Hip mobility may sound like something only older generations need to think about, but if you have a desk job, your hips are likely tight. Rather than doing even more sitting to hold static stretches, dynamic stretching is the better option for warming up your hips and the muscles that support them.
And if you're stretching before a workout, holding a stretch for a long period of time can actually make your muscles slower and less powerful, according to a January 2012 review in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. You can avoid that by doing dynamic stretching instead. Dynamic stretching is very active, so you're not only warming up your muscles but you're elevating your heart rate, too.
Hip exercises and stretches can be particularly time-consuming, given that there are so many muscles around this joint, helping turn it in every direction. To hit all the angles, you'll need to rotate, flex and extend your hips. That's why you need exercises in your warm-up that use the full range of motion.
These seven hip stretches make a great movement break from your desk job, or you can do them all as a warm-up before a lower-body workout to improve your mobility and protect your hips.
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1. Lateral Lunge
- Facing forward, keep your weight in your left leg as you step your right foot a few feet to the right, toes pointing forward.
- Leaning to your left, bend the left knee slowly and shoot the hips back until your knee makes about a 90-degree angle.
- Press through the left heel to straighten the left leg and step your feet together.
- Repeat the lateral lunge on the other leg.
2. 90/90 Hip Stretch
- Sit on the ground with one knee bent in front of you at 90 degrees and one knee bent behind you at 90 degrees.
- Lift both knees up and turn to face the leg behind you, keeping your heels planted on the ground.
- Keep switching back and forth, feeling a stretch in your hips.
3. Knee Grab
- Keeping your weight in your right leg, raise your left knee up toward the chest.
- Grasp your left shin with your left hand and your ankle with the right hand.
- Pull your left leg toward your torso.
- Take a step forward with your left leg and repeat on the right side.
4. Single-Leg Toe Touch
- Stand and balance on your left leg, keeping your back flat.
- Raise your right leg in the air straight back behind you, leaning your torso forward.
- Reach for your right toes with your left hand.
- Return to standing and repeat on the opposite side.
To challenge your balance, do several reps on the same side without tapping your raised foot on the ground in between.
5. Reverse Lunge
- Stand with feet hip-width apart.
- Step back with your right leg as far as you can and drop your right knee down to the ground. At the same time, bend your left knee to a 90-degree angle.
- Stand back up.
- Switch sides by stepping the left leg back.
6. Hip Rotators
- From standing, pick your right knee up and grab it with your hands.
- Pull the knee up to your chest, feeling a stretch across your right glute.
- Then, gently release your right leg and take a step forward on your right leg.
- Raise your left leg and repeat on the opposite side.
7. Zombie Walks
- Take a step forward on your right leg.
- At the same time swing your left leg up, reaching for your left toes with your right hand.
- Control the leg on the swing down and step forward on your left leg, repeating the motion on the other side.
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