movements below, you can implement tools such as contract - relax ( building tension actively in the whole body or specific area for 5-10 seconds then relaxing with the intention of finding more space for 10-30 seconds repetitively) along with breath work (focus on nasal breathing and use your exhales to find more space activating a parasympathetic response).
We always want to have some form of intention when stretching, it's not as simple as putting yourself in a position and waiting for the magic to happen. There are four types of flexibility including, Active dynamic, active static, passive dynamic and passive static. Active means we are using strength or muscle contraction to be in a position or whilst moving, where as passive means we are not using strength or contraction to be in a position. These movements below primarily focus on static active & static passive but you will also find dynamic active work here too. Dynamic means there is movement at the joint or joints and static means there is not. Take my coaching points in to consideration so you can get the most from each hip opener.
1️⃣ Saddle Stretch
Use a support such as a med ball. Tuck your bum under and press your hips up. Over time you can work your body closer to the ground but you must maintain an active posterior chain. A great way to open up the hips into extension and release tight quads.
2️⃣ Active Kneeling Lunge & Lizard lunge
Start in a half-kneeling lunge position. Tuck your bum under and press your hip forward at the same time as pulling your front heel back towards you (without it moving). You can stay here or work your way down into a deep lizard lunge with or without the back knee on the floor. Blocks can be a great assist here if you cannot reach the floor or want to bridge the gap from hands to forearms down inside the leg.
3️⃣ Elevated Pancake
First, you must learn to hip hinge. You can practice this standing in a wide leg position, then move to a box, a Yoga and finally the floor (Do not rush this process). Spend a couple of minutes in this wide leg position aiming to find some range. Contract the quads to help the hamstrings relax more and use your hip flexor strength to pull yourself in to it. Once you have done so, move in and out with some good mornings, aiming for around 3 sets of 10-20 reps and a 3-5 second pause in the end range of each rep.
4️⃣ Frog & Single-Leg Frog Stretch
You can place cushions, ab mats, or roll up the edges of your mat to make it softer for your knees. Try the full frog as well as the single-leg variation to work more into the adductors or even add in hip axial rotations. You can also try squeezing your legs in to the ground like you are trying to scissor them shut and feel the inner thighs fire up. Hold this for 5-10 seconds followed by relaxing in to a deeper range if possible. Make sure your knees are inline with your hips and the inner edges of your feet are on the ground in line with your knees. Avoid overly tilting your pelvis forward, instead draw the lower ribs in and down.
5️⃣ Elevated Active Pigeon & Good Mornings
Work to actively engaging the front hip by pressing it down into the platform. Spend a couple of minutes each side to find some range first followed by some good mornings. Hinge at your hips and move in and out, pressing the front hip down each time you come back up. Over time you can lower the platform until you only need a yoga block or are able to do pigeon on the floor.
Complete 2 minutes per side followed by 3 sets of 10-20 good mornings. When performing the good mornings, think about pushing your bum/ hips back as you draw your belly button towards the front leg without rounding your spine.
If you get any knee pain you must stop immediately.
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I hope you found this useful for a hip recovery day. Feel free to leave comments and questions or share this with anyone you know it might help.