Tight Hips? It’s Time to Loosen Up

Working from home may have its benefits (decent snacks, no commute and a thankfully casual dress code) but tight hips aren’t one of them. If you’ve found yourself with niggling aches and pains it could be down to your hips. Here’s how to fix it…

Even though many of us have been working from home for the best part of a year, chances are we still have a less than ideal desk set-up. Rather than sitting poker straight as many of us are, the correct position for your back to be in in order to support your hips, is actually a reclining angle of around 15 degrees. Sitting dead straight at a 90-degree angle, because you’re working from a kitchen chair with no give, means that your hip flexors are being squashed and forced into a tighter natural position than they should, all of which can lead to all sorts of connected pain across your body.

Prolonged periods of sitting – which most of us are now doing – is also another cause for tight hips; a survey by the British Heart Foundation pre-pandemic showed that office workers in 2019 spent 75% of their waking hours sitting down, a figure only increased by lockdown. When we stay sedentary for too long, our hip flexors not only tighten but actually shorten too, all of which can cause lower back pain, knee pain, an imbalance of muscle strength, postural problems and even pain in your neck.

If you can’t get yourself a chair that reclines to the appropriate angle and allows your hips to open up, then at the very minimum ensure you take regular breaks from your sitting position. It’s also wise to spend time working on strengthening exercises that will open up and mobilise tight hips and prevent putting pressure on and causing potential injury elsewhere.

Try these three exercises for looser, stronger hips and improved overall mobility: 

Kneeling hip flexor stretch

Ideal for helping to relieve tightness in the hips and for stretching out the hips, glutes and thighs.

  1. Kneel down on one knee and place the other foot flat on the floor in front of you.
  2. Bend your right knee to 90 degrees and keep your knee over your right ankle.
  3. Place your hands on your hips and straighten your spine while keeping your shoulders low.
  4. Gently push into the hip of the front foot. Engage your core and other thigh.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat for 5 reps.
  6. Switch legs and repeat.

Clamshell

Great for helping to relieve tightness in the hips and back pain.  

  1. Lie on your side with knees stacked on each other and your knees bent.
  2. Keeping your feet on top of each other, slowly raise the top knee up into the air about 45 degrees. If you need to press down on your upper hip with your free hand to ensure you don’t lean back and that your hip stays aligned.
  3. Repeat for 15 reps.

Pigeon pose

Great for loosening your hip flexors and relieves tension in your lower back.

  1. Begin on all fours then place your left knee behind your left wrist.
  2. Lay your left shin on the floor. Slowly move your left foot forward.
  3. Lengthen your right leg behind you, laying the top of your ankle on the floor.
  4. If your hips don’t touch the floor, use a yoga block or pillow as necessary.
  5. Extend out your spine and gently rest your hands on the floor or a block or cushion.
  6. Hold for 10 seconds.
  7. Switch sides and repeat.