Tight hip flexors are common to many of us who sit at a desk all day, but for runners or cyclists it can be a real issue. With tight hips, you can feel restricted when striding along, and it can lead to other issues such as tendinitis, IT band problems or plantar fasciitis. It can reduce your power as you peddle and cause back pain.
There are a few easy exercises and stretches you can incorporate into your routine to loosen your hips.
Take a large step forward and slowly lower your back knee to the ground. In a stable position, with your upper body upright, push your hips forward. You should feel a stretch in your back leg’s hip. Put your hands up to add to the stretch when you begin to loosen up. Hold it for 30 seconds and repeat. You can also do this stretch without your knee on the ground, so the weight of your back leg is on the ball of your toes. This will increase the stretch and add other benefits such as balance.
Glute ball roll
Sit on the ground, place the soles of your feet on the ground with your knees bent. You will probably have to place your hands behind you for balance. Lift one leg and cross it over the other, so the ankle is pressed against the other leg’s thigh, just above the knee. You may already feel a stretch where your hips and lower back meet. Place a ball or foam roller under your glutes and roll it around until you find a tight spot.
When you find a spot, it may be very sore. Depending on your pain threshold and tightness, adjust the ball so it is more or less solid – use a hard lacrosse ball or a soft tennis ball for example. You can also sit on the ball without crossing the leg for less tension. The perfect spot to release the hips is near the top of the glute – the piriformis muscle. It may take a few sessions, but once this spot is relaxed it will make a world of difference to your hip tightness and even lower back pain.
Start in the press up position. Lift one leg and plant your foot next to the outside your hand. You can hold this position. If you are feeling flexible, slowly move down off your hands and on to your elbow and hold for 30 seconds. You can also press your elbow into your knee, and push back with your leg for extra activation. If you are finding it tough, drop your back knee to the ground for balance.
Your hips might be tight because they are weak compared to the rest of your leg. There are a few exercises to strength your hips.
Walking weighted lunges are an easy one to start.
Single leg Romanian dead lifts, where you lean forward from your hips and lift one leg up behind you so your torso and back leg are parallel to the ground, then move back into the standing position. It will also help hip strength.
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