Stretching for Tight Hips

Have you ever thought that maybe your hips are stopping you from climbing higher grades? If your range of movement in your hips is limited, then it is also going to limit the moves & positions you can achieve on the wall.

As you may know, the hip is a ball & socket joint; these types of joints are the most mobile in the body even though it doesn’t always feel that way! 

To improve the quality & longevity of your hips, you need to start by acquiring strength within your end ranges. Once this is obtained, you can focus on opening up those end ranges even more while simultaneously gaining strength there.

BEFORE you climb you want to warm up by activating the muscles & firing them up, so they are full of spring & elasticity. 

Below are Five great exercises for improving your hip mobility. 

  • The Pancake

  • Figure 4s

  • The Sunbaking Frog

  • Happy Baby

  • Steps Ups

  • The Pretzel

The Pancake 

Sit up tall on your bottom with your legs separated as far as tolerable, knees facing the sky and your arms straight up above your head. Take a breath into the sides of your belly and brace your core, reach up high above your head keeping the arms beside your ears while hinging slowly at the hips bringing your belly button down towards the floor.

When you get to your end range without losing any form, then stay here and do small pulses. Keep bracing your core while letting yourself exhale & top up 20% of your full breathe. When you are finished, recover to starting position on a full exhale.


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Dosage for beginners is10 x pulses at your bottom range, keeping the whole body engaged. Recover to the starting position for 3s but don’t relax. Repeat three more times, trying to get lower for each set of pulses. 

Tips 

  • If you struggle to get into this position, prop yourself up on a yoga block of weight plates just under your sit bones. 

  • Don’t let your knees roll down to the floor, create your tension by squeezing your glutes and externally rotating your legs to keep them from dropping down. 

  • Keep a nice straight spine, avoid any round of the back. 

  • Make sure your knees are locked out, and knee caps pulled up 

  • Try Pointing your toes or flexing; both positions can be explored


h2 style="white-space:pre-wrap;">Figure 4’s 

Start sitting up tall with both feet flat on the floor, legs bent at 90deg & your belly button drawing in. Make sure your feet are wide enough so that when you internally rotate 1 leg, the knee can touch the floor and not end up on top of your other foot. 

Once in position, start by placing both knees on the ground to the left. Using your glutes & pressing the left leg into the floor, lift your bottom off the ground & extend your right hip by squeezing the right glute tight. Your right heel can lift off to help bring that right hip around. Lower yourself with control onto your left bum cheek and smoothly bring yourself back to the starting position. Repeat this to the other side. 


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Dosage: Move continuously through this non-stop for 1 minute. Have a break and repeat 3 - 4 more times 

Tips 

  • If you are struggling with getting yourself up, you could try elevating your bottom with a yoga block or weight plate. To help counterbalance yourself hold your arms out in front of you.


h2 style="white-space:pre-wrap;">The Sunbaking Frog 

Laying on your back place the soles of your feet together and let your knees relax down to the floor. You can hang out in this nice gentle stretch for up to 5 minutes. 

To turn this position into more of an active stretch/mobility exercise, you can use your own lower body & core strength to pull your knees down to the floor. 

Start by drawing your belly button down towards the floor, contract your glutes and slightly “tuck your tail under” (posterior tilt). Hold this tension throughout your body, fighting for those knees to go down for 10 seconds and relax for 3s repeat four times. 


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The Sunbaking Frog with a partner 

Setup exactly the same as the solo version but this time instead of using your strength to pull your knees down to the floor, you will be pressing your knees up into your partner’s’ hands. 

Partners place your hands on the inside of the ‘stretchers’ knees, don’t apply any pressure yet. The person laying on the floor is going to press into the partners’ hands with their knees as hard as they can for 6 seconds. 

The partner will maintain the same position, not letting their legs close or open up. This is called an isometric hold. After 6 seconds, the stretcher will relax, and the partner will gently apply a small amount of pressure on the knees to give a gentle passive stretch.


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After 10 seconds of passive stretching, the stretcher will go straight into the active stretch by pressing their knees up into the partners’ hands again. You can do this process 3-4 times over. 

Tips 

  • PARTNERS-DO NOT BOUNCE OR PRESS HARD SUDDENLY IN THIS POSITION. EVERYTHING SHOULD BE DONE SLOW AND GENTLY. 

  • When in the passive stretch the stretcher should be completely relaxed, succumbing to the stretch. 

  • The partner should only be stretching them at a discomfort level of 7-8 out of 10. (Especially if you are not used to this type of stretching). 

  • Communicate with your partner


h2 style="white-space:pre-wrap;">Happy Baby 

Lay down on your back and bring your knees up towards your chest. With your hands hold onto the outer edges of your feet or if you can’t quite reach hold onto your ankles. 

You’ll want to keep your feet flat as if you could walk on the ceiling. Gently start to pull down on your feet, bringing the elbows towards the floor. You also want to gently push up into your hands to create just a little bit of resistance. 

Your forearms should hug your legs. Bring your knees towards your armpits, and at the same time, you want to be pressing your tailbone down towards the ground so that your whole spine is flat on the floor. Keep your shoulders down away from your ears, chest nice and open and your neck flat on the floor.

You can hold this pose for 5-15 full breaths into your belly. 


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h2 style="white-space:pre-wrap;">Step-Ups 

Working the eccentric phase Using a low step (at least to start with) stand beside it and place your foot on top with your leg at 45 degree angle. 

Place your arms straight out in front of you. Shift your weight over onto the box and take a powerful step up to a straight supporting leg, pull your kneecaps up and squeeze your glutes to stabilise you. 

Then lower yourself back down to the floor slowly, allow yourself to move your hips back behind you and draw your belly button bracing your core as you come down. 

Start with taking a full 4 seconds to lower (this is called the eccentric phase). Do six reps on each side 3 times.


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h2 style="white-space:pre-wrap;">The Pretzel 

Sitting up on your bottom bend your left leg, internally rotate it and bring your left foot into your left butt cheek. Now externally rotate your right leg letting your knee drop out and bend your leg in so that your foot tucks into your crutch. 

If there are any sharp pains or high discomfort in the knee, then you should avoid this stretch. 


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If this position is comfortable, then lay back onto your elbows.if you are not getting a stretch in the quads or hip flexors, then squeeze your left glute and push your hip to the ceiling. 

To progress this even further gently lay yourself down, so your is back on the floor. 

Dosage 

Squeeze that left glute hard and push the hips up for 6 seconds, let it rest for 3 seconds and repeat four times. Gently bring yourself back up onto your elbows and swap legs, repeat on the other side.

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