Whether you’re walking up the stairs, running a race or doing a set of stepups, your hips and core are crucial for almost all movements and yet they are often neglected.
Having good hip flexibility is important because many exercises that require stability at the hip joints depend on it such as single-leg squats and lunges.
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1. Increased Stability
While most fitness enthusiasts focus on toning their abs and sculpting their glutes, your hip muscles particularly the iliopsoas and hip adductor muscles play a crucial role in keeping your body upright and stable. Regular hip workouts strengthen these important muscles and improve balance and stability, reducing your risk of injury.
Hip exercises, like the hip thrust or bridges, also help strengthen your legs and hamstrings. Stronger hips mean better leg strength, which can lead to increased power and speed in athletic movements.
2. Lower Risk of Injury
Most movement we do in daily life is linear, meaning it moves along a straight line. This is also true for the exercises most people do at the gym such as biking, running and ellipticals.
This lack of lateral movement can cause the hip muscles to become tight and short, leading to an increased risk of injury. Exercises like clamshells and hip abduction help to strengthen the muscles that are important for balance and stability.
This helps lower the risk of falls which are a common cause of hip fractures. These fractures can be devastating with many of those who have them spending a year or more in a wheelchair after the injury.
3. Better Posture
When your hip muscles are strong they’ll help you maintain a neutral pelvic position and reduce slouching. This, in turn, improves the distribution of fluids like blood throughout your body and may decrease future joint and muscle pain.
It’s easy to hunch over at your desk all day without even realizing it, especially if you have a sedentary job. But building proper posture takes awareness and training the muscles that support it including your deep core, spine and hips.
4. Faster Recovery
The more you use the hip muscles, the better they can recover from injury or surgery. That’s why surgeons and physical therapists start patients right away with hip exercises.
You can even perform them while recovering from a knee or hip replacement. The key is to choose low-impact exercises.
For example, a single leg glute bridge (called the clam exercise in JOSPT) strengthens the gluteus medius without irritating already inflamed hip bursitis. You can do this exercise while lying down or using an elliptical machine or walking on the treadmill.
5. Better Balance
During sports such as running the hip muscles are important for maintaining balance. Weak or tight hip muscles can affect your overall performance and increase the risk of injury.
Learn about the benefits of strong hip muscles preventing pain in the lower back, knees and feet enhancing balance.
Fall-related injuries are a major problem among older people but you can improve your balance muscle strength and flexibility to decrease your risk of falls.
6. Stronger Core
Hip-strengthening exercises like the ones outlined here help strengthen your core. That’s good news if you want to avoid injuries and perform better in other workouts.
A strong core can help you lift heavier, jump higher and run faster. Plus, it can help reduce lower back pain and prevent injuries.
Hip-strengthening exercises can also help preserve and increase bone density, which is important for women as they age. That’s why they should be a staple in any resistance training routine.
7. Flatter Abs
Strong hip muscles crisscross your midsection like spiderwebs attaching to the abs and back muscles. When the hips are tight those other muscles pick up the slack which can lead to injury, pain and even a rounding of the abdomen.
To get a flatter stomach, do regular total-body workouts that target multiple muscle groups. Try squats, lunges, and power cleans. Adding these moves to your routine will help you lose belly fat and strengthen core and hip muscles, too.
8. Stronger Legs
Your hip muscles are critical for most of the lower body movements you perform in daily life. They allow you to walk, jog, run, jump, squat, kick and climb without straining your knees or back.
Tight or weak hip muscles can cause other muscle groups to compensate, leading to injuries and inefficient movement patterns. Regular hip exercises can help prevent this.
Try simple leg strengthening exercises like seated leg lifts and hip circles. Then, try incorporating more challenging moves like good mornings and reverse flies.