By: Diane Foley
The stretches in this article will help alleviate stiff, tight hips. This is the fourth in the series that focuses on five of the most common muscle groups that will tighten up when you sit for long periods of time. Your Health — A Few Simple Moves was the first article that introduced you to the risks of sitting and provided stretches for the neck muscles. Simple Stretches to Reduce the Pain of Sitting, the second article, shared chest muscle stretches. Lower Back — Stretches to Make a Difference, was the third article. This article will focus on the hip muscles.
NOTE: Speak to your physician before you make changes to your health care regime. Also remember, please do not bounce during stretching. This can cause muscle fibers to tear. If stretching causes pain, discontinue exercise and if anything hurts when you do it, please stop immediately.
Front Hip Muscles (hip flexors):
As we grow older and sit more, the front of the hips become stiff and tight. Everyone should incorporate this stretch into their everyday lives and do it several times a day. If you are sitting for prolonged periods of time, it is extra important to stretch the front of the hips.
Lunge and Hold Stretch:
- Begin by standing with your legs a few inches apart.
- Take a comfortable step forward with your right leg and bend the front leg into a lunge. Be sure to keep the front knee in line or slightly behind the forefoot. This will ensure the knee is in a safe position to support your body weight. If you have trouble balancing, do this exercise next to a stable object like a wall or chair.
- Keeping the hips facing forward, transfer your weight onto the front foot until you feel a stretch in the front of the hip of the back leg. Be careful not to arch your back during this exercise. If you do not feel a stretch, try squeezing your bottom together and then transferring your weight forward onto your front knee.
- Note: The back foot (heel) can come up slightly to allow the stretch in front of the hip.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then relax.
- Repeat on opposite side and perform 2-3 times each side.
The wonderful thing about stretching exercises, is that you can incorporate them into your schedule when it is most convenient for you. It may be taking a 5-10 minute break between taking care of the kids, or after having sat at work for several hours. Next week we will take a look at the last muscle group — the back of the legs which includes the hamstrings and calves. Which of the exercises presented in the series so far is your favorite?