4 Ways to Unlock Your Hips If You Sit All Day Long

"Wow, I feel great after sitting in my chair for eight hours straight!" said no one ever. If you've been a desk jockey for years, you know that those eight-hour workdays (or more for some) stuck behind a desk being sedentary leaves the lower back and hips feeling tight and locked up.

When your hips are tight, your body tends to compensate somewhere else in the body to make up for the loss of hip mobility. When this happens, people are often left with aches and pains that they can't seem to gain control over. Eventually, their condition worsens and the normal assumption of "I just need to stretch more and I will feel better" is not going to cut it.

To understand how to fix this common issue, it's important to understand that the hips are one of the most mobile joints in the human body. Often the joint itself has great mobility, but poor postural positions, lack of movement and exercise, and many other lifestyle factors have a negative effect on the musculature surrounding the hips. This can leave you with the feeling of tight hips and, often, those nagging aches and pains.

The hips are home to several highly important areas of the human body, as well as an area that integrates the upper and lower halves of the body to work together as a functional unit. As you can see, having good hip mobility is clearly important for anyone's general health and fitness, not only behind a desk, but in all walks of life.

Luckily, adding in some targeted movement can help eliminate some of that damage that comes from sitting for multiple hours. When using the correct types of exercises, improvements in hip mobility will not only happen, but it's also maintained long-term. Longevity is, after all, what everyone should be after. Being able to keep the body healthy and strong is what allows you to do all the activities you love for the rest of your life. It's time to start where it's often needed most: the hips!

4 Hip Mobility Moves

The exercises listed below are designed to be simple and effective—you won't need to worry about having any gym equipment or fancy tools on hand. All you need is yourself, so you can and should use the exercises both at home or at your place of work to start feeling and moving better.

1. 90-90 Internal/External Rotation Mobility Drill 1 (Flexion and Extension)

Begin with both legs bent to the same side and at 90-degree angles. Use your hands placed on either side of the front leg to assist movement and keep you upright. Keeping the core engaged with a tall posture, gently lean forward until you achieve a stretch with mild discomfort, then return to the starting position. Once you are back in the starting position, lean backward to achieve extension, maintaining a tall posture until you feel that slight stretch again. Repeat this for a total of six reps, with a forward flexion and backward extension movement counting as one rep. Then, move the legs to the other side of the body and repeat.
2. 90-90 Internal/External Rotation Mobility Drill 2 (Rotation)

With both legs bent to one side of the body and at 90-degree angles, keep a tall posture as you place your hands on top of one another at the abdominals. Take a deep breath, then exhale as you rotate to one side. Once you achieve your end range of motion and feel a slight stretch, return to the starting position. Take another inhale, then exhale and rotate to the opposite side until you achieve a slight stretch. Repeat this for a total of six reps with a turn to the right and a turn to the left counting as one rep. After you complete all the reps on one side, move the legs to the other side of the body and repeat.

3. Single-Leg Rock Back Stretch

Begin on all fours with the core engaged. Extend one leg straight out to the side, placing the foot flat on the ground. With the entire body braced, sink the hips straight back until you achieve a slight stretch through the extended leg. Hold the position at your end range of motion for about 15 seconds. Return the leg back to the starting position and extend the opposite leg to stretch the other side. Repeat this movement three times on each side for 15 seconds per stretch.

4. World's Greatest Stretch

Standing tall, engage your core to prepare for movement. Extend your left leg back behind you and lunge so the back knee comes to rest on the floor. Place both hands to the inside of the right foot, lunging forward to get into your left hip flexor. Externally rotate the body toward the front knee, reaching the right hand high as you keep the left hand flat on the ground. Exhale as you reach up and feel the stretch. Return the right arm back down to the floor, then step the left leg forward to come back to the starting position. Step the right leg back and repeat the movement on the other side. Aim for a total of 10 reps, or five on each side.

These hip mobility drills are excellent tools to keep the hips healthy and functioning well. Work through these exercises with the directed sets and reps three to five times a week. Soon, you'll start to feel a difference in your hips and perhaps some of that resentment for your desk might just fade away.

*If you are dealing with severe pain and are unsure how to mitigate it, or need to get assessed/diagnosed, please consult a qualified professional or physician.
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Member Comments

These might be great hip exercises, but not doable for someone with bad knees. Can you offer modified versions? Report
Thank you Report
Stretch, stretch, stretch Report
Thank you for the good advice Report
Good advice, thanks. Report
Not after my Total knee replacement Report
Oh yeah Report
These look as if they would be useful and even feel good. But I can’t go down on my knees at all. Maybe you could add some modified ways to do exercise Report
Great information, I sit at a desk 8 hours a day! Thanks! Report
Great way to get moving. Report
Thank you! Report
I think these exercises would be great except I can go down on my knees. I have two TKR’s. Are there any modified versions for people with knee issues. These are exercises I really need. Right now I go to a massage therapist to relieve the extreme pain around my hip area from sitting in my bus. Report
thanks Report


About The Author

Timothy Danchak
Timothy Danchak
Tim is a strength coach, wellness instructor and functional training specialist in North Carolina. His primary focus is working with general and special populations to regain proper movement mechanics and improve total body strength. Tim's passion is focused on enhancing overall quality of life and pain-free performance for his clients.