Make Sure Your Hips are in Check With These Easy Exercises

Posted On May 8, 2014 By Joel Harper

hip exercises

Want to improve your running times?

Do your hips feel tight?

Do you have lower back tension?

If you answered yes, let's get that fixed ASAP. This could be holding you back from improving your training times. Just like with food in your teeth, you want get rid of anything that doesn't belong by flossing regularly. You floss your muscles by s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g and getting rid of any tightness and tension. So, if you want to take your workouts to the next level, then simply give yourself 10 minutes and try these eight recommended exercises and stretches.

Hip tension is a common problem. There can be many causes, and it can be confusing to know what's causing the problem. It is important to figure out the underlying issue to what's causing your tightness so that you can treat it properly and effectively.

New clients come to me all the time with knee issues and back issues. In my experience, I have found that strengthening, opening and balancing out their hips immediately evaporates the cause and, in turn, the symptom.

In practicing the following positions, make sure you're relaxing into them, taking deep smooth breaths and never shaking or holding your breath. Always scan your body and find out where you are feeling tension, then melt into the position. Also, with all my clients, I work on a numbers scale, 1 meaning you don't feel it, and 10 meaning you really feel it. If you are doing a one-sided stretch, it is very important that your numbers match up on each side. If one side is a 4 and the other is a 7, repeat the 7 side until you are able to relax/melt it to a 4. All stretching should feel good, never force it. Think massaging your muscles from the inside out.

My goal is for you to strengthen and stretch every muscle from every angle.

Try these every other day; do these barefoot too.

HIP CIRCLES (opens and balances hips and makes you aware of tension areas). I make all my clients do these from the start and multiple times between sets to get the blood flowing. With feet perfectly together/lined up and your hands on your waist circle your hips 5 times in each direction. Resist moving your shoulders and try to make as big a circle as you can with your hands/hips. Look straight ahead and elongate your spin, as if there is a rope pulling from the top of your head.

QUAD SWAYS (strengthens your core and quadriceps and improves your balance) With your left palm flat on your stomach and your right hand on your lower back, bring your right knee up in front of you (ideally you want it at a right angle in line with your hip, otherwise go as high as you can). Let your ankle dangle down and sway your lower leg side to side 40x not moving your knee. For the more advanced pose, do it with your eyes closed. Focus on keeping a straight line from the top of your head to your supporting leg.

STANDING SIDE KICKS (Improves balance and strengthens hips) While standing, lift your right leg off the ground, bring it into a right angle, lift your knee to your side (as high as you can), and kick your leg straight at the highest point. Then bring it back and repeat 25x. Keep your knees in line throughout and do both sides twice.

HIPPIE (balances hips, stretches hamstrings hip and lower back) With your feet flat on the ground, slowly bend forward at your waist as low as it feels comfortable. Alternate bending one knee and keeping the other leg straight (but still keeping your feet flat) and let your head dangle down, releasing all your tension. Stretch each side for 15 seconds/5 deep inhales.

KNEE BOUNCE (Strengthens entire body, with emphasis on quads, great to strengthen your knees for running) Come onto all fours with your hands under shoulders and knees under hips. With slightly bent elbows and a straight line from the top of your head to your tailbone, lift your knees one inch off the ground and bounce them one inch up and down 100x. If you want to pump it up to the next level, float your feet off the ground and kick them in the air like a … donkey. Ideally, you would like your feet at 2 o'clock, but start with 1 inch in the air. Do 50x. Think floating, not pounding, and imagine you are jumping on a sheet of glass, and you don't want to break it.

LYING LEG DROPS (opens hips, lower back and chest) Great to do first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. Extend your legs and place your arms interwoven behind your head. Place the sole of your right foot just above your left knee and then lower your right knee toward the floor on the left side of your body. Hold it for 5 deep inhales and then switch sides. If you want to increase the stretch use, your opposite hand to knee and gently apply pressure to lower the leg to where it feels comfortable. Do each side 2x.

SIDE KICKS (strengthens hips and obliques) Come down onto your left side and relax your left ear on your arm. With your knees bent at a 135 degree angle and your heels in line with your spine, lift your right leg, flex your foot, and tap your knee lightly on the ground in front of you. Lift the leg back up, straighten it, and kick it in the air above your left foot. Do 50x, then switch sides and do 2 sets.

HAMMOCK STRETCH (Opens hips, lower back and hamstrings) This stretch is great after running. Sitting on the floor with your hands behind you, palms down, fingers pointing backward, and elbows slightly bent, then bring your feet up roughly 2 feet from your tailbone. Keeping your soles flat on the ground, cross your right leg up on top of your left leg. So now your right ankle is on your left quad just above your knee. Sit up straight. Focus on pressing your lower back towards your calf. If you want to go deeper, gently press your right knee away from you. Hold for 5 deep breaths and then switch sides. Remember to keep your elbows slightly bent, so you use your muscles and not your joints.

Need a quick cardio workout? Try this:

HORIZONTAL CIRCLES (Works entire body all at once, fantastic cardio) Come into an upper push-up position and place a towel underneath your feet on top of a smooth surface. Make sure your feet are on the sides of the towel, so now the towel is scrunched up between your feet. Make wide circles with your feet, each time bring your knees as far as you can forward. Keep your stomach taut and do 50x in each direction.