Cranky hips? This simple routine can help you feel better right now.
Not surprisingly, your hips are hugely important for mobility. When the muscles in your hips are tight or weak, it can affect how you walk, sit, bike, or do anything.
“Chances are you know what it feels like to have tight hips,” says SilverSneakers fitness expert Larysa DiDio. “But tight hips aren’t just uncomfortable, they can set you up for injury.”
Tight Hips Mean Achy Muscles
To understand the origins of stiff hips, it helps to pause for a quick anatomy lesson. All the muscles in your body are interconnected. Tightness in your hips could be tied to stiffness in your lower back and neck because both sets of muscles are anchored on and around your pelvis. It could also be linked to a tight IT band, which is also connected to your pelvis.
Now, picture your hips: When you are sitting, your pelvis is tilted forward, your hips are contracted, and everything is pulling on your lower back. And when you’re walking, the forward movement contracts and releases the hip muscles in a repetitive motion. This can stress your lower back as well. Even simply standing still can can create tension in your hips, lower back, and neck.
As for mobility, the outside hip muscles, called hip abductors, are key players. They’re called to action whenever you want to stand, walk, or need to step to the side. When the abductors are weak or tight, your risk for pain and even injury goes up.
“That’s why taking the time for a few hips-only moves can be a top mobility and balance booster,” says DiDio.
How to Use the 2-Minute Fix for Tight Hips
You’ll just need yourself and some open floor space. Feel free to position yourself next to a sturdy chair for support, if you need.
When you’re ready, press play and follow along with Larysa as she demonstrates side-to-side lunges that flow right into a standing stretch.
For this sequence, just like with any exercise, it’s good to challenge yourself but that doesn’t mean moving through pain, especially if it’s sharp. Focus on slow, controlled movements and dial it back if it gets uncomfortable.
How to do a side-to-side lunge to standing stretch: Stand with your feet wide apart, knees bent. Lean forward by hinging at your hips. Don’t round your back or hunch your shoulders. Keeping your feet firmly planted to the floor, slowly lunge to the right and then to the left. Continue slowly alternating side to side for a count of eight.
Pause, then turn your body to the right so you’re now in a standing forward lunge. Adjust your back foot so you feel stable. Reach your arms as high as you comfortably can. Hold the stretch for a count of eight to 10. Then repeat the side-to-side lunge sequence, this time turning to the left for the standing stretch.
Repeat this sequence whenever you need a break from sitting or you want to give your hips a quick release. You can also do it before or after a walk as part of your warmup or cool down.
New to side lunges? You can try these side lunge progressions.
Remember: Safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than your regular SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
Bonus Challenge: Try a SilverSneakers Enerchi Class
To keep your hips loose and nimble, you can try one of our two yoga classes: our beginner-friendly SilverSneakers Yoga class and a more advanced Yoga Flow class. But another gentle flow you should try is SilverSneakers Enerchi. You’ll perform modified tai chi forms in a slow, flowing sequence that will calm you and improve mobility and balance. It’s offered both in-person at participating SilverSneakers fitness locations (review the gym’s schedule for exact times), or online with SilverSneakers LIVE. See the latest SilverSneakers LIVE schedule and RSVP for classes here.
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