This post on hip mobility is the second of our blog post series designed to help you move better in your daily life. Check out our first one on how to relieve neck pain. This week, we address our most necessary muscles needed for everyday movement: our hips.
The average person can spend up to 13 hours a day sitting. If you spend most of your day working at a desk, commuting by car, or sitting in class, you’ve probably felt the consequences of sitting too long. Lack of hip mobility can often result in lower back pain and lower body stiffness. You may likely feel pain in your lower back after a long day of work, squatting down to pick up your kids, or even just getting out of the car. Sitting for long periods of time isn’t normal for our mobile bodies and you probably think you sit way less than you actually do. Try calculating the average number of hours you sit in a day here.
Luckily, there is a way to remedy the discomfort without having to spend time or money at the gym or on coaches. You just need to give your hips a little attention when you’re sitting during the day.
Do this 60-second sequence for the next seven days and start living pain-free now.
1. 100 Squats
Start with 10 air squats before you sit and then do another 10 every hour right at your desk, ending your 8-hour work day of sitting with your last 10 squats.
Your hips and the muscles around them are the basis for all your movements. Sitting for long stretches of time not only stiffens the hips, but makes them weaker and less functional. Get moving to promote blood flow through your body and organs to counter the possibility of high blood pressure, muscle cramps, varicose veins, strokes and blood clots.
2. Open Up Your Hips
Stand up and put your foot on the seat of your chair with your leg propped up (shin parallel to your thigh bone). Put one hand on your knee, the other on the chair and back up just enough to fold your chest forward and add pressure to your front leg. From here, gently push your knee inward and outward twisting your upper body into and away from your knee 3 times. Then do the other side. Do this after each set of air squats.
Advanced: If you can handle a deeper stretch, do an advanced version with your shin and knee on the seat of your chair in pigeon position (shin lying parallel with your hips). Put one hand on your knee, the other on your foot and back up just enough to fold forward and add pressure. Push your upper body to twist towards the knee and then away from it. Do this 3 times for each leg.
3. Engage Your Core Properly
- Sit up straight with your back against a chair, keeping both feet flat on the floor.
- Take one hand to your lower belly and place your other hand right above it.
- Take a deep inhale and fill your belly and your low back, pushing your belly into your hands and your low back against the chair. On your exhale, deflate your midsection as you continue to push your back up against the chair.
- Start adding in the core engagement while you continue to breath. Add a squeeze of your glutes (butt cheeks) and try to keep the squeeze for 5 full breaths.
- Do this after opening up your hips and right when you sit down.
An engaged core will help unload your hips of negative tension. And remember, your core is not just your abdominals. It also includes your obliques, lower back, pelvic area, glutes…basically everything below your chest down to your knees.
HOW you do anything matters almost more than WHAT you do. If you have to sit for long periods of time, know that how you sit–your form–is what determines your level of discomfort.
If you want to go a step further and practice hip mobility with stretches, try out this short routine by GMB Fitness. If you want to focus on specifically stretching your hip flexors, check out Gymnastic Bodies’ short and sweet guide to opening them up.
For those of you who can’t escape sitting, it’s important to check in with your body and assess your aches and pains. Shakira was right, your hips don’t lie. Next time you’re feeling hip pain and lower back stiffness, do this quick and simple sequence to help increase mobility and get you closer to a pain-free day.