If most of 2020 has involved trips from your bed to your desk to your couch, you've probably got an inkling that your hips are tighter than usual (the soreness you feel every time you sit down or stand up is a pretty solid clue). But if you need confirmation, this 10-second tight hips test is all you need.
Sitting for long periods of time shortens the muscles in your hips, which is what causes them to feel tight in the first place, says Allison Wardwell, a flexibility coach with StretchIt. To find out how dire your individual situation is, she suggests putting your muscles through a quick mobility check. "Lie flat on your back and bring one knee to your chest," she says. "If the bottom knee starts to bend as you pull the other knee to your chest, it may indicate that your hip flexors, on the front of your hip, are tight."
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tight hips test
You can test your hamstrings—which are connected to your hips through your posterior chain—using a similar method. "Lie on your back and lift your leg towards the sky," says Wardwell. "If you can't lift it straight more than 70 degrees, your hamstrings are probably tight."
Since the hips are the central point between the trunk and the lower body—and help us get through daily activities like tying our shoes and picking things up off the floor—it's important to keep them loose and mobile. "Moves that can combine active muscle contraction with flexibility are key," says Wardwell. She suggests stretching before and after your workouts (and maybe even in between all those meetings you're taking from your couch) in order to keep them functioning properly.
The good news is, we've got you. If you need a little stretch inspiration, follow along with the videos below, and you'll be able to pass your stretch test in no time at all.
1. Hip-opening yoga flow
This 25-minute flow is solely dedicated to opening up your hips, and will take you through poses that will feel like a shot of WD-40 for your joints. By the time you settle into Savasana, your entire body will be breathing a sigh of relief.
2. 20-minute full-body stretch routine
Gallery: The 2021 New Year's Fitness Center (Men's Health)
If your hips aren't the only thing that's tight (which, same), this full-body stretch will help relieve tension in all the right places. Over the course of 20 minutes, you'll loosen up every muscle from your neck down to your toes.
3. Post-workout recovery series
Got minimal time to spare? This six-minute recovery routine is heavily hip focused and is the perfect post-workout (or post work) treat for your body.
4. Full-body stretch routine
Since every muscle in your body is connected, take a few minutes to stretch your hips, back, and shoulders—aka the three spots that are probably feeling the effects of your WFH set-up the most. You'll need a lacrosse or tennis ball to help roll out the muscles, which is the easiest (and most affordable) full-body massage you'll ever get.
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