Sitting annihilates supple hips. Your body’s primary objective is to conserve vital energy for reproduction and survival. It’s therefore constantly adapting so you can do the things you do most often, as efficiently as possible.
This means if you spend a lot of time sitting, unfortunately, you’ll lose a good chunk of mobility in your joints, especially in your hips. In day to day life, you may not notice that you have tight hips. But when you get in the water you should notice how, where, and when they start to slow you down. The complexity, diversity, and speed of movement that you demand of your body, as well as the positions you need to get into, are going to shine a light on any restrictions and impingements that have built up.
In my last article, I recommended six yoga poses that stretch and strengthen the musculature in and around the hip joints. In these exercises, we’re going to go deeper and focus on freeing up the joint capsules themselves.
How Is Mobility Training Different From Flexibility Training?
“The joint capsule is a ligamentous sac…that surrounds the joint. This sac creates an internal environment for freedom of movement. It also helps create stability, keeping the joint from overstretching.” Dr. Kelly Starrett, Becoming A Supple Leopard
Similarly to muscles, the ligaments that support your joints also adapt and get tight when they are kept in the same position for prolonged periods, like when you sit. Therefore, you need to consistently move your joints through full range of motion to maintain optimal mobility, loosen up existing restrictions and ensure that your joints are in the correct position.
7 Ways to Move Your Hips Like a Yogi
Here are 7 exercises that can help you create space in the hip joints. This will improve your agility, increase your power and reduce your risk of injury. They incorporate rotation, lateral movement and extension/flexion.
-Practice each exercise for the prescribed number of reps and then hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds.
-Focus on controlled movements, exploring the end ranges of your motion.
-Try to get into all the tight spots.
-Breathe in and out your nose throughout.
You can do these exercises in the morning to loosen up your hips, throughout the day and especially before you go surfing.
Taking your hips through a full range of motion pre-surf has a few additional benefits. You circulate blood flow to your muscles and joints, demonstrate to your central nervous system where it is safe for your muscles and joints to go, and then challenge and strengthen this increased range of motion out in the water.
1. Seated hip circles
5-8 reps each way
2. Tabletop hip circles
5-8 reps each way
4. Half monkeys
5-8 sets each side
3. Spider planks
3-5 sets each side
5. Lying leg circles
3-5 each way
7. Windscreen wipers
Please be careful
These exercises are not suitable if you are hypermobile. In this case, please focus on strengthening the musculature surrounding the joints and avoid taking them to their end ranges of motion.
If you discover that you are incredibly tight, please consider working with a physical therapist who can take you through more vigorous mobilization techniques. You should combine these techniques with soft tissue work, stretching and strength training.
Note: As a great resource for surfers, the author has just released the Yoga 15: Hip Mobility series, 15 x 15-minute videos to loosen up tight hips, increase hip mobility and build strength and stability in the hip joints.