If you’re one of the millions who spend a great amount of their day seated, or if you stand, shifting your weight from hip to hip, you may be at risk of poor hip stabilization. This can also happen with people who do regular cardio exercises and skip stabilization focus because they assume it’s built in to their workout. Do you cross your legs when you sit? I’ll bet it’s the same leg over leg each time. Believe it or not, the habit of crossing your legs at the hip (rather than the ankles) over time can contribute to hip imbalance that can radiate and include the spine and surrounding muscles.
By integrating the following stabilization exercises with your regular workouts, the three main gluteal muscles (minimus, medius, and maximus) that help support your hips and lower spine will learn to engage or “fire” more efficiently, improving hip stabilization.
Hip Flexor Stretch: Get down on your right knee with the left leg in front of you at a 90-degree angle, heel slightly forward of the knee. Place your left hand on your left knee, extending your right arm straight out in front. Keep your torso straight as you press your hips forward, getting an extension through your right hip flexor. Reach your right arm up overhead to get more extension through your torso. Repeat other leg.
Hip Bridge: Lie on your back, feet flat about 12–18” away from you, with knees bent toward ceiling. Slowly lift both hips toward the ceiling, pause at the top, then ease back down to the floor. While lifting your hips, refrain from “gripping” or squeezing your glutes. Variations on this include lifting your toes, which engages the hamstrings more; foot elevation (no higher than a chair seat); and bringing feet and knees together, then lifting. Also try lifting just one leg while your hips are in the lifted position. This puts the focus on one side, really firing the glutes.
Clamshells: Lie on one side with knees bent at 90-degree angle. Hips, knees, and feet should be stacked. Lift the top leg 6–8 inches, then return, keeping the foot and knee at the same height at the same time. This engages the abductor muscles, gluteus medius, and minimus.
Here’s to better hip health. If you’d like more information or have more questions, please ask one of our trainers. They love to help!