Updated: Jun 7
If you’ve been reading our blog long enough, you may have heard us break down the ever popular mobility into an equation. It looks like this:
Mobility = Strength + Flexibility.
Mobility is not only the ability to move into a motion, but to exert control in that motion. That’s the strength piece. And, if you’ve had the opportunity to work with me, you’ve also probably heard me say that when people are “tight,” they’re tight for a reason; our body is brilliant, and it’s not going to let you go into a range of motion you can’t control. So it’s going to stop you.
The best way to get more mobile or more flexible, is to get stronger throughout the range. That does not mean go and lift the heaviest you can at the end of your range of motion. What it means is that we can’t just send you to your edge of your range of motion, but that we need your muscles to be actively engaging there.
Why do we need hip mobility? The hip is a huge, key, foundational joint. It needs to be in good condition if we’re runners, if we’re squatting, power lifting, any acrobatic work, pole dancing; all of these rely on the strength and flexibility of our hips.
What happens if we don’t take care of our hips? Why aim for this mobility and strength? If our hips aren’t mobile and stable, they’ll start referring force to other parts of our body, including our knees and backs, creating injury, and potentially bigger healthcare bills. The best exercises are the ones that keep you active, and prevent injury down the line.
So, how do we start with improving our hip mobility?
I love the 90/90 because it takes our hip through the whole range of rotation, internal and external. If you feel stiff, try elevating yourself with a pillow under your sacrum to make it easier, and then progressively lower the height as you get more comfortable.
Our hip flexors, the psoas and iliacus, are often tight and short because of how much time we spend sitting with our hips flexed. And, if these muscles are tight, they can actually limit our rotational motion as well.
I like the kettlebell lunge and push because it adds that load, and it can easily be tensioned by shifting your hips further forward (by squeezing your glutes). The trick is to make sure you aren’t arching your back to get forward, as that will simply take the tension out of your psoas.
If you really want to make this a challenge, consider elevating your rear foot, similar to a bulgarian split squat; this will target your quads, and specifically the rectus femoris, a muscle that crosses the hip and knee, and can mimic tight hip flexors.
This is an oldie, but a goodie. Why? It’s so simple, right? Simple does not mean bad. The glute bridge is an amazing exercise that can teach you to coordinate your glutes and your core together, as well as your deep external rotators. All things we need.
The most common problem I see with glute bridges is that people aim way too high. They arch their back and shoot their hips to the sky. Unfortunately, this doesn’t particularly benefit the glutes or your core.
Deep Squat Hold, 5 minutes.
Want to get comfy in a position? Hang out there for awhile, to a tolerable level of discomfort. Especially with the deep squat, it’s important for the pelvis and the rotators of the hips to adjust to being in that deep angle of flexion.
If it’s too uncomfortable or unstable to hang out there, try a higher position, or utilize a bar in front to hold onto, which will reduce the amount of load on your tissues. Accommodation is the name of the game, and we need your body to get comfortable to being loaded in the deep squat. Starting with your bodyweight, or even less than, is a great way to start.
Our hips don’t only move forward and backwards, but sideways. The hip is a ball and socket joint, after all, and it behaves like one, so we need to strengthen all the way around the clock.
The cossack squat really challenges our adductors and our glutes, and our lateral stability. If it feels too challenging, try rolling out your adductors first before attempting. Really make sure you aren’t collapsing forward, as that takes a lot of the work out of your glutes. If you’re holding a weight, keep it relatively close to your chest, as that will help track your center of mass more directly under you, and reduce any load on your back.
Especially with the Cossack, make sure your toes aren’t turning out and pointing away from you, but stay pointing parallel. In the far leg, if you’re in the deep position, you can experiment with transitioning the weight to your heel, your toes pointing toward the ceiling, but be aware this is a more challenging position.
Ways to make it more challenging? Keep your hips low, and transition from one side to the other.
If you’ve mastered these positions, and still feel like you’ve got hip pain, discomfort, or clicking, give us a call to get scheduled so we can get to the root cause of your problem!