Today we’re stretching into mobility (quite literally, in fact). Specifically, we’re focusing on creating more mobile hips.
But, before we dive into the moves you need to keep your hips mobile, check out why these are definitely worth your time and are extremely important to incorporate into your regime on a regular basis.
What Exactly is “Mobility”?
When we talk about mobility in relation to our bodies, we’re simply referring to the ability of our bodies to move freely through their range of motion. This includes moving fully through joints and muscle range, and also flexibility within tendons and muscles coupled with strength.
Having high mobility not only increases strength by allowing us to move deeper into movements like squats but also helps protect us from injury. If you picture a buff powerlifter who can bench press a small car but can touch his toes, versus, say, a cross-fitter or functional movement trainee who can lift and bend, you can clearly see that while one may be stronger, they are also more liable to “break” if stretched in a new direction. Think of the bendable strength like bamboo versus a rigid board analogy and you’ll get a clear picture of mobility in the body.
The Importance of Hip Mobility
Like I mentioned earlier, hip mobility is actually a huge part of increasing lower body strength. This is because mobile, flexible hips allow us to sink deeper into movements like squats and lunges, and also provide a foundation of flexible strength when we start lifting heavier.
Hip mobility also improves agility, allowing you to rotate more quickly and smoothly during quick movements. Tire flips become easier, along with rope climbs, Turkish getups, and box jumps. Hip mobility also improves real-world movements, such as rotational movements and squatting movements outside of the gym or in sports.
Having strong and flexible hips helps prevent injuries as well since you’re able to move your hip joint and inner thighs through full ranges of motion even though the muscles are strong. Here, power and flexibility win.
You’ll notice that many of the exercises below mimic flow movements or real-world rotational movements for your hips. Aim to run through these at least a couple days a week.
5 Exercises for Better Hip Mobility
Perform these 5 exercises, designed to help open and strengthen your hips simultaneously, in a sequence before or after your flows to help get those hips mobile.
1. Hip Box Turnovers
Hip box turnovers utilize a box and a bounce to help loosen and stretch your hip joint and inner thighs. It also gets your blood flowing simultaneously, s you get fresh oxygenated blood to the area, which is particularly great for healing if you’ve been sore.
Place the heel of your right foot on a box slightly lower than hip level. As you bounce, rotate your ankle in and out for 30 seconds on each leg for 3 sets. Take a 60-second rest between sets.
2. Lunge Twists
Lunge twists provide a simultaneous hip stretch with strengthening lunges, helping to make your hips stronger as they become more flexible (aka our ideal).
Alternate lunging from side to side for one minute, keeping a bend in your knees and engaging your core at all times. Repeat for 3 sets, resting for 60 seconds between each.
3. Mountain Climbers to Hip Flexor Stretches
Here we slow down mountain climbers in order to get a deep hip stretch, combining it with a relaxing hip opener for a one-two mobility punch.
Begin in a kneeling position with one knee forward. Bend at your hips and bring your palms to the ground, lifting your back knee off the ground. You should feel a deep stretch in your hip flexor. Now, lower your knee and shift back to sitting on your booty, letting your arms stretch out in front of you and your forehead comes to the mat. Alternate for 1 minute and perform 3 sets, resting for 60 seconds between each.
4. Step Overs
While stepovers seem ultra-simple, they’re actually extremely effective at opening your hips while improving agility and “hip awareness,” if you will.
String a band or bar between two posts or bars of a machine and practice stepping over, focusing on pulling your leg up and overusing your hips. You should feel a nice stretch through your hip joint and inner thighs. Alternate for 1 minute, repeat for 3 sets with a 60-second rest between each.
5. Windshield Wipers
Windshield wipers help move your hip joints through their full rotation, which can help prevent rotational injuries during sports or other real-world movements that require you to turn quickly and pivot from your hips.
Begin sitting with your legs stretched out in front of you. Heels on the ground, rotate your knee inward, feeling your hip rotate inward as well. Alternate for one minute, focusing on keeping your torso straight. Repeat for 3 sets with a 60-second rest in between.
What do you think of these moves? Has hip mobility played a major role in your training? We’d love to hear!