Many of us are familiar with this routine: the alarm goes off, and we hop out of bed only to realize that we feel the remnants of the workout from the day before. This is especially true for those of us who enjoy challenging exercises even though we may no longer be in our twenties or thirties or…
A little background, my career as a fitness professional started when all of the music used for group fitness classes was on cassette tapes, and the years began with a 1. (NOTE: I earned my NASM Certified Personal Trainer credential in 2002). Now, as I’m rapidly approaching the half-century mark, I’m still extremely active with workouts ranging from barbell strength circuits to explosive kettlebell training to mountain biking. In other words, I’m still training hard and have no plans to slow down anytime soon.
However, there are a few things I have changed in my approach to fitness, and I want to share with you today is a focus on mobility. Specifically, how I start my day on those mornings when I feel the ‘benefits’ of the previous day’s workout by doing a specific sequence of moves designed to improve hip mobility and reduce low back tightness. This is also a great stretch sequence if you’re a road warrior and log a lot of miles in an airline seat. As an educator for a couple of top fitness companies, I travel internationally to speak at conferences and also do these stretches after a long flight because they feel so good.
The hips are the most mobile joints in the body; remaining in a seated position for too long could cause the flexor muscles on the front of the hips to become tight, which changes the position of the pelvis by creating an anterior tilt. If the pelvis tilts to the front of the body, it could cause low back pain as well as disrupt the function of other muscles up and down the kinetic chain. The hip mobility program below can help reduce the tightness of the muscles and restore the pelvis to its optimal position so you can experience pain-free movement throughout the day.
The offset position of the hands and knees creates a little rotation in the spine that helps to reduce tightness in the sacroiliac joint - where the spine meets the pelvis. If you spent a lot of time seated on a plane or in a car, this feels good.
Offset kneeling stretch
One of the things I learned from NASM is that if the hip flexor muscles become tight, they can pull the pelvis forward in an anterior tilt, which could cause discomfort in the low back. Placing the knee in a 90-degree angle will stretch both the hip flexors and adductors, helping to reduce tightness in the low back.
I learned this one from the happy baby pose in yoga and watching my kids when they were infants. Lying on your back puts the spine in a neutral position, rotating the hips while extending the spine can significantly improve their mobility and reduce the tightness. The sequence I follow is: inside-out for 10-12 reps, outside-in for 10-12 reps, then hold one knee while circling the other hip for 6-10 reps in each direction and then moving the second hip while holding the first one.
The gluteus maximus is the primary extensor of the hip joints. As it contracts, it causes the hip flexors to lengthen the result is that you are stretching your hip flexors while strengthening your glutes. Push the heels into the ground and pull your toes up towards your shin as you press your hips up to the ceiling.
Lying hip stretch
Stretching the hip at an angle while you press the other leg into the ground helps to lengthen all of the hips muscles allowing for greater mobility in the joints. Hold the stretch for 30-45 seconds on each leg.
As someone who has made a career helping others move while remaining extremely active myself, these mobility exercises are an essential part of my regular fitness routine. Once you try them, I’m sure they’ll become a part of yours as well.