The hip joint consists of a ball and socket and is responsible not only for stabilizing your upper body but also locomotion. Strenuous exercise, certain leg and back injuries, wearing high-heel shoes and health conditions like arthritis can cause your hip joints to feel stiff and uncomfortable. This can limit your range of motion and affect your mobility. However, there are exercises you can do to loosen the soft tissue in the hip area as well as improve flexibility and range of motion for the hip.
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Soften the Soft Tissue
Range-of-motion issues in the hip can be a result of tightness in the soft tissue covering and surrounding the joint. To loosen the soft tissue around your hip and improve flexibility, you can massage the iliotibial bands on the outside of your upper thigh, your hip adductors in your inner thigh and your hamstring muscles. Use a foam roller or a small ball like a baseball, golf ball, tennis ball or lacrosse ball to massage these areas. Apply moderate pressure and roll the roller or ball up and down over the muscle or ligament, stopping at sensitive spots. Do 15 rolls per area, working different angles to get a thorough massage.
Front to Back
The hip is responsible for helping your leg move forward and backward when walking, jogging and running. To improve this portion of your hip's range of motion, do forward and backward leg swings. Hold on to a wall or stable surface, stand on one leg and slowly swing the other leg forward and backward. Keep your leg straight as you swing it back and do not arch your back to get the best stretch and optimum improvement in range of motion. Do 15 with each leg.
The hip also allows you to move your legs side to side, so you have to do range-of-motion exercises across this plane to get full flexibility and mobility. Hold on to a wall or stable surface for balance. Swing your leg in front of you from side to side. Lead with your heel as you swing across your body. Keep your toes on the stabilizing foot pointed forward and do not allow your torso to twist. You can add to the benefits of this range-of-motion exercise by moving your hands in the opposite direction of your leg swings. Do 15 per leg.
You use your hips to bend your torso when you lean forward or squat down. Therefore, doing yoga squats can help you improve this capacity of hip range of motion. Put your hands above your head, keep your weight on your heel and bend down in to a deep squat. Once down, put your hands on the ground and straighten your legs. Hold for a moment then return to the squat position before standing back up. Do 10 to improve flexibility, mobility and range of motion.