My Favorite 5 Hip Mobility Exercises
Nothing sucks more than trying to do your lower body exercises when your hips are creeky, cranky, and stiff. When we're looking to improve how well we squat or deadlift, or even just moving in general, we need to start our path with some simple hip mobility exercises.
Hips are meant to be mobile, just look at the anatomy of the hip, it's a ball and socket joint, meaning there should be free range of motion with very little restrictions. However, that's not always the case, sometimes due to how we sit, or how we lay in bed, or just life in general. We develop some complications and compensations.
Add in some hip mobility exercises into your program so that you'll move better, feel better, and avoid that stiffness before you do your lower body exercises. As far as programming them, include these in your warm-ups or as fillers in between your sets.
Assisted Hip Airplanes
Freestanding hip airplanes are challenging because balance or lack thereof becomes the sole focus. We ned up losing focus on the main intent of the exercise which is the hips.
Holding onto a rack eliminates that limiting factor, and allows us to work the hip through its full range of motion. The key to these is to minimize the movement at the back and move through that hip joint.
Modified Pigeon Rock
For some people, the standard pigeon stretch on the floor or on a bench can be too intense. It just hurts more than it allows us to relax into the stretch. This modified or quadruped pigeon rock takes away that intensity and puts it into a gentle hip stretch.
With the intensity dialed down a bit and the awkwardness of the pigeon stretch, we can focus on the hips getting lose and getting a good hip stretch. The key to this is to rock back just enough till you feel the stretch and then to come back out of it. Each time aiming to get a bit more into the stretch.
Aim for 5-10 rocks per side.
90/90 Hip Switches
These switches or shin boxes work well to loosen up your hips. We see that we move our hips through both internal and external rotation as we go side to side. The challenging part is staying upright as you do them.
If that is too much of a challenge, you can put your hands behind you and work through the same range of motion. Then as you get more proficient with it, you can bring the hands off the floor.
We want to open up as much as possible, working through that hip rotation. Even sitting in this position can be a stretch for some, and if that is the case, let's hold it and start there.
Yoga Block Internal Rotation
For most of the hip mobility exercises you'll see, the focus is on creating more external rotation, meaning opening up and pushing out. This makes sense when most of the cues you hear for squats and deadlifts are to push out or open up.
However, opening up or external rotation is not the only thing the hip joint is made to do. By focusing on one thing we're giving ourselves too much of a good thing. Some of us don't need more of that, we need to counteract it with more of the opposite movement, more internal rotation.
That's where we need this exercise. These may look like they don't do a lot due to the minimal movement and range of motion, but they are quite challenging. The key is to squeeze the block or even a foam roller, and move/rotate the leg out to the side without bending at the hips or the side.
Go as far as you can without that side bend compensation, and then bring the leg back to the start. I prefer doing one side at a time to focus on the movement rather than doing both.
Side-Lying Hip CARs
CARs or controlled articular rotations are basically where you try to move your joint through its biggest range of motion and explore those end ranges to keep our joints healthy. The key to this is to use tension to keep control and avoid compensations in other surrounding joints.
For example, with this hip CAR, we could likely show more range of motion, however, to do so, we’d likely be moving our lower back or shifting our pelvis. To get the most out of it, we need to explore how big we can make our circle while trying to push past those limits.