If you spend much time at a desk, in a car, or on a couch, you probably have reduced hip mobility. And you probably don’t even notice it because you don’t feel it in your hips. But if you’ve ever had lower back pain after a long day at work or had trouble squatting all the way down to pick up a bag of groceries, chances are your hips need some attention.
Our hips don’t lie
Our hips and the muscles that surround them are the base for most of our movement. Unfortunately, the necessities of daily life can make our hips less functional than we’d like. Sitting most of the day stiffens the hips and can make them weaker from prolonged positioning.
This is not ideal for us, and not ideal for the workhorses of our body. It’s important to spend some time each day remedying the issues many of us have with tight, dysfunctional hips, which is why I created the stretching sequence in a previous article for Healthy & Fit Magazine (March 2017,
5 Mistakes You Are Making in The Gym) to help open the hips. The half kneeling hip flexor stretch and the glute hip lift are wonderful exercises to keep your hips healthy.
These are two areas we also forget to improve range of motion. We tend to focus more on the front of the hip (people think of hip flexor), but neglect the internal and external rotators.
The 90/90 hip external and internal rotation stretch
To get into the 90/90 positions, your lead leg should be directly in front of you, bent to 90 degrees. Line it up with your heel. The trail leg should be to the side, also bent to 90 degrees, with the heel lining up with the back leg.
When you’re in the position, extend your back. Try to get your belly button to hover over your knee.
If you lean forward keeping your chest up high, you’ll get a deep stretch in your lead leg. What you’re stretching here is the gluteus minimus muscle, piriformis and external rotators of the hip.
While you move forward to stretch that area, push the knee and ankle of the trail leg behind you into the ground.
This will help stretch your internal rotators (think groin area) of the hip. Make sure to take deep belly breaths as you are in this position. DO NOT force the range of motion at all and back off when needed.
Note: If you are tight in the hips you will find it hard to keep the lumbar curve and pelvis tilted forward. To help maintain the curve in the lumbar spine you can place your hands behind you to help support a more upright posture. This modification is very important for anyone with a history of back pain because it prevents you from over-stretching the low back during what is intended to be a hip stretch.
Justin Grinnell B.S., CSCS is the owner of State of Fitness in East Lansing. He is also a certified nutrition coach. Reach him at 517.708.8828.