5 of the Best Hip Mobility Exercises

Hip stiffness leads to many painful conditions in and around your hip.  In older adults, limited hip mobility is associated with hip arthritis, spinal stenosis, and knee arthritis.  In athletes, hip stiffness is linked with hip impingement, labral tears, groin pain, low back pain, and knee pain.  This article highlights 5 hip mobility exercises that will help you move with less pain.

Hip Joint Basics

Your hip joint is a large ball and socket joint similar to your shoulder.  Unlike your shoulder, your hip socket is much larger than the ball.  Therefore, less mobility is available at your hip in comparison to your shoulder.  In addition, further loss of hip motion is due to bony changes to the femur or pelvic bone.  This occurs with aging.  Also common, restrictions are due to muscle and joint capsule tightness.

Hip Mobility Exercises

Hip mobility exercises

Manual therapy soft tissue techniques and various forms of stretching will improve your hip mobility.  In order for lasting changes to occur, manual therapy is combined with self-mobilization exercise.  Self-mobilization exercises are performed in your home with minimal space or equipment.  The exercises which follow in this article are basic self-mobilization techniques that  easily you can easily perform in your home or local gym.

Prone Figure-4 Hip Self-Mobilization

The figure-4 self-mobilization is helpful if you have limited hip external rotation.  This is the right stretch for you if you experience difficulty putting on your shoes and socks.  It will also improve  your hip extension which can translate into improved walking or running ability.  When performing this exercise it is important to activate your abdominal muscles to avoid arching your low back.

Quadruped Hip Internal Rotation with Lateral Distraction

Limitations in hip internal rotation are characteristic of many hip problems.  Any sport that requires squatting, pivoting, planting and cutting require hip internal rotation.  By using a belt or band to distract your hip joint, greater hip internal rotation is available.  Be sure to place the band or belt deep into your groin to optimize the stretch.

Quadruped Rock Back with Hip Posterior Glide

Rock backs promote a posterior glide of your femur and stretch the back of your hip.  With this exercise we like to keep the hip flexion passive.  This is because passive motion alleviates the influence of your hip flexor muscles.  By using a belt or band to distract your hip joint, greater hip flexion is available.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Self-Mobilization

Limited hip extension flexibility is one possible cause of an increased anterior pelvic tilt and low back arching during walking or running.  This pattern stresses the structures of your low back and hip.  Combining this self-mobilization with abdominal strengthening exercises alleviates low back and hip pain.

Standing Posterior-Lateral Hip Self-Mobilization

Tightness in the back of your hip can lead to pain in the front of your hip or groin.  Stretching this region will help.  By using a belt or band to distract your hip joint, greater hip motion is available without pain.  If you do experience pain, adjust the height of the step or shift more weight onto your opposite leg.

Closing Thoughts on Hip Mobility Exercises

Hip mobility exercises are best performed after a dynamic warm-up.  Elevating your body temperature and activating your nervous system will lead to the best results.  Ideally, mobility exercises will result in a mild to moderate stretching sensation. Muscle re-education and strengthening exercises always follow once new range of motion has been gained.  Finally, it takes consistency and time to achieve lasting gains.  If you would like help from your physical therapist, give us a call.


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