In our four-week series on the body’s mobile joints: ankle, hip, thoracic spine (middle section of the spine) and shoulder, remember that if a joint is not moving properly, it cannot be controlled and the force shifts to a different joint. Last week we talked ankle. This week let’s talk hip.
About the Hip
A multiplaner joint, the hip is designed to move in many different planes of motion. The movement of the hip is logical since it is a ball-in-socket joint: It can flex, extend, abduct, adduct and rotate in internal, external and circular directions. If the hip is not moving properly, something else in the body must compensate for normal function. This potentially could mean more movement in the knee or lumbar spine than the body tolerates. Sitting for a long period of time can tighten and shorten the hip flexors causing negative effects on hip mobility.
Test Your Hip Mobility
The active straight leg raise is a hip mobility screening test. Lie on your back with legs extended and toes pointed up, arms by sides, palms up. Bring one straight leg up toward the ceiling while keeping the rest of the body stable. If the ankle is above the hip, this indicates good hip mobility and hamstring flexibility. This screen also assesses core stability: The torso should stay still as the leg is being raised. If you experience pain in hip movements or question your mobility, I recommend talking to a doctor or physical therapist. An exercise specialist at the Fitness Center or a physical therapist can assess general mobility through a functional movement screen.
Exercises to Improve Hip Mobility
Moving the hips feels good and can be a great way to start the day. In the morning, try the following stretches to start your day, notice if the body feels any different over the week.
– Lay on your back and hug your knees into your chest.
– Extend the left leg straight and bend the right knee in. Hold the right knee with your left hand and place your right hand by your side. Pull the leg in and slightly toward your left shoulder, pushing the femur bone slightly into the hip joint. For more of a stretch, guide the knee with the left hand to make a C-shape motion.
During the work day, a quick standing stretch can help counter sitting posture and release tight hip flexors.