Most people I know or have trained have tight hips. Two key muscles that play a part in tight hips are the hip flexors and piriformis (the pocket muscle as it sits where your back pocket is on jeans). This post will help you release that tension and find relief not only in the hips but the low back as well. The hip flexors attach to the spine, see figure 1, so they can cause low back pain without you even realizing it. And…the hip flexors and piriformis never really get a break as they are used so much, and get pretty tight just from sitting, walking, or running. All activities of daily living.
Figure 1 Hip Flexors
As you see in figure 2 above the piriformis muscle can also entrap the sciatic nerve. Most times releasing this muscle can help with sciatic nerve pain. Always consult your physician before trying any exercises I recommend.
Hip Flexor Stretch
- From a lunge position, with one leg forward and one leg back, the back leg should be on the ground with the quad muscle above the knee on the floor not the knee joint itself, figure 1.
- Keep the front knee over the ankle and press the back hip forward, creating a stretch in front of the hip on the back leg.
- Squeeze your buttocks and hold for 5 seconds, relax and exhale as you push the hip on the back leg a little more forward, creating a long stretch in the front of the hip.
- Hold for 5 seconds and switch sides.
- Repeat 3-5 times.
5-second contract, 5 seconds relax or hold for 10 seconds.
Hold for 20 – 30 seconds.
Hold a stick or hold onto the wall for balance.
To increase the stretch, lift the arm up and away from the side you are stretching, figure 4.
Reduces anterior pelvic tilt, which in turn, reduces back pain.
Opens up the hips allowing for better movement walking or running.
Piriformis Release with Ball
- Sit on the floor with knees bent and place a ball under the right hip (where you back pocket would be, figure 5. The best ball is a yoga tune-up alpha ball, figure 7. You can also use a tennis ball or a soft rubber ball about the size of a tennis ball. Be careful not to use a ball that is too hard as your body will not be able to relax and release the piriformis muscle.
- Roll the hip around on the ball in small circles until you find a trigger point. When you find a point of tenderness, hold it for 5 seconds and then release.
- Continue to do this for 30-60 seconds and switch sides.
- If you need more pressure, place the opposite leg across the thigh as in figure 6.
- Opens the hips and pelvis.
- Reduces lower back pain.
- Can relieve sciatic nerve pain.
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