Unlocking Hip Mobility: Effective Techniques and Mobilizations for a Pain-Free Life

How to Open Hip Flexors

Do you engage in repetitive, high-impact movements, sit for long periods at work, or have existing conditions like rheumatoid arthritis?

Hip flexibility often goes neglected in such cases—but don’t worry, we’ve got your back (well, your hips, to be exact).

Your hips are like an engine for locomotion that affects your entire body. Poor hip mobility can have direct consequences including overall longevity.

The sit and rise test study found that those who could get off the ground without using their hands lived longer in direct proportion to how well they scored on this test.

Rates of hip arthritis are far lower in China. The reason? Most people sit and sleep on the ground than in Western countries.

Possibly more than any other musculoskeletal system, the health of your hips is incredibly influential on your own longevity and quality of life.

With that said, most of us engage in practices that promote stiff, dysfunctional hips. At The Ready State, we believe that implementing habits of daily maintenance and engaging in hip healthy movement practices are a must,

What Causes Hip Problems?

Understanding the importance of hip mobility includes knowing the cause of stiffness and immobility. begs the question of what causes stiffness and immobility.

You may not feel like you have hip restrictions. You can walk around with relative comfort, maybe experience little knee pain here and there, and otherwise feel good.

But how well can you sit cross-legged? How long could you work on the floor rather than in a chair?

And how easily can you get up from the ground without using your hands?

If you’re supposed to be able to spend long periods on the floor sitting, ca you from there without using your hands easily? Can you pop a squat, with knees fully bent and butt near the ground?

If you live in the West, or Australia & New Zealand, then the answer might be no. The culprit is the environment, starting with the chair.

Chairs are not popular or common in much of the world, and not for economic reasons. Many countries in the Eastern first world still primarily sit on the floor and sleep on the ground.

Chairs allow us to spend long periods with very little movement, and barely changing our posture. They also force us into a specific, low-range ofmotion shape with our hips and knees. Floor sitting, on the other hand, offers much more position variety. It’s about having greater use of your hip range of motion.

The Consequences of Poor Hip Mobility

The actual consequences for our health vary. For one thing: arthritis. As mentioned earlier, the Chinese exhibit much lower percentages of hip arthritis. Something in the range of 80 to 90% less, than Westerners.

Some of the most infamous types of chronic pain have to do at least in part with immobility.

Have you ever heard of sciatica? Hopefully, you haven’t experienced it. This pain most commonly occurs due to impingement of the sciatic nerve at the location of the nerve tunnel running through the hip bone near our glute muscle.

Sciatica can cause pain and discomfort all the way from the lumbar spine down through the hamstring and even into your feet.

This is all well and dandy, now what do we do?

Exercises To Open Up Hip Flexors

These hip stretches work on removing the pain and restoring functionality.

Note: For every exercise, don’t forget to hold the stretch and repeat on the other side.

Desensitize Pain

First and foremost, work on desensitizing any pain you’re already experiencing. This includes low back pain, hip pain, pelvic floor pain in the pelvic floor or growing muscles, hamstring pain, and even knee pain.

Knee pain is often caused by a stiff rectus femoris muscle, which attaches your kneecap to your hips directly.

The principal manner by which one desensitizes pain is through using mobilizations involving a tissue mobilizing implement. Use tools like a foam roller, lacrosse ball, or other self-massage style tool.

These tools promote blood flow and help to change the brain’s pain response to a tissue. It may be ingrained despite having already healed the original injury, and also allows tissues to undergo vast elastic changes.

The Four Horsemen

The four horsemen routine refers to four groups of muscles that attach the hip to the rest of your body.

These four muscles chronically become stiff and can contribute to pain and immobility all over the body.

The first of the four horsemen is the rectus femoris quadricep muscle mentioned earlier. Theater sign is an old diagnosis for knee pain caused by prolonged periods of sitting. It is in particular a result of a stiff rectus femoris muscle.

The iliacus and iliopsoas muscles are muscles inside the pelvis that connect your hip bone and pelvis. They’re offten difficult to reach and difficult to stretch. Our friend Christine Koth believes that stiffness in the iliacus is one of the most overlooked factors in pain and hip issues.

Next, the Quadratus Lumborum (QL) are two muscles next to your spine in your lower back. I often find that these muscles are stiff as bones when they should be supple.

Finally, the psoas muscles lie deep inside your pelvic bowl. Tight psoas are often a direct result of chronic sitting. The benefits of psoas mobilization are so much so that a psoas mobilization device called the pso-rite became quickly popular among hard-charging athletes and MMA fighters, including my friend Joe Rogan, upon its invention.

While each of these tissues has been lauded individually as the “missing piece” of hip mobility, what I find is that all four can be involved to a degree, and not everyone will benefit from just mobilizing one.

This daily maintenance routine addresses all four in one go.

Restore hip function

Once we have become desensitized to pain or no longer feel it, we’ll have to restore healthy hip function. Use mobilizations that require or promote healthy hip joint position throughout a full range of motion.

The Lower Body Spin-up Routine

The lower body spin up is designed to open up your hips from a variety of angles and vectors. Within the routine is a test and retest of your full squat to show you whether you’re making progress.

This routine can be used as a warm-up, a morning ritual, or as a daily sequence for improving hip function.

Prevent further dysfunction

Once you’re pain free, and experiencing healthy mobility, preventing dysfunction from returning is namely about how you move.

Continuing with daily mobility maintenance will help, but fundamentally, we lose function in our tissues not as a result of a lack of mobilization. It’s due to poor movement (or lack thereof). Tons of humans throughout history and today can perform a perfect squat without ever lying on a foam roller or stretching.

And yes, even in old age.

The key difference is that our environment doesn’t require us to enter positions of health or move regularly, while theirs does.

Adopting good movement practices in your daily environments can drastically improve your mobility for the rest of your life. Three elements we focus on here at The Ready State are:

  1. Walk at least 8,000 steps a day
  2. Sit on the floor as much as possible
  3. Design your workspaces for movement and mobility

I’ve gone deeper into each of these topics in the content above, but the gist is simple enough.

How to Open Hip Flexors FAQs

Read on to see some of my expert tips and tricks that will answer some of the most common hip flexor concerns,

How do you stretch and unlock achy hips for instant pain relief?

Realign your hips for instant relief with engaging routines like doing couch stretches or using a resistance band. You won’t need a chiropractor. The couch stretch is a DIY-friendly exercise that involves kneeling with one leg against a wall to open your hip flexors.

If you have a band, wrap it around your leg to provide a gentle pull from your hip socket and clear impingement. This distraction expands hip joint space, allowing you to bring your knees closer to your chest without discomfort.

How do you unlock your hips to release trauma?

At TRS, we emphasize mobility and tissue work for long-term trauma release. Utilize foam rolling, lacrosse balls, and targeted stretches to relieve hip tension.

Take slow, deep breaths to help you relax and release emotional trauma stored in your hips. Practice these techniques regularly to build a connection between mindful breathing, physical release, and emotional healing.

How long does it take to loosen tight hips?

Don’t confuse progress with perfection. The time it takes to loosen those tight hips varies from person to person, but consistent effort pays off. Expect to see improvements within a few weeks if you’re dedicated to daily stretches and mobility work.

Keep Tight Hip Flexors At Bay

The departure from floor sitting towards using chairs, in combination with an increase of deskbound jobs and less time moving, are key reasons for hip dysfunction in the West.

In turn, addressing these factors is the key solution to these problems.

Optimizing your movement environment, engaging in daily mobility maintenance, and improving your hip’s relationship with the rest of your body cannot only reduce pain but help you live longer.

For more information on movement vital signs, check out our new book Built To Move. For more insight on the way our chair-based environment is affecting us at all ages, check out our book Deskbound. Both contain information on the problem as well as the solutions.

As always, please reach out to us in the comments for the forums for any questions on how to continue improving your Ready State.

Get One on One Coaching with Our Professional Experts

Leave a Reply

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.