Tight, uneven hips can cause your spine to flex and contort as it attempts to take pressure off your hips, according to Gray Cook, a physical therapist and founder of Functional Movement Systems in Danville, Va. This, in turn, limits rotational movement in both your torso and hips. The stiffness can cause back and hip pain, even injury to your spine; pelvic rotation exercises can loosen you up. If one side of your body is weaker or less coordinated than the other side, do an extra set of exercises on that side.
90/90 Hip Roll
This exercise keeps your torso still while moving your pelvis, and strengthening your abdominals and spine. Lie on the ground with your knees and hips bent at 90 degrees. Keep your arms out to the sides, palms facing up. Place a yoga block or a rolled-up towel between your legs. Slowly rotate your pelvis to your left as far as you can, keeping your lower back and right shoulder on the ground. Next, rotate to your right as far as you can. Notice if one side of your body feels weaker or tighter than the other. Do two to three sets of 10 to 16 repetitions.
You can also do this exercise with your legs straight and your toes pointing to your face. You may not be able to rotate as far.
Standing Hip Circle
This exercise rotates each hip joint in a circle while keeping your torso still. Stand in front of a chair or a wall, and place your hands on it for support. Lift your left leg up, with your knee and hip bent at 90 degrees. Slowly move your leg in a clockwise circle 10 times, as if you were drawing a circle on a wall. Then rotate counter-clockwise another 10 times. Start with small rotations, and gradually increase the size. Keep your spine and torso still.
Supine Hip Twist
This exercise lengthens your outer thigh and hip; you should feel this stretch from your lower back down to your outer thigh. Lie on your back on the ground, your arms out to the sides. Bend your right leg and hip, and place your left ankle over the right knee. Gently push your left knee away from your body, without using your hand. Lower your left foot toward the ground by rolling to your right. Keep your right knee bent when it is on the ground, and keep your left pressed gently away from your body. Hold the position for five deep breaths as you feel the stretch. Repeat the stretch on the other side. Notice if one side is tighter than the other.
- Athletic Body in Balance; Gray Cook
- Pain-Free Program; Anthony Carey