Family Sports & Fitness
If you suffer from chronic hamstring pulls, low back pain and/or knee problems, the culprit could be your hips.
Tight or underdeveloped hip flexors, weak glutes, underdeveloped lateral hip muscles plus tight hip joint rotation cause imbalance in the rest of the body – centering mainly on your lower extremities. Fix the hips and you’ll most always fix the other problems.
PROBLEM: Tight Hip Flexors
These muscles and tendons are located in the front of your hips. To test for tightness, lie on your back and pull one knee to your chest with the other leg extended flat against the floor. If the extended leg pops up as your bent knee approaches your chest, you have tight hip flexors. Test both legs.
This two-in-one exercise loosens up your tight hip flexors plus stretches your glutes and upper hamstrings too. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds and perform five reps, then switch sides and repeat.
1. Find a solid box or platform higher than knee height and place one foot on the
top of the box. Your top knee should be bent to greater than 90 degrees.
2. Slowly lean forward, placing more weight on the platform.
3. Keep the leg you’re standing on, the weight bearing leg, fairly straight as you
lean forward but don’t lock your knee.
4. You will start to feel a stretch in the front of the leg you’re standing on. You may
also feel a stretch in your glutes and in the middle and back of your thighs.
5. BONUS: To work your hip flexors and groin area, hold the stretch and rotate your
hips slightly (and slowly) towards the bent knee.
PROBLEM: Tight Hip Rotators
These critical performance muscles are located deep in the hip. Sit on the floor with your back straight and cross your right leg over your left knee, placing your foot on the knee or lower thigh. If your right knee pops up and isn’t parallel or close to parallel to the floor, you have tight rotators. Check both hips.
1. Lie on your back and bend one leg as if you were going to cross it over the other.
2. Use both hands to grab onto the bent knee and ankle of that leg.
3. Pull your bent leg up towards your chest, being careful to apply even pressure so
you don’t torque your knee.
4. Pull evenly until you your ankle and knee evenly until you feel a deep stretch in
your glutes, then hold for 20 seconds.
5. Repeat 5 times and switch legs.
PROBLEM: “Sleeping” Glutes
When your gluteus muscles aren’t working as they should, your hamstring muscles have to work harder. If you sit most of the day, you’ve identified the root cause of sleepy glutes and the problems that inactivity causes: tight/strained hamstrings, hip pain, low back pain, and less strength when you work out. To check your glutes for this problem, lie on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Keep your back flat against the floor and press your heels into the floor and press your hips up for about 20 reps. If your hamstrings feel tight or burn more than your glutes do, you’ve confirmed that your glutes are sleeping. Almost everyone will have this issue.
Perform this exercise the same way you tested for sleeping glutes.
1. Hold each bridge for 5 seconds and squeeze your butt muscles with each rep.
2. Advance to bringing your heels closer to your glutes for the bridge.
3. Perform this exercise daily for a week and you’ll see near instant improvement.
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