Do You Have Tight Hips?
Have you been working from home since the current pandemic put the world in a state of lockdown nearly a year ago? Do you often find yourself to be inactive during the day? If you squat, do you feel pain in your hip flexors? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions then you probably have tight hips.
Tight hips, as hinted at above, are caused by prolonged periods of inactivity. If not addressed, your major hip flexors, including your Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL, not a Starbucks drink) and your Psoas will will become weaker, leading to tightness and ultimately pain. And if you squat in the gym (and I don’t know why you wouldn’t be!) then this will negatively impact your mobility and stability. The more you ignore this problem, the closer you are to getting hurt, especially as the load increases.
Enter The Frog Stretch
The Frog Stretch (or Mandukasana if you practice Yoga regularly) is a great hip opener I briefly alluded to in a recent article. The benefits and carryover of the Frog Stretch include:
- Improved Hip Flexibility
- Improved Squat Stability and Mobility
- Decreased Pain In Key Areas Of The LHPC Including Hips and Lumbar Spine
How To Perform The Frog Stretch
Before you get started you might want to have with you a foam roller and especially a yoga mat, and make sure it’s long. You will want to warm up before performing the Frog Stretch because trust me when I tell you this will hurt like hell; therefore I prefer either taking a hot shower or placing a foam roller under your adductor muscles, rolling each side 10 – 15 times. Performing this stretch on a bare floor of any kind may put too much pressure on your knees, so placing a yoga mat underneath you will greatly reduce any shearing forces. If you’re in a gym and you happen to be wearing knee sleeves, those work fine as well. All of this is optional, but highly recommended.
- Get down to your hands and knees. If using a yoga mat, be sure to fold the ends up and place your knees on the folded sections. Be sure place your forearms parallel to the floor, inside your legs, your spine neutral, your head looking forward.
- Breathe in and out as you slowly move you legs more and more outward, leading with your knees. If you feel tightness, stop and hold where you are. This is where the move will become painful.
- Hold in areas of tightness for about fifteen seconds before trying to move further. If it’s too difficult to do so, you may stop, and take a thirty second rest before trying again. Repeat this for as many times as necessary. Do not forget to breathe.
- Once you get to a point where your body is as low as it possibly can go, at which point your stomach should be a few inches from touching the floor, you can either hold that position for as long as you like or you can slowly rock your hips back and forth. This clearly turns a static stretch into a more dynamic movement.
Never force your legs to go farther than they physically can, especially if you are new to this move. It will take a little bit of time to attain enough flexibility here. The first few times I tried the Frog Stretch were absolutely painful, as well as a wake up call in terms of just how tight I really was. You might not ever like to do the Frog Stretch (and I sure wouldn’t blame you!), but I find it to be absolutely necessary for anyone, especially any squatter, who’s lacking in hip mobility from sitting all day, also making this an excellent corrective exercise.
You can perform the Frog Stretch any time you wish. I personally prefer to do so after my initial warmup and directly before I perform any major compound movement, in-between squat sets, after I’m finished training and before I go to bed at night. Performing the Frog Stretch in-between sets is probably not that necessary for most of you, but I feel better knowing my hips are staying fully opened before the sets begin to get heavier.
Remember that when I do this I’m going by instinct; training should equally be as instinctive as it is organized. Try the Frog Stretch today and see where it fits best in your own routine. But I do promise you that you will thank me. Your hips might as well.