Has it been going on for a while? Not to worry you are not alone! Being an avid Ringette player for 20+ years and a Dog Show Competitor I definitely have an idea of where you are coming from. Before I really got into Athletic Therapy and learned more about how my body moved I wasn’t always focused on using the right form and techniques, I liked the gym and working out but stretching and mobilizing were so not my thing! Not only is strength, endurance, and power important, but the mobility and flexibility of the joint have to be healthy as well.
When I assess people with low back or hip pain I always make sure to look at their gait, general stance, and have them do an active movement (either a squat, deadlift or lunge). This will help me determine the areas we need to target. Looking at these areas gives your therapist a road map of where we need to start and how we prioritize our treatment and exercise plan to best suit your needs. Next, I would look at the range of motion and strength to assess any imbalances that there are relative to the area. Having participated in sports that require a lot of complex movements, I want to make sure that I can move optimally. Thus, making sure there is a balance is very key. Below are a few exercises that can help you out!
Lying on your back with the hips and knees slightly bent, focus on dropping the knees to one side and maintaining the hips on the surface to have control. After a few reps of this per side, you would then grab one leg and bring it up towards the chest and pause for 1-2 seconds before alternating, again doing a few reps. The importance is to repeat the above sequence 1 time. I like this one for hip pain because often we find that the sacrum is not sitting neutral. This can aid in causing that restriction if we don’t fix that restriction the hip generally struggles to improve as well.
Lying on your back and starting with a light tension band around the thigh and shin, knees and hips bent with the feet together. Then, focusing on getting the glutes activated separately the legs until you feel the glutes contract. The goal here is not to separate the legs as far apart as possible but; to get the glutes active. This helps balance out our core subsystem and will help with stability.
In a seated position, sit with the knees bent slightly and then just outside of shoulder-width apart, heels down and feet pointing upwards, focus on dropping one leg as far in as possible and then as far out as possible, alternate sides doing about 15-20 per side. This is an easy way to help regain the internal and external rotation of the hip. It will be very good for mobilizing the joint before doing bigger complex movements. Quite often in hip pain that has been irritating for while there is a decrease in the internal or external rotation of the hip. Our goal with this exercise would be to help regain and maintain that mobility.
Get into a lunging position (the stretch side will be the knee on the ground) maintain the pelvis in a neutral position, squeeze the glute and push forward through the hip to feel a stretch, hold for 15-20 seconds. This stretch is really good to help stretch the Psoas and the Upper portion of the Quads. It is important to squeeze the glute for this one otherwise you will get too much range and will not target the right area for the stretch.
These are just a few ways to help relieve some of your nagging hip pain and are some of the exercises I will give frequently to clients with nagging hip pain. This is a good start but, if you are finding that these 4 things just aren’t cutting it there are definitely other exercises that can be beneficial for you! As you can see much of what the above exercises pertain to mobility and flexibility. These are areas I typically find lacking in people who have been suffering from hip pain for an extended period of time.
Personally, I went through a period of time where I could not get into a full-depth squat because there was a pinch at the bottom that was too unbearable. By including the above exercises into my warm-up and pre-activation routine, I was able to regain the mobility back and am now able to perform squats without issue. However, I do find that consistency is key, so you must always continue to mobilize if you plan on continuing to do the activities you love to do!
Definitely give these few exercises a try! If they just aren’t working for you maybe it’s time to dig a little deeper!
Written by Michelle Gaudet
Certified Athletic Therapist CAT(C)