KITBOX & Xendurance: The Best At-Home Stretches For Tight Hips
When you’re at the gym, you’ve got access to all kinds of kit to get you loose and warm, but what about at home? Stretching shouldn’t be limited to the 10 minutes before your workout, though. Improving your mobility, or further, improving and maintaining your mobility, is a daily process.
Working on your mobility should be as much a part of your day as brushing your teeth.
We’ve teamed up with functional fitness outfitters KITBOX, we’re going to run through some of the most simple, effective stretches for an area of the body which takes a clear and almost constant battering on an almost daily basis - your hips.
The hips get a bum deal
When you’re sitting, your hip flexors are tightening up. When you workout, your hip flexors are under tension. They go from one extreme to another, and they’re often what’s causing problems when it comes to poor positioning and pain elsewhere in your body.
When we talk about your hips, we’re talking about everything from inside the groin area, around the outside and down the front of the quads. It’s a ball joint, so it moves in all directions, and as such, if you want to get your mobility back, you need to mobilise it in all directions.
Why do I need mobile hips?
Alright, let’s take a step back to understand why it’s important that your hips move freely. Whether you consider yourself an athlete or not, being able to efficiently and properly move your body around is important for preventing pain and injury. That’s paramount.
Anyone who’s ever had an injury knows that as the pain gets worse, the compensations become more exaggerated.
- In everyday life, tight hips can cause your spine to round, leading to back pain
- As an athlete tight hips restrict movement into certain positions
- Compensating tight hips with poor technique will ultimately lead to pain and possible injury
The squat test
One of the simplest ways of testing hip mobility is with a basic air squat. In a good squat, the knees track forwards and out over the little toes, the hips go back, the chest and back remain upright and the torso drops down.
If your hips are restricted, finding the room for that to happen is difficult. You’ll round your back, lean forwards or turn your feet out to compensate.
Signs of tight hips in a squat:
- Feet turned out
- Extra wide stance
- Rounded back
- Torso leaning forwards
Fixing tight hips at home
All of these stretches can be done at home, using nothing more than the floor and a wall.
What you’ll need (for some, not all):
By far one of the best and most effective hip opening exercises you can do.
- Place your knee around 12 inches from the wall
- Bring the other leg (the one you’re stretching) onto the wall, backs of toes against the wall
- Lift your chest until you feel a deep stretch through the hip and quad of the leg on the wall
- Hold for 1-2 minutes per side
Opening the iliopsoas (front of hip and quad)
Myofascial release (rolling)
Self-massage. Rolling out breaks up knotted, tight tissue and helps to restore blood flow.
- Lie on your front with a foam roller underneath you, at the top of your quad/hip
- Gently roll back and forth, applying pressure as necessary
- When you find a tight spot, squeeze your quad and release
- Work over the whole quad and hip
Releasing tight tissues and restoring movement and blood flow. A more intense version of this release can be attempted with a ball.
- Lie on your side with the close to, slightly above your pocket
- Hold the ball in place and gently roll onto it (it will be uncomfortable)
- Find the sticky parts and roll the ball around
Sit in a squat
MobilityWOD guru Kelly Starrett always talks about working into the area of restriction. That means attacking the problem head-on.
If your problem is a good squat position, find a way to get into a better squat position and stay there.
- Get into a good squat position (feet pointing forwards, knees tracked out over pinkie toes)
- Lift your chest and keep a neutral spine
- Hold onto a bed frame or post to keep from falling or rounding
- Actively work on moving your hips around and pushing your knees out
- Stay in this position for at least two minutes. Come up if you need to, but accumulate as much time as possible (+5 minutes)
Opening the hips and helping your body to relearn good mechanics.
Lunge and Pigeon
Two great stretches for getting way down deep into your hip capsules.
- For the lunge, get into a long lunge position, back knee on the floor
- Lean forwards and out to the side, rotating as you go to find the tight spots
- Work your way around for at least 1-2 minutes
- For a more intense stretch, lift both knees off the floor and gently sink your hips towards the floor
- For the pigeon, sit on the floor and bring one leg out in front of you
- Place the outside of the knee on your leading leg on the floor
- Begin to slowly lean over the front leg, trying to touch your elbows on the floor
One final of advice for preventing tight hips - sit less, move more.
Having been involved in functional fitness in the UK from the beginning, in one way or another, KITBOX always try to give something back when we can. We have many friends within the community and help out a growing number of athletes. Whether it be supporting individual athletes, sponsoring throwdowns, helping to organise grass roots competitions or just training with our friends at our local box, we are always listening and learning and trying to help out where we can.