Engage the Glutes, Loosen the Hips!
Tight hips and disengaged glutes are incredibly common in today's society because of our lifestyle of sitting down more than we're designed to.
The sitting down lifestyle that we're all forced to lead can cause huge problems for our mobility. Our hips start to tighten up and movement becomes much more difficult and in some cases painful.
Regardless of if you're trying to perfect your squat or just relieve some back or hip pain, these stretches and exercises will help you relieve your tight hips!
The Frog stretch will release tightness your adductors (inner thighs) caused by long periods of inactivity and lack of stretching. Stretching your inner thighs will allow you to keep your knees aligned whilst walking, running and exercising. When the knees collapse inwards there's a lot of stress which goes through the hinge joint. The longer we're moving around with the knees collapsing inwards, even slightly, the more potential damage can be caused in later life.
The deep lunge stretch will stretch the quads and hip flexors, counteracting the tightness in your hips caused by sitting for extended periods. Tight hip flexors can cause the pelvis to come out of alignment and into a forward tilt which can lead to back pain and problems in the squat.
The pigeon is a great stretch for your glutes and hamstrings to relieve back pain and improve general circulation to the hip area.
Now the hips are loose it's time to engage the glutes to promote proper movement. The glutes are the biggest muscle in the body and primarily assist us in walking upright and extending the hips. If we're not using the glutes effectively this can lead to instability in the knees and ankles as well as ultimately leading to injury through repetitive and mis-aligned movement.
The kick back is a simple yet effective exercise to target the main glute muscle known as the gluteus maximus. All you need to do is place a band around your ankles with feet hip width apart. Hinge forwards at the hips slightly, holding onto something in front for balance if necessary. Engage your glute muscle to kick your leg back, without arching your back. You should feel a tightening or pinching in your glute muscle before returning to the start position. Work on one side at a time performing a few sets of 10-20 reps on each side to help get your glutes fired up for a workout or after a long time in the car or at the desk.
Band clams are a very popular exercise, and for good reason. This exercise targets one of the smaller glute muscles, the gluteus medius, which assists with stabilising the knees and hips as well as abduction of the hip (moving the knee out to the side). Greater stability and control of the knees and hips will reduce the likelihood of misalignment and so reduce the risk of injury and movement problems.
Lie on your side with knees bent and hips bent and a band around your knees. Your feet should be resting on top of each of other. Squeeze your glute muscle to open up your knees whilst keeping your feet in contact and then gently return to the start position and repeat.
The glute bridge is another good hip extension exercise to target your glutes before a workout. Due to the one legged nature of this exercise, we're also working on the stability aspect of the glutes as well as firing up the core.
All you need to do is lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Bend one knee and place your ankle on your other knee. Squeeze your bum muscles to drive your hips up into the air, gently return to the start position and repeat for 10-20 reps.
These exercises can be completed as standalone warm up exercises/stretches or you can use them in a circuit style to get mobile before your workout. The most important aspect is staying consistent with your routine and making sure you take time to loosen off those tight areas and strengthen up those lagging areas!
If you need any more help with your mobility, muscle imbalances or any other problem you've encountered whilst training then drop us a line and we'll happily answer any questions you may have!