Joint mobility is something which is often ignored by most of us, however, it is an inherent mistake to make.
With the flexibility of our entire bodies relying on the health and wellness of our joints, it’s surprising that very few people know, or even care about looking after their joints, and fail to do all that is necessary to maintain optimum range.
Anyone at any age needs the ability to use their limbs with a full range of movement and gaining full control of our bodies through encouraging healthy joints is vital. Whether you are a competitive athlete or just starting out with exercise and movement, you need to regain and maintain a full range of joint movement to perform at your very best. Poor joint mobility means a poor workout, which in turn means poor results and could even result in an injury.
The more focus you place on improving your joint mobility, the more your range of movement will improve, and that rule particularly applies to the hips. We no longer use our hips the way nature intended and as we increasingly spend more and more hours in a sitting position, we are limiting the flexibility of our hips thus limiting our natural range of movement.
Although designed for activity and mobility, we are less inclined to use the hips when lifting or even performing simple day to day tasks. We limit our capabilities to singular movements such as walking, running, or climbing stairs but our hips are at the core of our strength; they are a catapult for movement and when we ignore the needs of our hip joints, it’s left to the knees and the lower back to pick up the slack.
Good hip flexibility encourages correct movement, optimum function and helps to prevent everyone’s worst nightmare; injury. Lower back problems can be the downfall of any number of athletes. It can be debilitating at times and excruciatingly painful leading to unwanted breaks in your training regime. While many don’t seem to understand just how important hip flexibility is, they also don’t understand how, in just a few stretches per day, a fuller range of must-have motions will have no end of benefits to your end athletic performance.
For anyone who is looking to actively improve agility, it’s easy to overlook the importance of developing and maintaining good hip flexibility. Many believe that developing skills of endurance is a key factor to improving on what they already have, however having a vast array of hip movement under your belt adds not only strength, but also an undisputed power to your sporting capabilities.
Follow this link to a little video I put together showing a variety of stretches focused on the hip area. A few have been based around yoga postures as I have found these to be extremely beneficial through my own practise.
Some may take a bit of playing around with as there is never going to be a universal fit for everyone, but try to settle and treat them as static stretches and only adjusting if the body invites you to. Never force yourself into a position that the body isn’t ready for as this could result in injury.
A suggested time for each stretch would be anywhere in the region of 30 seconds to 5 minutes depending on your experience, imbalances and, of course, discomfort tolerance!
I think it’s safe to say the majority of us find stretching fairly uncomfortable, so to aid relaxation and to help the body release more effectively, focus on breathing rather than discomfort; long, deep inhales and smooth, complete exhales. The body needs to feel as calm as possible throughout. The further the mind drifts towards discomfort, the more likely the body will remain tense and gaining progress will be almost impossible.
So, plenty of options to help open up the hips, or maybe just some fresh variations to add to your existing maintenance routine. Like myself, you may find imbalances from stretch to stretch on each side of the body. Nothing to worry about, just focus more on the ones that feel restricted and things should free up and balance out for you.