The hips is a very important joint, I doubt anyone would argue with that, but unfortunately many of us are using them in a way that is very ineffective and results in a variety of aches pains.
Constant sitting and absent minded moving means generally we tend to hold our pelvis is a position that isn’t ideal; and this is very clearly part of why so many of us have pain in the low back, between the shoulder blades or in the neck.
I will go into the movement of the hip in more detail in another post but today I’m going to show you stretches that you can use to cover every muscle that works around the hip. All of these muscles get tight for various reasons and are tight in the vast majority of people.
This tightness in itself may not be sore or especially problematic but all of these muscles affect the way your pelvis moves and as a result it can drastically affect the way your spine curves which in turn forces you’re shoulders and neck to behave in a manner that builds muscle tension and pain through the upper back and shoulders.
So stretching the muscles around your hip will not only help maintain or improve the flexibility of the hips it can be beneficial for your whole body.
The stretches below are set out in progressions of difficulty for each muscle group, give them a try and find which one suits you at the moment, you might be able to get into position for the more advanced stretches but find that you feel a better stretch in the position that come before that.
In which case its better to work in the ‘easier’ position most.
When I’m doing a more focused stretch session I will go through several progressions to prepare for the harder positions and when I’m stretching at the end of the session or just randomly stretching I tend to stick to the simple ones.
The Hamstrings is the group of muscle along the back of your thigh, these are often blamed for not being able to hip hinge effectively and the low back curving as a result.
When you leaning forward if your low back rounds out it will be holding the vast majority of the weight of your upper body and whatever your picking up or moving.
If you hinge effectively at the hips and keep the low back flat the muscles of the legs will be holding a greater portion of the weight.
The Quads is the group of muscles on the front of your thigh. One of the larger muscles in the group is also counted in the hip flexor group of muscles because it connects the front of your pelvis to the top of your shin.
Stretching the quads will reduce tension over the front of the knee and I’ve known a lot of people to alleviate aches over the kneecap by stretching their quads regularly.
Stretches the quads effectively will also help reduce the tightness of the hip flexor, which are often causing peoples low back pain.
The Glutes are the muscles that make up your bum. There’s a deeper group of muscle below them that will also be helped by going through these stretches.
If you’ve got tight glutes they can resist the hips freedom of movement in several directions from your hip.
Tension through the glutes will also directly contribute to low back pain and will also be transferred along the side of the leg via the ITB and can cause clicking and pain on the side of the knee.
For the side bending stretch I say glute medius in the video but that stretch is for glute minimus.
The Hip Flexors do exactly what it says on the tin. There are four hip flexors, one connects to the lumbar (lower part of the) spine and then to the thigh bone, another goes from inside the the back of the pelvis to the thigh and the other two go from the front of the pelvis and cross the knee.
We all sit down a lot these days, so our hips spend a lot of time flexed. Knees out at the front with a right angle between the front of the belly and the top of the thigh. As a result these muscle are all very short.
So when people with tight hip flexors stand up their thighs will get to the upright position but their pelvis wont, it’ll stay tipped forward.
This is known as anterior pelvic tilt and as a result the lower back doesn’t reach its neutral upright position its forced further forward than usual so to get the rest of your upper body feeling upright it has to curve more than it should.
This results in the rest of the spine over curving and that is a massive cause for tightness and pain further up the body.
The Groin is the group of muscles along the inside thigh, these are also known as the adductors.
Out of this group it seems to be the longest one, which is the only one to cross the knee, seems to be the most problematic but that’s not to say the others are always brilliant.
Tension through this group of muscles can cause pain on the inside of the knee and at the connection points along the lowest parts of the pelvis between your legs.