You need your hips and your hips need you.
If your body was a company, then your hips would be the CMO (Chief Movement Officer). If they are not healthy enough to carry the load, other parts of your body have to pick up the slack.
Problem is, none of them are qualified to take over.
This inadequate compensation can lead to pain and discomfort throughout the rest of your body.
Signs that your hips might not be working well:
- chronic hip pain
- chronic back pain
- chronic knee pain
- general joint stiffness
What makes your hips not able to do their job?
The two big ones that many of us are dealing with these days:
- lack of activity
- excessive sitting
The bad news: Getting your hips back into shape is not easy and can be a slow process.
The good news: Getting your hips back into shape is simple. It’s just a matter of knowing what to do and doing it consistently.
My hope for you: that you want to be able to move well, often and pain-free and are willing to do the simple but hard work required.
This article will walk you through two of the most effective exercises for getting your hips moving well again.
Let’s dive in!
Goal #1: Get your hips back into those ranges of motion that they’ve lost.
Because your hips are a ball and socket joint, like your shoulders, they are designed to have a large range of motion.
The problem with sitting is that you get really good at moving your hips in one direction, forward and up, and bad moving in the others.
Exercise 1: 90/90
The biggest bang for your buck exercise out there to increase hip range of motion is the 90/90.
This has become one of the most popular hip mobility exercises because it lets you attack multiple areas at once.
Watch and follow along to this video to get into the 90/90 position.
The front leg is in external rotation while the back leg is in internal rotation. Both of these are hugely important, as many people with hip and back pain are lacking in one or both of these areas.
The magic of this position is found by doing it frequently throughout the day and staying in the position for at least a minute or two on each side.
Dr. Brink once told me a story of a patient of his who came to him with excruciating back pain after a bad fall. Among other things, Dr. Brink advised him to spend as much time in 90/90 during the day as possible.
The patient started slowly, doing 90/90 once or twice per day seeing small improvements. Seeing that little bit of progress was all it took. He went all in and started getting into 90/90 5, 6, 7 times a day.
After one year of consistently doing 90/90, he was able to backpack through the Grand Canyon again, this time with absolutely NO-PAIN.
Frequency and consistency are key.
The beauty of 90/90 is that when you first start, just sitting in it is enough. You can 90/90 while on a phone call, watching Netflix, listening to music, you name it.
Focusing on your breathing is also very important. Quick shallow breaths tense your body up, while slower deep breaths help your body stay loose and relaxed.
Maintaining slower deep breaths while in 90/90 is crucial to getting your hips to loosen up into this position.
- Sit in 90/90 as often as possible during the day for at least 1-2 minutes each side.
- Focus on keeping
- an upright posture.
- Maintain deep and relaxing breathing throughout.
Goal #2: Learn to control the new ranges of motion.
Now that we’ve reintroduced those lost ranges of motion to our hips with the 90/90, it’s time to start working to control them.
Exercise 2: Hip CARs
The most effective way of doing this is with hip CARs (Controlled Articular Rotations) aka hip circles.
This exercise involves actively moving your hip through the biggest range of motion you can. It sounds simple, but it can be extremely difficult because as you lose ranges of motion in your hip, you lose control of the muscles responsible for those ranges of motion. And waking those little guys up can be painful at first.
Check out these two videos demonstrating hip CARs. The first video shows quadruped (on your hands and knees) hip CARs and the second shows standing hip CARs. If balancing isn’t your strong suit, try the quadruped version.
The most important part of this exercise is to not compensate too much.
Your body wants to make everything you do as easy as possible.
Now, this is great if you’re trying to bust-a-move on the dance floor at your friend’s wedding, but it is decidedly less helpful when you are trying to regain control over your body.
Because of compensation, the key to making progress with this exercise is to go slow and try to keep the rest of your body still.
You don’t need to be perfect. Just the act of going slow and focusing on the movement will allow you to improve much quicker.
Going fast and compensating by arching your back or leaning your body forward gets the exercise done sooner and easier, but you get much less benefit from it.
You will not improve unless you make an effort to control the entire motion. This makes it much more difficult but is extremely important if you want to see progress and eventually have a healthy set of hips.
- Make the movement slow and controlled.
- Focus on quality over quantity.
Conclusion: Make Your Hips Happy!
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Have questions about new or chronic hip and back pain?
Request an appointment with Dr. Brink!
He is available for in-office, house-calls, and virtual appointments.
You don’t need to live in pain! Let us help you move well and pain-free.