In the course of a typical workout, many people neglect to include exercises that focus on building hip strength. Yet, this is extremely important, as weak hip muscles can set off a cascade of negative changes in your mobility. If your hip muscles are weak, you may experience poor hip motion.
In turn, this may lead to pain in your hips, knees and back. There are several primary muscles in your hips that deserve strengthening. Your gluteus maximus (which is on the back of your hip or buttocks) and the gluteus medius, which is the primary muscle on the side of your hip, are two of them.
Your hip flexors — the rectus femoris and the iliopsoas — should also be tended to, especially if you sit at a desk for long hours.
Sitting for long periods can cause your hip flexors to shorten up and become tight, leading to problems with posture and back pain. In addition, weak hip flexors may contribute to foot, ankle and knee injuries.1,2
Sitting is a primary culprit in tight hips and thighs because the muscles are rarely extended (although they may also become tight from working out). To lengthen and strengthen these muscles, try this move created by Suzanne Bowen, creator of BarreAmped, an internationally taught barre technique chosen by Fitness Magazine and Natural Health Magazine as the best barre workouts in 2015.3
You’ll need a chair or kitchen counter for support. Start out in a kneeling lunge position with your right foot in front and leg bent at the knee in a 90-degree angle. Your left knee should be a few inches behind your left hip. To do the exercise, Bowen recommends:4
“1. Press forward a few inches into your right leg just until you feel a gentle stretch in the opposite hip.
If you have very tight hips, this might be as far as you go. (Protect the front knee by making sure it doesn’t extend out beyond the toes.) For a more advanced stretch, straighten the left leg behind you and then press forward.