4 Bodyweight Exercises to Improve Hip Mobility

Many people struggle with snapping, pain or stiff hips. Going through life and “dealing” with these ailments is not living optimally. My commitment is to helping you live the best life possible. That starts with living pain-free and with full mobility.

Why Is Hip Mobility Important?

The hips are the “shoulders” of the legs. They enable us to engage in a range of activities, from squatting to pose with your grand kids for a photo, to perfecting your golf game… even simply getting up from a chair without pain.

You’ve got to have mobile hips… period.

There are numerous benefits of improving hip mobility on a daily basis:

  1. Improving range of motion at the hip
  2. Preventing injury in the hips, knees and ankles
  3. Promoting recovery of the muscles, tendons and ligaments that surround the hips

Let’s get this party started!

4 Bodyweight Exercises To Improve Hip Mobility

1. Elvis Thrusts

I’ll start off with a couple of simple but powerful exercises, named after one of the greatest rock icons of all time – Elvis. I’m actually more of a Hendrix fan and much preferred his music over Elvis’, but the King sure knew how to gyrate his hips! That’s why I named this exercise after him.

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, and place your hands on your hips
  • Rock JUST your pelvis up and down (see the video for an example)
  • Perform 10 reps (back and forth counts as one rep)

IMPORTANT: The first two exercises here are meant to improve mobility of the tendons and ligaments that surround the hip, NOT the muscles. Elvis Thrusts and Elvis Rotations (below) are very small movements. There should be minimal movement of the lower back. There will be some movement, but you should feel the stretch exclusively in the hip joint. If that’s not the case, your lower back is rocking too much.

2. Elvis Rotations

This exercise is very similar to Elvis Thrusts, except there will be a rotation movement.

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, and place your hands on your hips
  • Rotate JUST your pelvis through its full range of movement in a circular motion (see the video for an example)
  • Perform 10 reps, then change direction

    3. Reeling Silk

    This is an exercise I learned in Tai Chi a few years back. It will improve mobility in your ligaments, tendons and muscles. If you only have a couple of minutes to perform hip mobility exercises, this is the one I would choose. It’s amazing and you’ll feel super loose afterward.

    The reason it’s called “Reeling Silk” is because in Tai Chi you think about drawing energy up from the earth and into your body. It’s a type of Chi Kung.

    • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width (the wider your feet, the bigger the stretch), and place your hands on your hips
    • Leading with your knees, rotate to your right
    • Throughout the movement, pretend to draw circles on the floor with long pencils hanging from your knees
    • Rotate back to the left, making sure to fully stretch the hip area
    • Perform 10 reps, then change direction (rotating to the right and then the left counts as one full rep)

    Here’s a video if that’s hard to picture:

    4. Lying Rotations

    This is a great hip mobility exercise to perform at the end of your routine. Since it’s non-weight-bearing, it promotes relaxation and lubricates the joint.

    • Lay on the ground (or bed or couch), face up
    • Raise your left leg to the right, so that it crosses over your body
    • Bring the knee all the way up to your chest, or as close as you can manage
    • Rotate the hip down and outward to return to the starting position
    • Perform 10 reps, then change directions
    • After 10 rotations in each direction, switch legs

      What If I Feel Pain During These Exercises?

      If you feel intense pain during these exercises, you should stop. There may be something serious going on. If you feel a bit of discomfort, that’s a sign that the exercises are necessary. Stick with them for three to four weeks and your hips will feel just like new.

      When Should I Do Them?

      If you work out intensely, I recommend performing mobility work after your workout. The blood will be pumping, the muscles will be loose, and you’ll be able to focus on deeper ligament and tendon mobility. If you aren’t planning to couple these exercises with your workout, then you can do them whenever you want. Do them in the shower, before bed, or in the car (on second thought, that last one probably wouldn’t work too well).

      The key is to do them. “When” is less important than just getting them done.

       

      Let me know what you think!

      -Todd