4 exercises to keep your hips loose for a post-work run
Cure your hip pain with these easy-to-do exercises from David London, a resident physiotherapist at The Runners Academy in Toronto
Attention nine to fivers: if you’re stuck in an office chair all day, it’s likely you’ve battled tight hips on your post-work run. Tight hips can be a real nuisance, and affect the enjoyment and quality of your run. Some simple ways to prevent this are by going for several short walks during your day or performing stretches to loosen up the area.
David London, a resident physiotherapist at The Runners Academy in Toronto, shares four exercises to help you be more active from your workspace, so you are ready to run after work. “You have to be proactive to get the most out of your body,” says London. “Being proactive will translate to better running, finding the enjoyment of that stretch sensation of being with your body and taking care of it.”
Here are four exercises to loosen up the area and activate your hips.
Seated figure-4 stretch
The seated figure-4 stretch is a great introductory exercise for improving hip flexibility and the muscles used for stabilizing your legs while running.
- Start by sitting toward the edge of your chair with a neutral spine position. Then bring one foot up on top of the opposite quad.
- Tilt your hips forward while keeping your back straight. Lean over until you feel the stretch sensation in your hip of the lifted leg. You can reach your arm forward to increase the intensity of the stretch.
Hold for 30 seconds and work up to 2-3 minutes as we approach this hip stretch in a yin-yoga style. The goal is to open the hip capsule, create space for movement and open the joints.
Standing pigeon pose
The standing pigeon pose is a seated hip-stretching variation that requires a bit more flexibility. If you are having trouble getting into the pose, you can modify the movement by elevating the height of the table or placing a yoga block under your knee.
- Place one foot flat on the middle of your chair/surface with your hip at 90 degrees, keeping your ankle flexed to protect the knee. Hold onto the side of the surface to keep you balanced, if needed.
- Slowly let your knee open to the side toward the bench or chair as you start to feel a stretch in your hip muscles. Exhale as you lean your torso forward to intensify the stretch, bringing your chest closer to your shin.
- Hold for 30 seconds to a minute. You can also move around in the stretch to change where you feel it in your hip.
Standing hamstring stretch
The purpose of the standing hamstring stretch is to help maintain the range of motion in your hamstrings. This muscle can become shortened from prolonged periods of sitting, which can lead to issues such as lower back pain and make you more susceptible to weakness.
London says this stretch is extremely easy to modify and perform at any workstation or flexibility level.
- Start by placing your leg on a stable chair in front of you with your knee bent and your foot relaxed. If you need to support your balance, place your hands on your chair or thigh.
- Lean forward at the hips and sink deeper into the stretch. Try to keep the movement fluid by oscillating from the bent knee to the straight leg hamstring stretch. You should feel this stretch in the upper part of your hamstring, and not in your lower leg behind the knee.
Standing hip flexor and groin stretch
The standing hip flexor & groin stretch is London’s personal favourite to get rid of the feeling of tightness or pinching in the front of your hip. He notes that runners expect a lot out of their hip flexors, so it’s important to maintain good tissue health and range of motion in this area.
- Start in a staggered-stance lunge position with your front foot on a stable surface. Shift your body weight onto your back leg and engage the glute of the same leg to protect the lower back and to help set your pelvis in the proper position.
- Next, keep your glute engaged, and exhale as you lean your body forward into the stretch, and hold for 10 seconds.
- Slowly return to the start and repeat this movement in a dynamic lunge for three to five reps, holding for 10 seconds for each rep.
- To balance the groin and medial hamstring muscle, turn your back foot with your leg pointed at 45 degrees, opening your hips away from the top leg.
David London is a 28-year-old resident physiotherapist at The Runners Academy in Toronto. London studied Nutritional Science at the University of Toronto during his undergrad, then completed his Masters of Science (Physiotherapy) at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
London is an avid runner, soccer and ultimate frisbee player. His goal is to promote an active lifestyle that encourages movement throughout the day to keep the body in motion. He believes being proactive will translate to a better balance, performance and a healthier lifestyle. You can follow London on Instagram or YouTube.