meIn theory, the hips are one of the most mobile joints in the body, as they can move along multiple axes as they flex and extend, abduct and adduct, and internally and externally rotate.
In practice, though? Anyone who works at a desk all day knows that it only takes a few hours of sitting before your hips start to feel…crunchy.
That’s because when we’re sitting for long periods, our hip flexors and lower back muscles get used to being in a shorter position, says Tanner Neuberger, a physical therapist at Athletico Physical Therapy in Des Moines, Iowa. And, when we spend a lot of time without moving, our synovial fluid thickens, he says, creating more resistance in the joint.
Beyond the sheer discomfort of having stiff hips after sitting, you may also have less mobility in other parts of your body, like your knees or lower back, says Neuberger, and it can make warming up for a safe exercise longer and more difficult task.
But sedentary workers aren’t doomed to have sticky hips: We asked Neuberger for exercises that combat hip stiffness. He recommends spreading these seven movements out throughout the day to break up long periods of sitting.
1. Mid-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
On your knees with your right foot planted in front of you and your left knee on the floor (creating two right angles with your knees) and your spine long, contract your left glute to gently bring your pelvis forward until you feel a slight stretch in your hips. front of. of the left hip. Slowly rock back and forth, being careful not to arch your back. Do two sets of 15 per side. If you feel your hip flexor starting to loosen, advance the stretch by engaging your lower spine: With your right foot planted, reach your left arm up and over your head to the right as you rock forward.
2. Pigeon stretch
Extend your left leg straight behind you on the floor, with your right leg in front of you, your right hip externally rotated, and your right knee bent with your shin perpendicular to your body and your foot flexed. Keeping your hips square, lean forward to stretch, landing on your hands or elbows, depending on how tight your hips are. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.
3. Internal rotation in frontal decubitus
Lying on your stomach on your stomach, bend your right knee at a 90-degree angle. Internally rotate from the hip joint, gently sending your right foot out to the side. Do two sets of 15 reps on each side, holding the stretch with your foot to the side for a few seconds if it feels good.
4. Front decubitus leg raise
Lying on your stomach with both legs straight, squeeze your right glute to lift your right leg. The range of motion will be small – stop before you feel your lower back engage. Keep both hips pressed into the ground throughout the exercise. Do two sets of 15 repetitions on both sides.
5. Leg raises lying on your side or standing
Lying on your side with your bottom leg bent, lift your top leg up and slightly behind you, feeling the activation in your gluteus medius (the upper corner of your working glute). If you feel the front of your hip, focus on lifting your leg further back. Do two sets of 15 repetitions on each side. To progress through the exercise, try it standing up, making sure your upper body remains still and your hips remain square.
6. Glute bridges
Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, bring your heels as close to the seat as possible. Engaging your core and pulling your navel in toward your spine, squeeze your glutes to lift your hips into a bridge position, feeling the stretch in your hip flexors. Do two sets of 15 repetitions.
Standing with your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart and your arms extended or over your hips, squat down, breaking through your hips and shifting your weight into your heels to send your seat toward the floor. Do two sets of 15 repetitions.