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The Best Exercise for Increasing Hip Flexibility and Preventing Arthritis

Many people are of the opinion that they have "tight hips." But, do you know just how it might hurt you to be limited in your hip flexibility? Well, if you're suffering from any of the following conditions, you'll really want to know if your hips are limited and what you can do about it:

Common Injuries Associated With Limited Hip Rotational Flexibility:

  • Low Back Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Upper Back Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Sacro-Iliac Joint Disorder
  • Herniated Spinal Discs
  • Hip Arthritis
  • Meniscus Knee Tears
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Rotator Cuff Tears
  • And More

Get the picture!?!?! Hip rotational flexibility is one of the most important ranges of motion we have. Every single step we take requires some hip rotation. If your hips are too tight and we can't rotate them properly, guess what we'll do? We rotate our pelvis and sacroiliac joints excessively (even though it doesn't hurt... at first). Over time, we'll beat up on the area and expose ourselves to one of the injuries listed above.

We commonly see this in:

  • Golfers
  • Runners
  • People that have difficulty squatting low (Crossfit, Hard Exercise Works, Bootcamps, etc)
  • Powerlifters
  • If you notice your toes and feet turn outwards when you walk
  • Pilates and Yoga students that can rotate to one direction, but not the other
  • Etc.

So one of my favorite ways to successfully address this in the sports medicine clinic, after mobilizing the hips with chiropractic and manual therapies, is this exercise:

The 90/90 Hip Progressions

The rule of thumb for this exercise is you'll want to hold the movement for 30-40 seconds. Your job isn't to stretch and get more flexible the way one would typically think of during stretching. Instead, hold the position for 30-40 seconds and concentrate on staying tall through the spine, breathing comfortably through the belly, and allowing your leg muscles to "melt" into the floor. They should be very relaxed, not pushing and straining.

External Rotator Emphasis

The first component of this exercise reminds people of "The Pigeon" pose in Yoga. That's because both this exercise and the pigeon address the external rotators of your hips and glute muscles. It's really the easier of the two. For a bonus, to increase core activation hold a kettlebell or dumbbell to your chest while performing it. The extra core activation should help you to release and lengthen your hip and leg muscles more.

Internal Rotator Emphasis

The first thing to note... this is not easy. You're probably going to feel an uncomfortable sensation in your back hip. Don't worry it should be fine. Follow the steps outlined in the video of:

  1. With arms at your side
  2. With arms crossed over the chest
  3. Internal leg lifts
  4. Hip circumductions

If you can get to the point where you're performing 5-8 reps of the internal leg lifts and circumductions, then you're doing pretty good. Next, you'll want to add your body weight to the situation. You can follow it up with a "chop and lift" exercise, outlined here:

Next Level Integration Exercise

Now that we're addressing the rotational flexibility of your hip, we'll have much better movement through the hips, and much better stability, balance, and control through the core and pelvis which will help you avoid injury. As always, if you feel pain during this exercise or during any movement, contact your local sports medicine professional.

Good luck! Please leave a comment below to let me know if this article is helpful for you.

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