Hip Mobility Exercises -
Mobility Is Not Stretching!
Many people may think that they’re improving their hip mobility by doing hip stretches but this is not necessarily the case. In this post, you’ll learn what mobility is along with 5 different hip mobility exercises that you can add into your workout routine.
What is mobility?
Mobility and flexibility are two different things. For example, when you stretch your hamstrings with a strap, you aren’t really working on the mobility of your hip, you’re just working on flexibility by lengthening the hamstring muscle.
Mobility is more about how your joints are moving through their range of motion. Mobility takes into account multiple components. To have “good” mobility of a joint, you need to have “good” flexibility, strength, and stability. Flexibility allows your muscles to lengthen enough so that your joint can move through it’s full range. Strength & stability keep the joint in a stable position while you move. When you combine these components, you get mobility.
It sounds complex but really the importance of having good mobility is so that we can actively move our bodies in a healthy way.
Working on hip mobility
The hip joint is a common area of the body where people may lack adequate mobility. That’s why I’m sharing with you 5 different hip mobility exercises to help improve the mobility of your hip joints. There should be no pain with any of the exercises listed.
Since these exercises work on hip mobility, they are dynamic, so I have provided video clips for you to see how to perform them. You’ll find a common theme with all of these exercises is that we do them slow and with control. For more details on how to do these exercises, you can do them in a 15 minute yoga flow listed below.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. If you are experiencing pain, seek care from a medical doctor.
If you have any conditions or history of surgeries that restrict your movement (for example, a hip replacement) consult your doctor before performing these exercises.
5 Hip Mobility Exercises
1. Controlled Yogi Squats
This exercise is similar to goblet squats if you are familiar with those.
When doing this exercise, move through your range in a slow and controlled manner. Make sure your knees don’t fall in at the bottom of the squat and don’t lock your knees when standing back up.
If you can’t come all the way down as shown in the video, that’s ok, just do this in the range that you can keep slow and controlled.
2. Standing Active Hip Flexion & Abduction Holds
What makes this a hip mobility exercise is that we are not pulling the leg in with our hands. We are actively using the muscles of the hip joint to move the leg into position.
For this exercise, begin by actively bring one knee in toward the chest (as far as you can without rounding your spine). This is hip flexion, hold this here for a 5 seconds.
Next, bring the leg out to the side while keeping the pelvis pointing forward (don’t let torso twist). This is hip abduction, hold this for 5 seconds.
Next, with control, bring leg back to hip flexion and then slowly lower it back down to the ground.
3. Downward Dog Hip Circles
Hip circles are a great way to work on mobility of the hip joint because the hip is a ball and socket joint. By doing hip circles, we’re allowing this joint to move in all different directions.
Like all of our hip mobility exercises so far, these should also be done slow and controlled. The knee should be bent on the leg that is doing the circles. Go in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. Keep the motion at the hip joint only, don’t let the the torso/pelvis move around. I usually like to do 3-5 circles in each direction.
4. Active Butterfly
When we just let the legs fall into a butterfly and hold it there, we’re working on flexibility. By actively moving in and out of the range, we’re working on mobility.
For this variation, you may want to bring the feet slightly further out in front of you than you typically would to stretch in butterfly (so more like a diamond shape). Keep the spine straight. I like to place my hands behind me and prop up on my finger tips to keep my spine straight. Slowly bring legs in and out of position.
For all my yogis out there, this is like bound angle pose.
5. Pigeon Variation With Hip Internal Rotation
With this exercise, we’re working on internal rotation of the hip joint. Internal rotation is often a motion of the hip joint that is limited for people.
Your starting position will be in a modified single leg pigeon (instead of having the back leg straight like in traditional pigeon, the back knee is bent and the inner part of your knee is resting on the ground). The back leg is the one moving. Lean forward over your front leg with a straight spine.
The back leg will move into internal rotation. To do this, lift your foot/ankle up toward the ceiling. The knee stays on the ground. Also, don’t change the bend in your knee while doing this, the motion should only be coming from your hip joint.
For many people, this may be a very small motion; that’s ok! It’s better to move through less range and do this with correct form.
There are your 5 hip mobility exercises! For some individuals, learning these exercises ,may be easier with verbal and visual instructions.
For more details on these exercises, you can find them all in the 15 minute yoga flow below!