Ligaments are strong connective tissues that connect bones together to form joints. Unlike muscles, they do not have much flexibility and blood supply. If you are not physically active, ligaments in your hip joints become weak and stiff, which cause poor mobility in your joints. Gray Cook, founder of Functional Movement Systems, notes that stiff and weak hip joints causes back pain, knee pain and poor posture. Strengthening and moving your hips in different directions will help alleviate and solve these problems.
Three-Point Hip Circles
Cook suggests that you strengthen your hips and increase mobility in your hips before doing strength exercises. Having a full range of motion in your hip joints will improve your strength and performance. This exercise moves your hip joints in all directions while on your hands and knees. It teaches you how to move your hip joints while keeping your spine stable.
Go on your hands and knees on the floor, and place them shoulder-distance apart. Bring your left knee to your chest, and make a circular pattern counter-clockwise by externally rotating your hip joint and extend your left leg behind you. Repeat the movement pattern in a fluid manner 10 times. Then rotate your hip joint clockwise 10 times. Do not move your spine throughout the exercise.
Squatting works all lower body muscles and joints while keeping your torso stabilized. Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart, and lower your hips to the floor as low as you can. Keep your knees and feet pointing forward so that you do not place excessive pressure on one side of your knee or ankle. Extend your arms in front of you with your palms up to maintain balance and posture. Exhale and stand back up without hunching your back or shoulders forward. Do 10 squats for three to four sets.
You can also use dumbbells and kettlebells to add more resistance by holding a weight in each hand with your arms close to the center of your body. Using one free weight instead of two creates less balance, which requires you to shift your weight more to the side of your body that is not carrying the weight.
This exercise increases power production in your lower body muscles and stability and strength in your hip, knee, and ankle joints. Vern Gambetta, director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems in Sarasota, Florida, suggests that you should do this only when you have developed the squat movement pattern and strength because you need to squat first in order to produce enough energy to jump vertically.
Start in the same position as the squat exercise. Bend your knees and ankles together, and swing your arms back behind you. Jump straight up as high as you can, and swing your arms up above your head at the same time. As soon as you land in the same position as you had started, immediately squat and jump up again. Repeat the pattern as fast as you can between eight to 10 reps for three to four sets.
- Athletic Body in Balance; Gray Cook
- Athletic Development; Vern Gambetta