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Working one set of muscles while not the opposite can create muscle imbalances that over time lead to joint dysfunction, pain and injury. Our hips, glutes and hamstrings are often tight as a result of improper training (leading to muscle imbalance) or a sedentary lifestyle.

 

 

The dynamic stretches listed below are usually performed as warm-ups to loosen these muscles. I encourage you to perform these before beginning any workout.

It is easy to turn these stretches into exercises once you address any issues with the hip, glute and hamstring muscles. These variations are also described below.

I often include these exercise variations towards the end of my weight training sessions (What’s in a workout?) to provide a little variety and to give myself a bit of a break from the use of heavy weights.

WALKING HIGH KICKS

Walking High Kicks
Stand tall with arms and hands by your side.
Like a tin soldier, keep your knee straight and raise your right leg to meet your  raised left arm while walking forward.  You can also perform this exercise while staying stationary.
Repeat with other side, left leg and right arm.
Remain tall (avoid leaning) throughout movement. Keep shoulders retracted and depressed (pulled back and down).
In addition to loosening the hips, glutes and hamstrings this stretch also works your core and improves hip mobility and balance.
Exercise Variation: In a slow and controlled manner and slightly flexed knee, raise right leg and then left leg up and over a chair or a vertical standing foam roller. Perform as many reps as possible.

FORWARD AND BACK LEG SWINGS

Forward and Back Leg Swings
Stand tall while holding onto a stationary bar (ballet barre), sturdy chair or any sturdy object.
With abs contracted and with right knee slightly flexed, swing right leg up as far as possible. Swing right leg back as far as possible. Do as many reps as possible.
Repeat on other side.
Exercise Variation: Place a loop band around ankles to add some resistance. With abs contracted and with right knee slightly flexed, bring right leg up, in a slow and controlled movement, as far as possible. Bring right leg back as far as possible in a slow and controlled movement.  Perform as many reps as possible.
Repeat on other side.
To work on your balance, perform this exercise without holding onto an object.

SIDE TO SIDE LEG SWINGS


Side to Side Leg Swings
Stand tall with hands holding onto and facing a stationary bar (ballet barre), sturdy chair or any sturdy object.
With abs contracted and with right knee straight, swing your right leg out to the side as far as possible. Bring right leg back and cross just over left foot. Perform as many reps as possible.
Repeat on other side.
Exercise Variation: Place a loop band around ankles to add some resistance. With abs contracted and with right knee straight bring right leg out to side as far as possible in a slow and controlled movement.  Bring right leg back to the left foot ankle.  Perform as many reps as possible.
Repeat on the other side.
This primarily works the hip adductors.
To work on your balance, perform this exercise without holding onto an object.

PRONE HIP INTERNAL ROTATION

Prone Hip Internal Rotation
This was one of my favorite stretches to perform when I had physical therapy relating to a discectomy.  This stretch targets the deep hip muscles.
Lie face down on the floor with knees together forming a 90° angle with flexed feet.
Keeping hips on floor and knees together, lower feet out to the sides as far as possible. Hold for 2-3 seconds and return to original position. Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
Exercise Variation: Place a loop band around ankles to add some resistance.  Lie face down on the floor with knees together forming a 90° angle with flexed feet.  Keeping hips on floor and knees together,  lower feet out to the sides as far as possible. Hold for 2-3 seconds and return to original position.  Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Want more information on hip stretches or exercises?  Please leave a comment…

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