Why Are My Hips So Tight?
By: Lisa Greenbaum E-RYT 500
I’m not sure that I’ve met anyone in the fitness industry who hasn’t complained of tight and sore hips, in particular our hip flexors. Looking at what we do, it’s no wonder really. Repetitive hip flexion in squats, running, cycling even in yoga. If you are like me, you’ve probably spent years searching for new stretches and equipment to help release this tension. But what if all this pulling, pushing and stretching to try to open up this locked down muscle was really making it worse? What if what we really needed to do was just let it be?
Our sympathetic nervous system (SNS), responsible for fight or flight, is the involuntary reaction we have to stress. This is hard-wired and luckily so, as it’s the system that fights for our survival. When we experience stress, whether life threatening or imagined (our brain doesn’t know the difference) our bodies respond by increasing our heart rate, slowing our breath down, stopping our digestion and by tightening around the abdomen. Curling in so that we are prepared to run away quickly or stand our ground and fight. Often this physical shift is so subtle we don’t notice as we spend more time here then we do relaxed. Based on this we must consider, is our high stress, go-go lifestyle contributing more to our “tight hips” then anything we are doing physically?
Try this: rather then stretching our hip flexors to 100% effort, what if we backed off to 50 or 60%? Instead of pressing into a lunge, what about lying on our backs in constructive rest position with knees bent at a 45 degree angle and both feet flat on the floor. What if we tried a restorative yoga class (holding relaxation based poses for 15-20min) over a power yoga class to release our tight hips? If we’ve been doing the same thing and getting the same results, isn’t it time to switch up the routine?