Why Are My Hips So Tight?
...And What Can I Do About It?
I’m not sure that I’ve met anyone who hasn’t complained of tight and sore hips. For those who have complained, active repetitive squats, running and cycling cause us to continually flex our hips over and over. Ironically this is the very same action for anyone who sits for long periods of time. The difference is the long-held flexion vs. the opening and closing of the hip joint. In the end they both lead to the same feeling of tightness and when experienced for long enough, tight lower backs or even achy knees as well.
The solution will be similar for both parties and when performed daily will also greatly improve how we feel.
Stretch: Lunges are key here. Placing one leg forward, ankle positioned under the knee with your foot flat. Your back leg is extended behind with either your leg straight or knee bent on the floor. (you may want to add cushioning) Before sinking into the lunge, be sure you squeeze into your buttocks. This will keep your pelvis neutral and also encourage the opening through the front of the hip. You can move in and out of the stretch gently, and when holding the stretch, effort should be closer to 50-60% as pushing into the stretch too forcefully can cause more harm than good.
Walk: When we walk we use the hip in a different way and actually encourage the extension of the hip joint vs. the flexion we experience by cycling or sitting. When you walk, try to alternately squeeze your buttocks. It will probably feel (and look) a bit funny but will give you a pretty good indication of how tight your hips are and how you compensate in either walking or running. If you have a desk job, make sure you are taking a long walk at some point in the day to offset your seated posture. Walking for even 5 minutes after a heavy workout or even after a yoga class involving lots of hip openers, can help encourage good healthy blood flow.
Rest: Constructive rest position has you lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Walk your feet slightly forward so that your knees are at about a 45-degree angle and then stay here for 10 minutes. At first it may feel a bit strange, like your weight is more on one side or the other, or maybe a lack of grounding through the feet. However, with time you will begin to feel your pelvis come back into a neutral space and your weight will feel more even. This pose is very therapeutic; the hardest part about it is being still.
Lisa Greenbaum, based in Toronto is a certified Yoga Therapist with a passion for fitness and movement. She leads workshops and retreats around the world. www.lisagreenbaum.com