Tight hips – exercises and prevention

Does your legs feeling like they weighting tons while running? Is your running posture more like sitting in the chair than upward? Do you have knee or other leg pains? If you answered yes even one question, you MIGHT have tight hip muscles or/and muscle weakness. If you don’t suffer any of these I still recommend to you take care of your hips to prevent any problems to the future, for example those that we spoke at running injuries: hip and thigh pain post.

In hips area we have many muscles and muscles’ insertion and origin which rotate, flex and extend our legs. These muscles are also one of the basis for our running. If these muscles are tight or weak they pull our body down when space between our upper body and legs shortened as muscles are short too. This of course lead that our legs don’t have enough space to move economically beneath us. In the long run this can be affected many factors such as injuries and running pace.

There are two main things; stretching and strengthening.

Stretching;
1.Hip flexor stretch:
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Step other leg forward into a lunge with rear knee touching the floor. Make sure your lunge is wide enough that your front leg knee is the straight vertical line with angle. Keep good posture and push your hip forward, this should stretch hip flexors.

2.Thigh stretch:
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Take similar position as previous one, but make it more narrow, bring rear leg under your body so upper body and leg is the same vertical line while other leg is front of you. Raise your ankle upward towards to your butt either your hand(s) or place it into the wall behind you.

3.Hip rotations:
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Use table or box, where to place one bent leg so the lateral side of calf is laying on the box. Keep your torso in good posture. If you don’t have box or table you can do this on to floor, placing front leg same way as using box, but instead of stand let your rear leg lay straight behind you.

4.Frog:
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Put your hands and knees on the floor, slowly widen your knees out to your sides, like doing the side split. Keep your shins on the floor back of your body.

5.Gluteal stretch:
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There are several ways to stretch gluteus muscles. One is to go sitting position on the floor with both legs straight in front of you. Pick one leg and bring it cross to your other leg. Pull the crossed leg’s knee towards to your chest, keep the back straight.
The other version is; lay in your back on the floor, both legs straight. Bring one leg towards to your chest, pull the knee towards to your chest. You can also modify this stretch to straightening the pulled leg when the stretching feels more in hamstrings. Make sure that you keep your leg straight, and not bend on knee.

Strengthening:
1.Side walk:
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Put resistance band around your tights, bend your knees a slightly like doing squat. Take one step to your right with your right leg, then take one step to your right with your left leg. Keep doing this around 10-20 meters then come back starting the left leg. Make sure your knees and toes are pointing the same way all the time and you keep slight squat position.

2.Quadruped hip extension:
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Get on your hands and knees, keep your arms and back straight. Raise one leg until it straight line with your back. You can keep your raising leg either bent or do it more like a kick movement when straightening the leg.

3.Bridge
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Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Raise your hips of the floor making the straight line all the way from your shoulders to knees, pause and squeeze your butt. Lower your back and hips back to the floor, repeat. You can make this harder adding the weight on top of the hips. Or raising other leg of the floor.

4.Hip abductors – side-lying
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Lie down in your right side, make sure your body is straight and left hip is directly over the right hip. You can place your top hand front of your body to balance the body. Raise your top leg raise to the air and lower. Making this harder you can place resistance band around your leg. Remember repeat both sides.

5.Single leg deadlift
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Stand normally with straight back and legs, lean towards the floor trying to reach your hand to the floor. Same time raise other leg behind you, keeping your back and supporting leg straight. Don’t lock your knee. Making this harder you can use weights or perform it less stable surface.

6.Knee raise
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Stand normally, raise your other knee up and lower it back to the ground. Arms can swing on your side like demonstrating the running movement. You can use ankle weights to make movement harder and get up on your toes every time when raising the leg.

Foam roller is also great helper to lose hips tension. Remember there are tons of more variations and styles to stretch and strength your hips, these are just a few examples which are good to include your training. If something feels uncomfortable or hurt do not perform it, find some other solutions or ask more variations.

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