The hip joint is fundamental in allowing human movement, as well as many of the exercises you perform in the gym. Can’t get down into a deep squat? It could be your tight hip. Not able to round-house kick your trainer in the head when the get you on the sled? It’s probably your hip stopping you.
Sitting at desks, travelling by bus, train or car to work, or not getting on the dance floor often enough can lead to stiff, restricted hips. This is often a root cause for a large proportion of back pain as well. For example, sciatica, which can be caused by the piriformis (a short muscle responsible for external rotation of the hip) that can impinge on the sciatic nerve.
Like the shoulder joint as discussed in my previous article, the hip joint in a ball and socket joint and should allow a large pain-free range of motion. In order to achieve this, and break through the restrictions accumulated, movement is key. Controlled Articular Rotations performed every day, either as a morning routine, or as a dynamic warmup before exercise. These drills are to be performed at the outer reaches of your range so make sure you are moving as far as possible.
- Fire Hydrant Rotation
Starting on your hands and knees in a quadruped position. Keep your back straight and flat throughout the drill. Bring one knee up as close to your chest as possible so your weight is distributed over three points (both hands and one knee).
Keeping your knees bent throughout, push your raised knee out to the side as high as possible attempting to get your thigh parallel with the ground while sticking out away from your body. You may notice this resembles a dog having a wee, hence the name of this drill!
Continuing the rotation so your knee is behind you, rotate your leg so your foot is straight up in the air. Really push your foot up high, especially if you are using this as a warm up drill. Gets those all-important glutes firing before you start lifting.
Lower your leg down into your starting position. Repeat the articulation a couple times, then reverse the direction, beginning the movement by pushing your leg back and up as high as possible.
- 90-90 Drill (Dr. Andreo Spina – https://www.onnit.com/academy/increase-hip-mobility/)
This is quite an advanced drill, as you can see I have some work to do, but I encourage you to give it a go. If you can do it well, come find me in the gym and show me how it’s done properly!
Sit down in the 90-90 position, lead leg directly in front of you with knee bent to 90 degrees. Your trail leg should be out to your side creating another right angle at your hip, with the knee also bent to 90 degrees so the sole of your trail leg is facing backwards.
This position is a good test on how much hip mobility work you need to do. If you can’t get both knees on the floor and sit in this position comfortably, you are in the right place!
Firstly, lean forward over your lead leg while keeping a high chest feeling a deep stretch in the hip. Hold here for a few seconds. Ease out of the position and turn to face your trail leg, you may need to put your arms back to support this position. If you experience any pinching pain in this position, please see a professional physical therapist to make sure there is nothing wrong.
From this position, keeping your weight on your trail leg, rotate the hip, raising your knee up into the air while pivoting on the ball of your foot. Keep your lead leg down as long as possible, opening up your hips as much as possible. Your lead leg should soon lift into a wide seated position. In this wide position, hold briefly, really engaging your glutes pulling your knees apart and pushing your hip mobility.
Continue the rotation, turning to your once trail leg until your feel their roles swap, your trail leg now becomes your lead leg and your lead leg now your trail leg, you should gently fall into the 90-90 position facing in the opposite direction.
Perform these two drills DAILY either as a morning ritual or as a dynamic warmup before exercise. They will feel uncomfortable, maybe even a little painful, but pain does not always mean you should stop. If you experience a sharp pinching feeling then you should STOP, and consult Christina, Beth or your own physical therapist.
Better Body Exercise Prescription