As runners and athletes, we focus a lot of our efforts on foam rolling our calves and thighs, but we often forget the primary motion of running stems from our hips. After all, that section of the body is our main weight-bearing area – from the psoas muscles all the way to the gluteus maximus. It’s time to give back to the ball and socket joints that keep us going day in and day out, so here are a few stretches and fitness techniques to nurture our hips.
One of the easiest and best methods of giving back to your body is through the booty. Whether climbing hills or racing flats, our glutes are driving us forward, and the vital IT Band begins at the top of the hip, so be sure to give it a thorough massage using this technique on a foam roller. Don’t have a foam roller? First off, get one. Second, this stretch/massage technique can work just as well on the floor too. A word of note: when executing this hip and glute stretch, the body can enter a “fight or flight” mode when finding tight connective tissue, so be sure to stay in the moment of discomfort and mindfully send breath to that area.
Another great stretch comes from yoga, and even if the full practice of yoga isn’t your jam, this pose will help anyone from the 9-5 chair sitter to the ultramarathoner. It is formally known as Supta Baddha Konasana (soup-ta-bod-ha-kahn-ah-sah-na), but let’s go with Reclining Bound Angle Pose. Lie flat on your back, bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to fall away to opposite sides. Do not force the knees down to the ground; breathe calmly, and as the hips and legs relax, your knees will naturally begin to sink toward the earth. The great thing about this pose is if you’re chilling in a Flex SPIbelt, the buckle won’t annoy you while stretching and you can still enjoy music right from the posture you’re in! Stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes per day; it will be astonishing how much better your body will feel afterward.
Finally, a great way to keep hips happy is by keeping them toned up. A great exercise to perform on a regular basis are side planks. No one loves planks, but the body does, so thirty-second side planks on both sides take a minute of your time and will vastly improve hip strength.
Be sure to remember that although they are your weight-bearing and durable, they still are a ball-in-socket joint and should be taken care of gently. Life is all about balance, so be sure to give attention to your hips with a mix of exercise and stretching/massaging for maximum performance.