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Great Hip Mobility Exercises

Great Hip Mobility Exercises

The hip joints are at the center of your body and the main power source for your ability to perform pretty much every daily movement. You need to build strong hip muscles with a decent range of motion for optimal athletic performance when running, kicking, and jumping, but also for the simple everyday functions of your body, like bending to pick something up or sitting down in a chair.

Poor hip mobility limits the amount of power and strength you can put into any movement - you can't run as fast if tight hip flexors are shortening your stride, and you cannot explode into a big jump if you are unable to wind up with a deep squat. Tight hips can also cause athletes to lift weights with improper form, leading to extra strain on the back and potential for injury.

With such a wide range of tasks relying on good hip mobility, it should be a non-negotiable when it comes to including hip exercises in your training regimen.

And if you spend a lot of time sitting in a chair at work, your hip flexors are likely way tighter than they should be.

Learn more about hip mobility, why you need it, and how to increase or maintain the flexibility and strength through the use of hip flexibility exercises.

What is hip mobility?

Hip mobility is hip flexibility - the terms are synonymous. It refers to the usable range of motion in a given area of your body.

Your hip joint is a 'ball and socket' joint, and it is the most powerful joint in your entire body. The hip joint is complex; it contains more than 15 muscles that all work together to give your hips their full range of motion.

The hip socket range of motion includes all of the following types of movement:

  • Extension - lifting the leg forward in front of your body
  • Flexion - lifting the leg backward behind your body
  • Abduction - lifting the leg out to the side away from the body
  • Adduction - lifting the leg toward or across the body
  • Rotation - internally or externally rotating the hip within the socket

For truly good hip mobility you want your hips to be well-rounded and able to perform all of these movements with ease.

Why is hip mobility important?

Tight hips can create compensatory patterns, which means they can cause a chain reaction to other parts of your body as it tries to compensate for your lack of hip flexibility.

Imagine injuring your foot and needing to use crutches to get around. You take the pressure completely off of your injured foot and leg, but the standing/walking pressure needs to go elsewhere. The extra pressure gets placed on your other foot and upper body as you use the crutches. Your other leg and arms may start to hurt, even though they aren't injured. If your body compensates for a weak area for too long, the extra pressure can wear down other joints, ligaments, and muscles over time and lead to injury.

Tight hip muscles also won't allow your body to produce the same amount of force or absorb the impact of that force well.

By improving hip mobility you will decrease the strain on your knees and low back, which helps to prevent future injury to these areas. Walking and running gait will be improved and it will be easier to perform most daily tasks.

What causes a lack of hip mobility?

Since hip mobility is so complex, there can be a number of factors that affect it.

If you're sitting all day in a desk job, your hips are bent at 90° for long periods of time. Our bodies are naturally meant to move all day long but our lifestyle often doesn't fall in line with what is most natural for us.

During running and cycling, our hips stay flexed and become used to a partial range of motion, which can tighten up other areas of the hips.

One factor is a weakness in hip stabilizers, which are the muscles that surround the hips like the glutes, hamstrings, external rotators, and flexors. This can make your hips feel tight, even if your mobility is decent.

Another factor is decreased stability of the lumbar spine, or a pelvic tilt that tightens hip flexors and lumbar extensors.

How long does it take to improve hip mobility?

Luckily, when you start working on your flexibility you will see results rather quickly.

After one good stretching session you will feel some immediate relief and looseness to your hips.

For long term effects, you will start to feel the difference in 2 - 4 weeks if you regularly practice 5 days a week. It really is a matter of getting what you put into it back out - if you perform mobility exercises for hips even more often, you will get even better results. Less often = less results.

How to Increase Hip Mobility

In order to improve your hip tightness, you will need to perform hip mobility workouts and stretches regularly. Try doing these a few times a week, and increase the frequency or difficulty as time goes on.

The exercises we will show you here use resistance bands for pull-ups. This just goes to show exactly how versatile a good set of pull up assist bands can be!

Hip Mobility Band Exercises and Stretches

Here are 4 exercises designed to use a resistance band to build up your hip mobility and strength.

  • Perform these exercises 2-3 times per week. Start with 15 repetitions of each exercise on each leg and increase as strength and mobility improves.
  • Upgrade to a heavier band for extra resistance if the stretches start to feel too easy.

Knee Hug with Resistance Band

  1. Wrap a resistance band at floor level around a support beam and loop it through itself to secure the band.
  2. Lie on your back, with your feet facing the pole. Place your left leg through the loop and pull it up to the very top of your thigh. Bend your right knee and place your right foot flat on the ground.
  3. The band should tight but not stretched in the starting position. Adjust to move further away from the pole if it is too loose, and closer if it is too tight.
  4. Lift your left knee toward your chest and hug it in with both arms. You should pull until you feel an uncomfortable stretch of your muscles, but not pain. Keep the knee in line with the hip.
  5. Switch to the opposite knee and repeat.

 

Lunge Stretch with Band

  1. Wrap a resistance band at floor level around a support beam and loop it through itself to secure the band to the beam.
  2. Get into a kneeling position. Put your left leg through the loop of the band. Place your right foot on the floor in front of you, forming a lunge position with a 90 degree angle in both knees.
  3. Bend forward toward your front leg, with the left hip and thigh extending forward. Ensure that your right knee does not bend further than your right toes to avoid knee injury. If you need to adjust the right foot slightly forward, do so.
  4. Return to starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.

 

Pigeon Stretch with Band

  1. Wrap a resistance band at floor level around a support beam and loop it through itself to secure the band.
  2. Get into a kneeling position. Place your left leg through the loop and spin sideways, so that your right side is closest to the beam.
  3. While kneeling, bring your left leg in front of your body. Your left foot will be in line with your knee and perpendicular to the body. Straighten your right leg out directly behind you.
  4. Bend your upper body forward and lean down on your elbows.
  5. Rock your hips gently out to the left side until you feel a stretch. Rock back and forth between these 2 positions.
  6. Return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat with your other leg.

 

Hip Stretch with Kettle Bell

  1. Sit on your bum on the ground. Place your left leg bent in front of you at 90°, foot facing toward the right side. Bend your right leg to 90°, with the foot facing behind you. Your left foot should be touching (or close to touching) your right knee.
  2. Grab a kettle bell in both hands. Face forward with straight posture.
  3. Lean forward slightly with the kettle bell at chest level. Return to starting position. Lean back slowly. Return to starting position.

Final Word

Now that you've learned how to stretch hips properly, we hope you use these exercises regularly to improve your athletic performance or simply move through your day to day life a little more smoothly.

Resistance bands are also a great way to add some extra difficulty to classic exercises and support your body during the stretching portions. So, grab a hip band or pull up assist and start working out those legs!

Katherine Holden

Katherine Holden

Katherine is a CrossFit expert with humble origins. Starting out on a ranch, ever since she was nine, she spent most of her life roping and competing in team roping. After finding bodyweight exercises interesting she sought after a career in CrossFit and dedicated her life towards achieving the body of her dreams. Today Katherine is a personal trainer that loves to travel the world and change the lives of her clients.

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