For healthy movement, we should aim to be both flexible and strong! There are many exercise programs that target specific muscle groups, creating imbalance. Your body is one interconnected unit. Muscle fibers surrounding each joint flow in many different directions. The hip joint has at least 17 different muscles surrounding it, and it’s easy for those muscles to become imbalanced through either weakness (commonly in the glutes) or tightness (in the quads and hips) – leaving you prone to injury or pain in your knees, back and more.
Rebalancing the full body with Essentrics® will help relieve back, hip, and knee pain. When your muscles are both flexible and strong, your overall strength, power, and energy increases! The following exercises are found within full-body workouts both on our streaming platform Essentrics® TV, as well as Miranda’s latest book, The Miracle of Flexibility.
Here are 4 of our favorite exercises to target
your hips, knees, and glutes:
Why we love it: One of the most powerful exercises to relieve knee pain and strengthen the muscles surrounding the hips, knees and glutes, Essentrics Plies do it all! These tai-chi-style plies strengthen the quads in a lengthened position, rebalance the muscles and release tension on the knee.
1- Stand with legs wide and feet in a comfortable turnout.
2- Bend your knees, ensuring that your knees are directly over your ankles while tracking in the same direction as your toes.
3- Pull up in your spine and out of your hips. Slowly pulse 8x.
Top Tip: Turn out from your hips, not your feet! This ensures that there is no torsion to your knee. Instead, as you stand on the sole of your feet, your knees and toes will automatically line up in the same direction.
SIDE LEG LIFTS
Why we love it: Side leg lifts are one of our most effective exercises for relieving pain in the hips and lower back. By focusing on lengthening and strengthening key muscles around the hips (like the glutes), restricted joints have a chance to decompress, resulting in greater mobility, improved balance and increased energy.
1- Lying on your side, stack your hips on top of each other. Bend your bottom leg and extend your top leg with your toes pointed. Place your bottom arm so the forearm is directly under your shoulder, with your top arm in front to act as a support.
2- Slide your foot away from your body. When you can’t slide any further, slowly lift your leg.
3- Lower your leg with control. Repeat 8x with foot pointed and 8x flexed.
Top Tip: To achieve fully lengthened muscles, move in an outward motion away from your pelvis by imagining that someone is pulling your top leg and then pulling your core muscles (abdominals and lower back) in the opposite direction.
Why we love it: One of our favorite exercises to increase thigh flexibility, this stretch relieves tension around your knees and hips. Our quadriceps group (the front of the thigh) can become tight or shortened from running, weight training or even long periods of sitting! Lengthening this important muscle group improves mobility in your hip and relieves pain in your knees.
1- Start with the soles of your feet together and the knees bent. Close your legs so the knees and ankles are stacked.
2- Holding your shin, gently pull your leg back and place it on the ground. Ensure that there is no weight on your kneecap.
3- Lengthen your spine, press your hips forward and pull your foot towards your bum. Feel a deep stretch in the front of your thigh without any discomfort in your hips, knee, or lower back. Hold for 3 seconds, then release.
Top Tip: Everybody’s hips are different! There are a variety of modifications for this stretch. Your hips may benefit from sitting on a riser, keeping your back leg on the floor or even lying on your side with your hips stacked as you pull your heel toward your bum. If you still have trouble with these variations, we recommend doing our standing quad and hip flexor stretch instead.
SEATED HIP STRETCH
Why we love it: The seated hip stretch is the perfect exercise to perform when you want to increase energy and relieve stiffness. When this central area of our body is well-balanced and flexible, we can participate in activities of daily living with greater ease.
1- Sit with your spine straight. With your legs extended in front, bend and cross one leg over the other, pressing the foot into the ground. If you can’t cross it over comfortably, simply place it beside the knee instead.
2- Using the opposite arm as your bent leg, hug your knee in towards your chest. Keep your shoulders open and your spine pulling up.
3- Slowly twist towards your bent leg, rotating until you feel a stretch in the outer hip. Hold for a few seconds, then release.
Top Tip: If you have difficulty sitting with your spine straight, elevate your hips with a cushion or risers. Press the same hand as your bent leg into the floor to help you lengthen your spine further.
Contributing writer Beth Oldfield, Level 4 Essentrics® Instructor