by David Merson, PT, DPT, ATC
Hip strength, mobility, and flexibility need to work together in order for your body to be at its peak daily function and athletic performance. Looking at the hip region is important for many reasons. The hip has functions in multi-directions (similar to the shoulder), connects the lower extremity to the lower back, and has many muscle connection influences. If the hip joint becomes dysfunctional, many other areas of the body can develop compensatory patterns.
Many athletes and patients benefit from specific hip exercises in an effort to recover quicker and avoid the development of compensatory patterns. This blog article will highlight some of my preferred exercise interventions. Although, I have listed some of my favorite exercises that I educate my patients on how to perform, a thorough evaluation by a sports medicine professional is preferred to determine the most appropriate exercises.
SOFT TISSUE MOBILIZATION
Goal: Reduce tissue adhesions, increase flexibility, and promote recovery after exercise.
Foam roller: Instead of the typical foam roller, I recommend the grid roller (black or orange foam) on a harder surface. Rolling along the quad, hamstring, and glut region will help achieve the desired goals.
Tennis Ball or Yoga Ball: Same concept but the smaller object may allow for a more directed therapeutic effect
Goal: Increase flexibility, improve range of motion of the hip
Strap Stretching: Obtain a large firm strap or towel, stretch the hamstring muscle group by laying face up on the floor and raise your leg using the strap. This should be done until a light stretching feeling can be felt. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. You may vary the stretch by pulling your leg out to the side (for the adductors) or across your body (for the ITB). Care and caution must be taken when performing these stretching interventions.
Goal: Allow the hip to function in its’ available range of motion, warm-up the hip soft tissue prior to exercise
Standing Hip Openers: Stand up straight and tall,, move your hip to a bend position, then change direction to the side. Imagine that you are opening up the front of your hip.
Goal: Increase your hip strength and power ability.
Glut Pulls: Obtain a resistance band or use a weight stack, place the band/cord low and secured on a surface, stand on your L leg, bend forward while holding the band/cord in the R hand, pull backwards, and pinch your gluteal muscles together.
Side Planks: Lay on your side and elbow, raise your body up so it is in a straight line, hold for 10-60 seconds depending on how long you can hold proper form.
I encourage you, to use the information as a jumping off point. If you do need further instructions, please consult a sports medicine professional. As a caution do not perform the above exercises if you are not familiar with the exercises or are uncertain in any way. Safety and form are extremely important when it comes to utilizing the above strategies correctly.
Dr. Merson is a Physical Therapist at Boston Sports Medicine