Avoid Hip Pain and Strain With These Simple Stretches

While having good core strength through your hips and pelvis is essential for alignment, power and efficiency, overly tight hips and glutes can contribute to mechanical problems such as lower back and sacroiliac discomfort, sciatica, hamstring strains and knee pain.

In swimming the glutes and hip flexors generate force through legs for your kick. In cycling the glutes assist in the ‘push down’ part of pedal stroke as well as stabilising your posture on the bike. In running the glutes maintain balance in your hips and pelvis, keep your torso upright and assist with alignment through your lower limbs (especially the knee) – while your hip flexors work with your hamstrings and quads to move the legs back and forth, as well as helping the glutes to stabilise your pelvis.

If you want to know how to strengthen your swim-bike-run core, you can find out more here.

The following six movements are passive stretches which will help to mobilise and release tightness in the primary hip movement muscles: iliopsoas, iliacus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, tensor fasciae latae, sartorius and piriformis. Other muscles associated with swim-bike-run mechanics that will benefit from these stretches are: latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, adductors, hamstrings, quadriceps.

How to do the stretches:

As your hips can be stiff immediately after a workout, I recommend doing these stretches after you’ve cooled down and are feeling relaxed. Do them in the order listed, as this will progressively open and mobilise different areas of the hip joint. If you’re very stiff, I suggest doing these stretches twice.

Aim to hold each position for 30 to 60 seconds, or 10 to 20 relaxed, smooth breaths.

NOTE: It’s essential that you initiate movement from the hips when going into and coming out of all these positions, and not from the knee joint itself. If you experience any discomfort in the knee, immediately come out of the pose and readjust your position so that you are not placing your knee joint under pressure or moving it beyond a comfortable range of movement.

Lunge

  1. Start on the floor, on your hands and knees, and take the right leg out behind you as far as you can comfortably.
  2. Drop your right knee to the floor and stretch out your foot.
  3. Your left knee should be over your left foot – make sure that it doesn’t extend over your toes.
  4. Place your hands on your hips or on your left knee – keep your spine tall, shoulders relaxed & chest open – allow your right groin to soften towards the floor.
  5. Return to hands and knees, and repeat to the right side by taking your left leg behind you.

Lying Knee to Chest

Start with the beginner position. If this feels easy, do the full position.

Lying Knee to Chest – beginner
  1. Beginner position: Lie on your back with your left foot pressed onto a wall, creating a 90’ angle through your knee – place the outside of your right foot across the top of your left knee – use your right hand to gently press your right knee towards the wall
  2. Full position: Lie on the floor with knees bent and place the outside of your right foot across the top of your right knee – bring your left knee towards your chest – take your arms around your knees and draw your legs into your chest.
  3. Repeat to the other side.
Lying Knee to Chest – full

Right Angle Forward Bend

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs together and straight out in front of you.
  2. Bend your right knee and bring the foot up to rest along the inside of your left thigh.
  3. Sit up tall with your torso facing forward – reach along your left leg as far as possible – keep your spine long and shoulders relaxed.
  4. If it is difficult to keep your left leg straight, bend the knee slightly.
  5. If you can reach your left foot, intensify the stretch by lying your whole torso along the top of your left thigh. Your head should be the last part to touch your leg.
  6. Repeat to the other side.
Right Angle Forward Bend – beginner
Right Angle Forward Bend – full

Simple Seated Twist

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs together and straight out in front of you.
  2. Keep the left leg straight with your foot flexed as if pushing into a wall.
  3. Bending your right leg, take the foot across your left knee and place it on the floor to the outside of your left thigh.
  4. Make sure that your hips face forward and your weight is evenly distributed between your buttocks – both sit bones should be firmly pressing into the floor.
  5. Keeping your spine tall, turn your torso around to the right. Place your right hand on the floor behind you, and bring your left arm across your right leg. If possible, anchor the left arm against the outside of your right thigh. Make sure that you’re twisting from your waist and not your hips.
  6. Keep both shoulders level – don’t lean back on your right arm. Now turn your head and look behind you.
  7. Repeat to the other side.
Simple Seated Twist

These additional two stretches get deep into the glutes and target those achy spots that even the foam roller can’t always reach.

Choose a table or bench which is approximately hip height and lay a blanket/towel on top for comfort.

Standing Right Angle Hip Opener

Standing Right Angle Hip Opener
  1. Stand facing the table – lift your right leg up, bend the knee and lie the outside of your calf and foot along the bench – there should be a right angle created from upper leg to lower leg
  2. To intensify the stretch, lean your upper body forward over your right leg.
  3. Repeat to the other side.

If your knee is hovering above the table or you feel too much pressure on your ankle, place a rolled up towel under your knee for extra support.

Crossover Hip Opener

Start with the beginner position. If this feels easy, do the full position.

Crossover Hip Opener – beginner
  1. Beginner position: Sit cross legged using a tightly rolled blanket or foam roller to raise your buttocks (adjust the height for comfort as needed). Cross your right knee over your left knee so that the right is stacked on top of the left, and tuck both feet beside your body.
  2. Full position: Sit crossed legged on the floor. Lift your right leg up and across your left leg, while drawing your left leg towards your centreline. Tuck both feet beside your buttocks. If this feels comfortable, stretch your upper body forward to intensify the stretch.
  3. Repeat to the other side.
Crossover Hip opener – full

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