The hips are one of the most important muscles in the body. Strong hips will help you maintain better balance and walk with ease. If your hips are feeling stiff, these seven stretching exercises can help loosen and strengthen your muscles.
1. Standing Hip Extensions
This exercise will work both your hips and your buttocks. With a few simple changes, you can increase the difficulty of the exercise if it becomes too easy.
- Begin by standing with your feet facing the back of a sturdy chair.
- Hold on to the top of the chair to maintain your balance.
- While holding the chair, move your right leg backwards while keeping it straight.
- Engage the abdominal muscles and keep the ribs lifted during the movement. Make sure your knee is as straight as possible.
- Return to the starting position.
- Perform 10 repetitions, and repeat the exercise on the opposite leg.
The chair will help you stay balanced while performing this exercise.
If you want to make the exercise more difficult, you can add ankle weights. Start with just a few pounds of weight, and work your way up. If you don’t have balance issues, you can try this exercise without weight and without holding on to a chair.
2. Hip Abductors
Strong hip abductors will help you maintain better balance. This simple exercise only requires a resistance band and a chair.
- Start by sitting down in a chair.
- Wrap your resistance band around your thighs and tie it together. If you have a round resistance band, you can carefully slide it up your legs so that it wraps around your thighs. The band should be sitting just above your knee.
- Spread your legs apart using your hips.
- Make sure that your back is straight and resting against the back of the chair.
This exercise mimics the hip abductor machine at the gym, and is a very effective way to strengthen your hips. You can modify this exercise in the future by choosing a stronger resistance band.
3. Standing Hip Flexor
The hip flexor muscles are small, but they have a big job: lifting and lowering your legs. Hip flexor exercises will not only work these muscles, but will also work your buttocks and hip abductors. All three areas are important for maintaining balance.
- Start by standing up straight with your feet facing the back of a sturdy chair.
- Hold on to the top of the chair with both of your hands.
- Keep your right leg straight, and lift the left leg toward your chest while keeping the knee bent. Bring the knee as close to the chest as possible.
- Make sure that your back is straight while performing this exercise. You can bend the knee slightly on the straight leg to alleviate some of the pressure on your knees.
If you want to make this exercise a little more advanced, try adding ankle weights. Start off with light weight, like two pounds, and work your way up to heavier weight.
4. Hip Marches
When performed properly, hip marches will strengthen the hips and the abdominal muscles. This simple exercise requires nothing more than a chair to perform.
- Begin by sitting down in the chair with your feet flat on the floor.
- Lift your left knee up as high as possible. Keep your knee bent while lifting.
- Lower your leg.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Perform 10 repetitions on each leg.
Don’t forget to breathe during this exercise. Breathe in while lifting your leg and breathe out while lowering your leg.
If you want to make this exercise harder, try pushing down on your thighs as you lift to provide some resistance.
5. Side Hip Raises
Hip raises are a great way to work the abductor muscles. Using a chair, you can safely perform this exercise without fear of losing your balance.
- Start by standing with your feet facing the back of a sturdy chair.
- Hold on to the top of the chair using both hands.
- Lift your right leg out to the side, making sure you keep your leg straight. Lift as high as is comfortable.
- Return your leg to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Repeat on the other leg.
Remember not to bend your hips, and keep your body as straight possible. Lift the ribs and keep your feet pointed forward.
If you want to make this exercise more of a challange, try wearing ankle weights or holding on to the chair with one hand.
6. Sit to Stand Exercise
Sitting and standing may sound like a simple task, but it’s actually a great way to strengthen your hips. Being able to sit down and stand up with ease – whether it’s on a chair, toilet or bed – can make life so much easier. This exercise can be performed anywhere as long as there’s a chair handy.
- Start by standing in front of a chair, as if you were going to sit down. Your knees should be right in front of the chair.
- Bend your knees and lean forward as you lower yourself down toward the chair.
- Just before your backside hits the chair, stop and stand back up.
- Repeat this movement 10 times.
When lowering down, make sure that you bend from the hips and keep your ribcage lifted.
If you want to make this exercise more challenging, you can try wrapping ankle weights around your arms to add resistance.
7. Straight Leg Raise
Straight leg raises will strengthen the hips while helping stabilize the pelvis and lower back. To do this exercise, you’ll need to get down on the floor. You may want to lay on a yoga mat for extra cushioned support.
- Start by laying down on your back. Keep one knee straight and one knee bent.
- Raise your straight leg until your knee is in line with the bent knee.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat ten times on each leg.
Be careful not raise your leg above your bent knee.
To make this exercise more challenging, try adding ankle weights or holding the raised leg in the air for 15 seconds.
These exercises should help you feel healthier and more limber as you grow old. Healthy hips are very important in your day to day life. If you stay active and flexible it will also prevent falls and keep you out of needing a 3 wheel walker or any other walker.