My new roommate/not-new-friend/future-sister-in-law (unofficial) inspired this post tonight. She’s been having a lot of hip problems lately that are getting in the way of her running and exercise activities, as well as life in general. So for her and all of you other readers out there who sometimes struggle with sore hips, lower back, and glutes, this ones for you! For all of you who don’t, read this anyways, because these are good exercises whether you’re a marathoner or a couch potato. Low-impact, low-intensity, but supportive strength-building exercises.
A hip bridge is a simple exercise that really helps to strengthen not only your glutes and hamstrings, but also your hip flexors and lower back. Use the picture below from Women’s Health Magazine online and follow these directions: Lie flat on your back with both knees bent and feet on the floor. Pinch your butt cheeks together, push your heels into the ground, and raise your hips towards the ceiling until your body forms a straight line. Lower back to the ground and repeat. 3 sets of 20. Want to make it harder? Follow my picture and extend one leg out, so your knees still touch. Raise hips using just one leg, heel still digging into the floor, until your body is straight. For a little extra core work, try putting your feet up on a yoga ball.
Hip Bridge, Step 1
Hip Bridge, Step 2
Single-leg hip bridge, Step 1. Dig in those heels!
Single-leg hip bridge, Step 2. Dig in those heels!
Hip Bridge Roll-outs
This exercise requires a yoga ball. Lie flat on your back on the floor. Put your legs up on the yoga ball, about mid-calf. Roll the ball in towards your butt, keeping your butt cheeks pinched, until your knees are at about a 90 degree angle. Roll the ball back out. That’s one rep. 3 sets of 20.
Hip bridge roll-out, Step 1
Hip bridge roll-out, Step 2
This exercise requires a pilates or theraband tied in a loop around something sturdy, like a table or bed leg (preferably in front of the tv!). Stand far enough away from table so that the band is stretched a bit around one leg. Move forward or backward to make it harder or easier. Raise leg out in front of you. Do 20 reps. Repeat this on all sides (left, right, and back) and then switch to the other leg and do the same thing. Do this a total of 3 sets of 20 reps on each side, each leg.
Leg Raises, Step 1. Stand with one foot through theraband, feet even, band stretched.
Leg Raise, Step 2. Slowly raise leg out in front. Repeat 20 times.
Leg Raise, Step 3. Turn to side and pull band across body, working the inside of your leg. Repeat 20 times.
Leg Raise, Step 4. Turn again and kick backwards this time. Repeat 20 times, slowly!
Leg Raise, Step 5. Turn one more time and raise leg to outside, working the outside of your hip. Repeat 20 times. Switch legs and repeat all four sides.
You will need some sort of stretchy band for this, like a pilates or theraband. Loop the band around your legs, so it sits on your ankle bones or just above. Spread your legs out just wide enough so it’s tight enough to not fall down your legs. Take a step to the left (or right), stretching the band with your legs. Let the other leg follow, returning to your first stance, where the band isn’t loose enough to fall down your ankles. Waddle (like a penguin!) about 10 yds across the floor, then come back facing the same direction. Give it a rest and go again. Try to do this 3 times. This exercise works the outside of your hips (really good).
Penguin Waddle, Step 1. Band it tight so it won’t fall down, but not stretched too far.
Penguin Waddle, Step 2. Step out to the side, pulling the band tighter. Bring other leg in, and continue to “waddle” across the floor”. Don’t forget to come back so you get both sides evenly!
This is an ab exercise that also works your hip flexors. You may remember it from previous posts. Lie flat on your back, with legs straight and about 6-12 inches off the ground. Spread legs out horizontally and back in, exactly like a pair of scissors. Pair this with flutters, the exercise below, for a full-hip workout. Try 3 sets of 25 reps.
Flutters are the opposite of scissors. That is, you kick vertically, like you’re swimming in a pool. Again, try these with the scissors exercise above, and do 3 sets of 25 reps. If either of these give your lower back trouble, put your hands flat under your butt for support.
This exercise gets its name from the motion. Just think of a dog… doing his business on a fire hydrant. You know, stereotypes. Get on all fours. Keeping core tight, raise leg out to the side and bring it back down. That’s one rep. Try to do 3 sets of 20.
Fire hydrants, Step 1
Fire hydrants, Step 2
This exercise is also done on all fours. Kick your leg back straight behind you, pinching your butt tight. Bring your leg back down. That’s one set. Do 3 sets of 20.
Leg Kick-backs, Step 1
Leg Kick-backs, Step 2
This is just how it sounds. Lunge forward so knee rests on the ground. Lean forward to feel the stretch in your hip. To make it more intense, raise both arms in the air straight above your head. Hold for 3-5 slow breaths. This is a great hip stretch.
Front Leg Lift
The effort you put into this will vary based on the strength/pain of your hips. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight. Keeping your legs straight, lift them into the air slowly. To make it harder, raise your legs high into the air (until you come to a 90 degree angle). If that hurts your hips, don’t go as high! Whether it be a 45 degree angle or just 6 inches you can get off the ground, as long as you’re doing it slowly you’re doing great and building strength. This exercise really helps your hip flexors, and also does good things for your lower abs. If this strains your back, simply place your hands flat under your butt to help support it. Try 3 sets of 15-20.
Front Leg Lift, Step 1
Front leg lift, Step 2
Side Leg Lift
Lie flat on your side with one foot/leg on top of the other. Raise leg up in the air, as close to 90 degrees as you can get (the full 90 takes a bit of flexibility!). Lower back down for one rep. Try 3 sets of 20.
Side leg lift, Step 1
Side leg lift, Step 2
Any or all of these exercises can be added to your leg workout or even your daily life. Hip and glute strength are a very important thing to keep strong for your body’s balance, and hopefully these exercises will help. Some may be quick and easy enough that you can do a few sets before you go to bed at night, or while you’re waiting for your toast to pop in the morning. I hope you work as hard at these exercises as I did with this post (It took me three days, so appreciate it!! Just kidding…. kinda).
Are you looking forward to a new weekend challenge tomorrow night??
Good Things 🙂