Perhaps second only to shoulder rotator cuff issues, persistent pain and stiffness at the hip joints is one of the most common non-spinal complaints we treat in the clinic. Patients often describe stubbornly tight and painful hips that don’t respond to standard hip stretches. Due to the inherently stable nature of the ball-and-socket joint, months of intense ‘static stretching’ will often provide little benefit, and instead exercises that improve correct muscle contraction and movement patterns are the key to improving functional hip range of motion.
There are many underlying conditions that can account for poor mobility and flexibility, but for the majority of people, a program of home exercises in conjunction with your chiropractic treatment, can go a long way towards improving your hip range of motion, strength and overall function.
As always, it is advisable to first see your health practitioner before commencing any exercises described in these blogs. Some conditions can be aggravated with certain exercises, especially if performed incorrectly.
1. Reverse Active Straight Leg Raise
This exercise is fantastic for improving hip flexion in combination with hamstring flexibility, which is important for correct hip biomechanics. Start by lying flat on your back with both legs elevated at 90 degrees. Be sure to activate your core muscles, ensuring your lower back stays flat against the floor. With a resistance band or rope around one leg, slowly lower the opposite leg down to ground level. Alternate between both legs, aiming to perform 2 x 10 reps.
2. Single Leg Hip Lift
This exercise is another that is excellent for those with tight hip flexors, and again combines flexibility with strengthening, to improve mobility. Start by lying on your back, with one hip pulled tight up against your chest. The knee is bent 90 degrees with the foot flat on the floor. Next, lift your hips up as high as possible, without arching the lower back. You should feel your glutes (buttock muscles) activating with this movement. Hold the position for 5 seconds, alternating between legs to do 2 x 10 reps.
3. The Psoas March
This is a great exercise to improve lumbopelvic control and hip flexibility. Lying on your back, raise both your legs with your hips and knees both bent at a 90/90 position. Be sure to keep your lower back flat against the ground by activating your core muscles. Slowly kick one leg out straight, whilst keeping your other leg stationary, and maintaining your lower back position. You can alternate from leg to leg, aiming to complete 2 x 10 reps. As you progress, you can add resistance band between both your feet to increase difficulty.