In this blog, we are going to look at all things hip mobility. This is a term that has been thrown around for a long time so let’s break it down and look at:
- What is hip mobility
- The difference between hip mobility and flexibility
- Hip mobility issues
- Exercises to improve hip mobility and flexibility
What is hip mobility
Our hips are very mobile joints that are designed to move in almost every direction. With a shape that looks a little bit like an egg in an egg cup, it is meant to flex, extend and rotate during many of the tasks and activities we carry out in our daily lives. Hip mobility refers to our ability to move our hips in all of these directions freely and easily. Most of us have felt tight glutes, quads and hamstrings and as we have seen time and time again – this stiffness is often a weakness in the muscle.
Hip Mobility vs Hip Flexibility
It’s easy to get confused by the difference between mobility and flexibility. Flexibility is the ability of our muscles to stretch and lengthen, while mobility refers to how easily and comfortably we can move our joints throughout range. While these might seem similar, often people who are incredibly flexible can still feel stiffness around their hips because they haven’t got the strength to control that movement through the entire range of motion.
What causes hip mobility issues
So how do we lose flexibility and mobility in our hips?
As with everything else in our bodies, mobility is often ‘use it or lose it’. Our lifestyles often leave us sitting for hours at a time at work, at school or in cars. When we spend prolonged time sitting like this, our muscles and tendons become too used to this position and can shorten and tighten as a result. We don’t have enough variability in our lifestyles where our hips are exposed to all the different angles and positions they are designed to move into. Without this variability and different types of movement we will lose this mobility and can end up with injuries.
Hip Mobility Issues
Sometimes when we ask our bodies to perform tasks that we do not have the mobility to perform correctly, we can run into issues in the hip and surrounding areas. Structural changes such as hip impingement without adequate mobility can stress structures in the joint such as the labrum (a small piece of cartilage in our hip joint). Weakness on the outside of our hip and an inability to control the hip while running can increase the stresses on our groin, lower back or even knee resulting in pain or injury. Hip mobility is really important to making sure load is dispersed appropriately across our joints and that the head of our femur (thigh bone) sits nicely in our hip joint (again think egg in a cup!).
How to improve hip mobility
So how can we improve our hip mobility?
As we mentioned with mobility, it’s use it or lose it, so you have to be consistent. Regular mobility work throughout the week and strengthening through your entire range will help ensure you are able to maintain control of that joint in all movements. On top of this, our muscles often work in pairs and when we contract or shorten one muscle, the opposite muscle will extend and lengthen so we can use this to our advantage and target specific muscle groups to gain mobility in specific areas.
Try the following exercises to help keep your hips moving the way they should
Top 3 exercises for hip mobility
- Controlled Hip Rotations
- Hip Shifts
- Hip Flex Holds
Top 3 exercises for hip Flexibility
- 90/90 Holds
- Hamstring Extenders
- Couch Stretch
This Article was written by Diarmuid Hegarty, Clinical Director ReSync Physiotherapy, MICP MSc Physio, MSc Sports Med, NSCA. Our team are here to answer any questions or queries you may have about your pain/injury. We offer Free Consultation for people who are unsure if physiotherapy is right for them.