Mobility and flexibility are important for the entire body. But, in this post we explain the significance of maintaining flexibility in a specific part of the body- the hips. Many people nowadays spend a lot of time sitting at their desks, and sitting for a long period on a daily basis can result in tight hips and impaired mobility.
DANGERS OF TIGHT HIPS
Poor Balance and Posture – Given that the hip flexor is the critical stabilizer of the pelvis, weakened hip flexors impair balance and cause poor posture.
Back Pain – Overstretched glutes and hip extensors as well as tight hip flexors, cause the pelvis to get pulled out of place, in an unnatural manner. This eventually starts the pulls at the muscles in the lower back, which causes back pain. Back pain is one of the most common complaints for people with tight hips.
Muscle Imbalances – Sitting for hours daily tightens the front of the hips and the hip flexors. While sitting, the back of the hips, glutes and hip extensors is are being overstretched. The problem is that they are also being significantly weakened due to lack of use of each of the muscle groups.
Stretching out the hips on a daily basis helps counteract the effects of long sitting. Besides, it increases mobility in the hips as well as your strength and stamina in your workouts.
Since yoga offers many hip-opening poses, it is one of the best ways to gain flexibility in the hips. At the same time, these hip openers are some of the best and most frequently used poses in many yoga classes.
1. Thread the Needle Pose
Lay on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Cross your RIGHT ankle over your LEFT knee as if making a figure “4”. Keeping your hips grounded and your lower back pressing into the mat, pull the LEFT knee in towards the chest, threading your RIGHT hand between your legs.
Clasp your hands underneath your LEFT knee to help pull the knee deeper into the stretch. Focus on keeping the RIGHT knee open to really stretch the hip. Breathe deeply and hold for at least 30 seconds on each side.
2. Happy Baby Pose
Pull your knees towards your upper body while laying on your back. Place your hands on the inner arches of your feet and start opening the knees slightly wider than your torso. Your lower back should press the mat as much as possible, while you are pressing your feet into your hands and pulling the hands down to make a resistance. Take deep breaths while in this position. Stay here for at least half a minute.
3. Butterfly Pose
Sit on the mat with the knees bend and the hands placed by your side on the mat. Bring the soles of the feet together to allow the knees to open out to the side. Open the knees using the leg muscles and bring the as close to the floor as possible.
The stretch should be felt in the inner thighs. Pull the feet close in toward you in order to deepen the stretch. Instead of pulling the feet closer, you can fold forward and walk the hands out in front of you. Hold for half a minute.
4. Frog Pose
This pose is pretty intense, so make sure you don’t suffer any injuries in your knees or ankles. To get into the pose, get on all fours, with hands under your shoulders and your knees on your mat, or even blankets for more padding.
Slowly and gently, widen your knees until you feel a comfortable stretch in your inner thighs. Be sure to keep your ankles in line with your knees, and your feet and calves grounded the entire time. If you’re able to, lower down to your forearms. Hold for at least 30 seconds.
5. Half Pigeon Pose
Begin this position in a runner’s lunge. Your right foot should be in front of you and both hands placed on either side of that foot. Let the right knee fall down to the outer side, and drop your back knee supporting on your fingertips. Press into the toes, and then rock the knee back a little bit. The outer part of your calf should be grounded parallel to the front of the mat. But, if you are new to this pose, tuck the front heel in towards the groin a little bit. Keep the front toes flexing to prevent harming your knee.
The hips should be back towards square, and then you can walk your fingertips forward any amount. You can lower down to your forearms, or even lay over the front leg if you want a deeper stretch. The stretch shouldn’t be felt in the glute and on the outside of the right hip. Stay here for half a minute, and then do the same thing on the opposite side. (If you feel uncomfortable or even painful in this pose, stick with Thread the Needle.)
6. Double Pigeon Pose
Sit on the floor with crossed legs so that the left leg is crossed in front. Move to the pose using your arms, grab your left ankle and pull it carefully to place it over the right knee. Stack your shins with the left leg on top. Your right knee might be raised a bit from floor if your hips are really tight, but as you open your hips more, the knee will gradually lower. For a deeper stretch, walk your hands slightly forward. Stay here for at least half a minute, and then do the same thing with the other side.
7. Low Lunge
Start in a runner’s lunge with your RIGHT foot forward and your hands on the mat on either side of your front foot. Lower your back knee and shin to the floor and carefully lift your chest and your arms up, resting your hands on your front thigh.
Be sure to keep the abdominals engaged and don’t allow the back to arch (it will take away from the stretch). To increase the stretch, reach the arms overhead, and very slightly lean forward, again making sure to not to arch the lower back. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
8. Crescent Lunge
Again, begin in the runner`s lunge, keeping the knee lifted. Bring the hands off the mat and then bring them to the front thigh. Square the hips to the mat while allowing the hips to sink lower.
Then, reach the arms up and over the head while engaging the abdominal muscles. To deepen the stretch, lengthen through the back leg and persistently sink and square off the hips. Hold for 30 seconds on both sides, respectively.