4 Ways To Fight Long-term Tight Hips
Nov 04, 2022
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You probably don't care too much about your butt. Until they start getting hurt. And then it's hard to think about anything else. This is because the hips are one of the largest joints in the body and help you stand, sit, squat, twist and turn by bending, stretching and rotating. As a result, they will suffer great wear and tear.
When your hips start to get sore, it's easy to think you've done too much at the gym. But most hip tightness isn't the result of an injury. "For most people, hip muscle tightening is usually a result of holding a certain position for a long time each day or using the same bad body mechanics all day long," said Christopher Gage Riady, science education content manager for the National Athletic Council.
The ringleader sat down. That's why. When you sit, your gluteal flexors (the muscles in the front of your thigh that run through your hip joint) get shorter. At the same time, the hip extensor muscles in the back of your thigh elongate, creating an imbalance. It may not sound so bad, but if you spend eight hours a day at your desk, another hour or two in the car, and a few more hours on the couch reading or watching TV, your hips can easily curl up 12 hours a day. If you sleep on your side, that number could rise to 20 hours (yikes!).
The good news is there are steps you can take to repair the damage. The first is to separate sedentary activity from frequent activity. For example, get up and fold a load of laundry, check your mail, or empty the dishwasher. You can also stand while texting, or walk around the room while talking on the phone. Another strategy is to change your sleeping position. For example, if you usually sleep on your side, try lying on your back or stomach (at least at first). Sure, you may do cartwheels, but overall you'll reduce the amount of time your hips bend.
And finally, sports. This regimen, designed by Gagliardi, is a great way to stretch and strengthen your hip muscles for greater flexibility and support. Before you begin, be sure to do 5 to 10 minutes of light to moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking or biking.
Move 1: Kneel hip flexors, stretching.
Repeat 2-4 times for 60 seconds on each leg.
Start by kneeling with your knees facing your hips. Slide your right foot forward so that your right knee is at a 90 degree Angle with your right ankle. Next, place your hands on your right thigh to help keep your spine straight. Pull your shoulders down and back without arching your lower back. Stiffen the spine with abs and keep the pelvis stable. Lean forward to your right hip while keeping your left knee on the floor (don't let your pelvis rotate forward).
To increase the stretch, squeeze and contract the left gluteus muscle. Stretch until mildly uncomfortable but painless for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Move 2: Cobra.
Repeat 2-4 times for 60 seconds.
Lie face down on your stomach with your palms on the floor and your hands facing forward, right under your shoulders. Then, extend your legs, bend your ankles, and leave the top of your foot. Exhale gently, pressing your hips toward the floor while pulling your chest off the floor. You should feel your lower back bent and your chest and abdominal muscles extended. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Gently relax your upper body and lower it to the floor.
Move 3: Hip bridge.
Each set of 2-4, 8 to 12 repetitions.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor at hip distance. Gently contract your abdominal muscles so that your lower back is level with the floor. Exhale and contract your hips, lifting them off the floor without arching your back. Press your heels against the floor to increase stability. Inhale slowly, lower your upper body to the floor and return to the starting position.
Move 4: Romanian deadlift.
2-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your back straight and knees slightly bent. Slowly lean your upper body forward so that your arms are straight down. At the same time, lift your left leg back, keeping it parallel to the floor in a straight line. Lean forward at a comfortable distance and keep your back straight. Slowly return to stance, pinch your right hip and tuck your left leg in. Repeat on the other side.
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