August 9, 2013
Tight hips seem to be a common issue among runners and cyclists. Even if these activities are not part of your weekly exercise routine, chances are you may have tight hips, too—and your job is to blame.
Sitting for long periods of time has a negative effect of our health. Research shows that people who sit six hours or longer can experience a number of health concerns, including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Prolonged sitting also has a negative physical effect on our bodies. Tight muscles surrounding the hip joint can cause pain and discomfort in the hips and lower spine. Tight hip flexors—located in the front of the hip—can cause the pelvis to tilt forward, while tight abductors—located in the side of the hip—can cause the thighs to rotate outward and put pressure on the knees and low back.
Simply put, our bodies were not meant to sit and be still all day long, but the good news is prolonged sitting isn’t hard to counteract. Get up every hour. Move your body in however you see fit, and stretch twice a day to bring supple strength to the surrounding muscles and hip joint.
Whether you are a dancer or daytime desk blogger, these stretches are good for anyone in need of loosening up the hips and low back. These three stretches should be performed for a minimum of two sets, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Begin in a single-leg kneeling position with the right foot in front and kneeling on the left knee. Maintain a neutral spine and contract the left glute to stretch the left hip flexor. If you’re able, deepen this stretch by gradually shifting the hips forward.
Begin in a hands and knees position, placing the hands underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips. Cross your right foot over your left and shift your hands over to the right. Gradually begin shifting your weight over to your right hip, lower the hip toward the floor until you feel a stretch. Resist the temptation to shift the glutes back and sit toward the heels.
Quadratus Lumborum Stretch
Begin on your back with your feet on the floor and knees toward the ceiling, with the arms extended out to the sides of the body, palms facing up. Cross the right leg over the left leg and slowly lower both legs to the left, holding this position for 30 seconds. Keeping the legs crossed, slowly move the legs to the center and then lower the legs to the left. Again, hold this position for 30 seconds.
Stephanie Thielen, BS, has a fitness career that spans over 24 years with experience in group fitness training and management in the community, corporate and collegiate setting. As an ACE Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer, two-time IDEA Presenter, NETA trainer, AEA Trainer, and BOSU National Master Trainer, Stephanie provides land and aquatic workshops that teach logical methods for class construction, providing the “tools of the trade” to assist fitness professionals develop their teaching skills. Find Stephanie on Facebook at Stephanie Thielen Fitness, LLC.