Movement and flexibility have become challenging in the digital and gadget era of the last few decades and the recent pandemic. As a result, several vital body muscles remain unused for a long time, leading to fatigue and exhaustion. In addition, hip joint pain and spine issues are common in desk jobs, as we move these muscles the least while working. Therefore, specific exercises are suitable for us to increase the movement and flexibility of these muscles.
Many of us experience pain and discomfort in the lower back and hip joints. Following these exercises regularly will increase the hip strength of your body.
Hip Exercises: Introduction
Hip muscles are the most vital parts of the human skeletal system. It builds up your body’s core and is the most reliable muscle for posture maintenance. The hip muscles work in coordination with the muscles of your spine, neck, shoulder, and lower limbs. The major muscles of the hip are gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. They help shift the body’s overall weight to avoid pressure on organs. In addition, it stabilises the pelvic region, improving overall mobility.
Several muscles aid in hip movement. These come under five major categories: Flexion, extension, adduction, medial rotation, and lateral rotation muscles.
Anatomically, flexion is a movement wherein the thigh, or lower limb muscles move closer to the abdomen. The muscles that aid in this type of movement in the hip area are as follows.
- Psoas assisted by iliacus
- Adductors Longus
- Tensor Fasciae Latae
The extension is the opposite of flexion. The muscles that bring about this movement in the hip are as follows.
- Gluteus Maximus
- Inferior Portion of the Adductor Magnus
The 4-5 muscles of the adductor group are in the pelvis region. As a result, the thigh moves closer to the body’s midline. The hip muscles involved in this movement are as follows.
This movement happens when the legs are wide open to the lateral side. The muscles involved are.
- Lateral Rotator Group of Muscles
- Gluteus Maximus
- The inferior portion of the Adductor Magnus
Medial Rotation is the opposite of Lateral Rotation. The muscles involved are.
- Gluteus Medius
- Gluteus Maximus
- Adductors Brevis
- Adductors Longus
- Superior Portion of the Adductor Magnus
All these muscles have a unique function but act in a coordinated manner to bring about the hip’s movement, mobility, and flexibility.
The ICN Note
Your hip movement involves all five muscle groups. Hence, it is essential to work towards strengthening and stretching these muscles for their smooth functioning. If you pay equal attention to all, you can be free from any hip-movement-related issues.
Best Exercises to Increase Hip Strength
While talking about hip strength, the principal focus should be on increasing the flexibility and building the strength of the hip muscles mentioned above. The significant muscles are the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus. These muscles are involved in almost all the movements of the hip. Therefore, we mention here a few exercises on the same subject.
This exercise would require a resistance band. Opt for a thicker band for best results. The steps involved are here.
- Settle yourself laterally (right or left side) on the mat by tying a resistance band on the lower thighs.
- Lift your top leg to the highest point and pause for a few seconds.
- Revert your leg to the normal position.
- You can do about three sets with 15 repetitions.
- Repeat it with the other leg.
This exercise not only increases hip strength but also builds and stabilises the pelvic region, thus preventing exhaustion, injury, and weakness.
Straight Leg Extension
This exercise aids in strengthening the hip muscles, primary flexors and extension muscles. The steps are as follows:
- Lie down on your back in a straight anatomical position.
- Slightly tilt the legs so that the leg sole is on the ground.
- Lift one of your legs with the other being straight, forming a triangle.
- Keep it in the same position for a few seconds and repeat with the other leg.
- You can do three sets with ten repetitions in each.
This exercise is specific to the quadriceps muscle and hip muscle. The steps are as follows:
- First, stand erect with your palm and fingers facing down.
- Extend your right leg. It will create a 90-degree angle.
- Next, revert your right leg and repeat it with your left leg.
- You can do multiple sets for 2-3 minutes.
Regular exercise stabilises and strengthens your entire lower back, hips, and limbs.
It is a changed version of squats granting more benefits. It involves a resistance band. The steps are listed below.
- Take up the squat position with the resistance band around your lower thighs.
- Now instead of squatting, start moving sideways in the same position.
- The steps should be small, and the count should be around 10-15.
- After completing it on one side, move to the other to balance the effort.
It is the only exercise that strengthens and activates all your hip muscles.
- Lie down on your back in an elevated position. It would help if you bent the knees, and the soles should be flat on the ground.
- Start squeezing your glutes and pushing your hips in the air.
- After a few seconds, lower the hips and start repeating.
- Twelve repetitions for three sets are enough to begin with.
This exercise focuses on all the muscles of the lower back. It would require a dumbbell.
- Hold a dumbbell with both your hands in front of your chest.
- Place an elevated surface near and start stepping on the elevated surface one leg at a time.
- Stand straight on the elevated surface. Then, move down from the elevated surface and repeat this motion.
- You can do fifteen repetitions for three sets.
Best Exercises to Increase Hip Mobility
First, you must focus on strengthening your hip muscles. The next step is increasing the flexibility of the hip muscles and lower back as strength and flexibility define fitness.
Some of the best exercises are below.
This exercise aids in stretching and mobility. In addition, all the hip muscles get activated because of this exercise.
- Stand erect with your legs and arms relaxed.
- Stretch your left leg so both legs are a triangle with the floor.
- Now bend your right knee slightly to some angle and pause for a few seconds.
- You can follow this in two sets with fifteen reps on each leg.
Single-leg Romanian Deadlifts
This exercise focuses on improving the balance and mobility of your hip and hamstrings.
- First, bend your right knee to a certain angle and hold a dumbbell in your left hand.
- With an erect spine, lift your left leg
- Come back to the initial position
- Repeat this for both the legs
- You can do three sets of fifteen reps
Knee to Chest Position
This exercise is undoubtedly good for patients having arthritis. It ensures maximum flexibility in the lower part of your body.
- Lie down on your back
- Bring your knees to your chest
- Wrap your arms over the knees for extra support
- Hold this position for 30-40 seconds
- Repeat this stretch around 3-4 times
Floor Hip Flexor
This exercise aids in the stretching of your lower back and glutes. It is like a knee-chest exercise.
- Lie down on your back
- Lift your right knee to the chest
- Repeat this process with the left knee too
- Hold each knee for around 40 seconds
- You can do this stretching about 3-5 times
This exercise is considered the advanced one on the list. It aids in the mobility of the thighs as well.
- Settle yourself on the edge of a chair
- Bend your knees and lift your left leg as high as possible
- Repeat it with the right leg
- Both right and left leg stretching is one rep
- Do approx three sets of 15 reps
It is the most common exercise suggested to everyone with a tight hip. It is the easiest one to do.
- Sit down on a flat surface
- Bring your ankles close to the pelvic region or core
- Start moving your knees synchronously
- Start with slow movements and then fasten it gradually
- You can perform this exercise for around 1-2 minutes as a warm-up session.
Ways to Improve Weak or Tight Hips
Weak or tight hips mean there is an issue with the flexor muscles of the hip. It may be a problem in walking, standing, and even sitting.
There are several causes of stiffening or weakening of hip muscles. The major ones are:
- Maintaining the same posture for long hours (precisely a desk job)
- Arthritis (osteoarthritis)
- Lack of physical activity (mainly after surgery): degeneration of muscle
- Improper diet
Difference Between Tight and Weak Hips
Both tight and weak hips are because of flexor muscles. They have a common cause: prolonged hours of sitting in the same position. While weak hips only affect the hip area, tight hips are associated with lower back and spine issues.
Cure for Weak Hips
Several exercises may strengthen particular weak hips. You can strengthen weak hips if you practise these exercises regularly.
By the name, it may sound like climbing a mountain. But fret not; that is not the case with this exercise. You can perform this exercise at home too.
- Assume a plank position and face downwards
- Slowly bring your right knee to your chest and stretch your left leg
- Repeat this procedure with your left knee too
- Remember, the more you try, the stronger your muscles become
- You can repeat the cycle for 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps on each leg
- You can use a slider to avoid friction on slippery surfaces
Wall Psoas Hold (No wall Support)
This exercise is specifically for hip movement.
- Stand erect with legs slightly apart.
- Bend the knee and lift the leg above the floor to around hip level.
- Balance the leg for 40 seconds
- Repeat the same procedure on the other leg
These are the major exercises focusing on weakening hip flexor muscles. Apart from this, opting for resistance band training strengthens the hips.
Cure for Tight Hips
Although the cause for weak and tight hips is the same, the treatment for both is not the same, i.e. the exercises that cure weak hips can be dangerous for tight hips. Therefore, a few exercises to cure tight hips are listed below.
The squat is the most common exercise for all hip-related problems. In addition, It ensures strength, mobility, and flexibility. It is an all-in-one package. These are easy to perform as well.
- Stand straight with feet spread slightly apart and arms bent slightly as if in a running position.
- Now bend the knees in the front and push the glutes backwards
- Move down till the knees are in line with feet and arms to the chest level
- Now get up with no support
- You can change the requirement according to your workout. But the basic level is 10-15 reps.
Eventually, when the flexibility of your hips increases, you can add weights to the squats.
Apart from this important exercise, you can also perform lunges, and straight leg raises for tight hips.
It is important to cure tight and weak hips as soon as possible, as they are detrimental and can cause several disadvantages like the following.
- Lower Back Pain
- Reduced Mobility
- Improper Walking Style
- Chronic Hip diseases
- Muscle Atrophy/ degeneration
- Lower Leg injuries
- Limited Mobility
The ICN Note
Several exercises can help you improve your weak or tight hips. Exercises are a great prevention strategy and can be a preventive measure in the initial stages. But, suppose you are experiencing severe pain in the lower back and negligible mobility. In that case, it is best to see a physician.
The hips are the most significant part of the human body. A slight change in their structure can lead to dire consequences, as you may not even be able to walk correctly. Regular exercise and a proper diet are the only solutions to maintain hip strength. Building hip strength means increasing the overall core strength of your body. In addition, the hip is the only connection between the upper and lower body. Thus, it is wise to maintain it with proper care.