Sitting at a desk all day stinks. I sit at a computer writing articles like this one. Many of you are stuck at school in some horribly uncomfortable desk, or maybe you're cramped in a bus on the road to an away game.
This can make the muscles around your hips a bit angry. Some muscles, like your glutes, tend to turn off while others, like your hip flexors, tighten up. Then when you stand up, everything feels out of whack. Your hips feel tight. Moving them isn't as easy as it should be. And you feel far from athletic.
For a fortunate few, this might not be an issue. For myself, it's been a problem for as long as I can remember, and I know many of you are in the same boat.
So over the last few months, I've experimented with several workouts to counter the effects of sitting all day and get my hips moving and feeling the way they should. My criteria for the workouts were:
It has to be quick. Few people have time to do a full dynamic warm-up outside of their workout. This routine needed to be quick and efficient so a person could do it at lunch, after school/work or as part of a full dynamic warm-up.
It must require minimal equipment. You likely don't have access to a weight room throughout the day, so the workout should only require the bare essentials, meaning you can do it anywhere.
It must work as many hip muscles as possible. A simple hip flexor stretch won't cut it. The hips are complex joints that have several large muscle groups responsible for moving the hips in multiple directions.
The end result was a bodyweight workout that features six exercises. Together, the moves work the major hip muscles and take them through an active range of motion, which helps lubricate the joints, increase blood flow and release tight muscles, such as your hip flexors.
I've found that performing this mini-band hip workout every day alleviates many of the side effects of sitting throughout the day. Overall, my hip strength seems a it more balanced, which is critical for exercise form and reducing the risk of knee injuries. And, it's helped reduce pain on the side of my thigh from a previous injury.
All you need to do this workout is a set of mini-bands that cost $12 on Amazon, which you can throw in your backpack. Best of all, it should only take you five minutes to complete.
Here's how to do it.
Perform the exercises below one after the other in a circuit with no rest between them. Repeat the circuit for 3 rounds.
This simple exercise stretches the hamstring and reduces tension within the muscle.
Reps: 5 each side
Reverse Lunges With Overhead Reach
The Reverse Lunge is an excellent quad and glute exercise. But we're performing them to open up our hip flexors, which often become tight from the flexed hip position when we're seated.
Reps: 10 each side
Banded Bodyweight Squat
Focus on lowering a bit below parallel on the Squat to challenge and open up the muscles around your hips. The band above your knees forces you to drive your knees out to keep them over your ankles, which makes your glutes work harder and cleans up your Squat form.
Wide-Stance Banded Glute Bridge
This exercise is all about waking up your butt muscles. The wide stance with a band drastically increases the burn felt in your glutes in only a few reps. Hold the bridge position for 2 seconds, squeezing your glutes as much as you can.
Banded Mountain Climber
This is a great catch-all exercise. You're holding a Plank position, so it challenges your core while also working your hip flexors and hamstrings. Perform this slowly with control, not for speed like on a traditional Mountain Climber.
Reps: 10 each side
The Banded Shuffle targets your abductors, the muscles that drive your legs out to the side. These muscles play an important role in lateral movement, hip stability and knee stability.
Reps: 10 steps each side
Bonus: Foam Roll Squeeze
This requires a foam roller, so we're adding this as a bonus since you might not always have one on hand. Simply squeezing a foam roller with your thighs is a great way to activate and strengthen your adductors, commonly referred to as your groin. If you're a hockey player, this exercise is essential.
Reps: 30-second hold
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock