While not everyone can have those supple hips like Shakira, you can all benefit from working on and strengthening muscles that support those agile hips.
Although often ignored and uncared for, your hips are the fulcrum point for all the movements in your lower body. Sitting at work or home for most of the day leads to tight hip flexors that causes troubles like hip pain, lower back pain and injury.
Moreover, weak hips can lead to an antalgic gait, causing knee, ankle or foot injuries that can leave you resting in bed for days or months at a stretch.
And this is just the beginning, hip problems don’t stop here. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 2.5 million Americans today are living with an artificial hip. In fact, hip replacements are on the rise in the United States, peaking specifically among adults in early middle-age.
A 2005 study published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine discovered an association between overuse injuries in the lower extremities and poor strength in the hip abductor, adductor and flexor muscles around the hip region.
So, it’s worthwhile to take a look at your hip troubles and work to improve their strength and flexibility.
While nothing can beat walking, jogging and running, compound hip-specific strengthening exercises like squats, bridges and lunges are important to make sure your hips stay strong.
Here are some great hip flexor exercises that will help strengthen your hips and improve flexibility.
This exercise works on your hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, lower back and glutes, for strengthening and reducing pain.
Lying lateral leg raises help strengthen and develop your iliotibial bands that are responsible for your side-to-side leg motions. This exercise works on your gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, obliques, hamstrings and quadriceps.
Lying leg circles work on your gluteal muscles and hip flexors to promote flexibility, strength and range of motion in all the muscles that make hip and leg rotation possible.
Eventually, as you practice the exercise daily, you may raise your leg higher.
Also known as pistol squats, single-leg squats are a great exercise that work primarily on increasing the resilience in your legs. It targets your glutes, hips and quad muscles to improve your balance and stability.
You may increase the number of sets gradually as you acquire strength.
The butterfly stretch primarily works on your hips, inner thighs and lower back to increase flexibility and strengthen muscles.
The clamshell exercise works on balancing the muscular effort between your pelvic floor and your inner and outer thighs, thus strengthening your hips and lower body. It primarily aims at your gluteus medius, a muscle in your hip abductors.
As the name suggests, think of a clamshell opening as you do the exercise. Your glute should do all the work, so keep the rest of your body completely still as you lift and lower your leg.
The pigeon pose is an effective exercise that helps reduce stress and tension in the hip region, thus improving flexibility. It works on your groin and hip flexor muscles and opens up your hip rotator muscles (gluteus medius & minimus).
Marching glute bridges help stabilize your pelvis, while working on your glutes, hamstrings and spinal muscles in the lower back.
The step-up is one of the best exercises for your hips and legs.
If you do not have a stepper at home, you may practice by climbing up and down the stairs.
Once you’ve perfected this pattern, you can perform this exercise while holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands.
The lying hip extension, or reverse straight leg raise, is an effective exercise for strengthening your glutes and hamstring muscles.
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