3 Tests & Stretches to Discover & Relieve Hip Tightness


Hip joint tightness is very common and can lead to many body aches and injuries. Their central location, ball-and-socket shape, and the 17 muscles that attach to them contribute to the importance of these joints in our system.


The two hip joints comprise our leg bones (the ball) and our pelvis (the socket). They live between our lower back and our knees with muscle attachments that span between the two. Any mobility restrictions in our hips directly impact the functional movement of these nearby joints.


Our hips are anatomically designed to give us freedom of motion, enabling us to do everything we love. When they are restricted, the impact on our everyday life is profound. However, it may not be evident that our hips are limited, as the resulting symptoms often surface as low back or knee pain.


Our lower backs and knees frequently take up the slack and need to move more when our hips are tight. These joints prefer to stabilize us but have to take on a new role when our hips refuse to move as designed. Layers of movement dysfunction are established, leading us down the wrong rabbit hole when attempting to care for our bodies.


Therefore, we must recognize hip tightness before compensating and suffering in other areas of our bodies. But how do we do this? Thankfully, orthopedic medicine and kinesiology experts have developed several tests to measure our hip motion. These tests are often clustered together and utilized by professionals to diagnose hip pathologies.


It would be inappropriate and beyond the scope of this blog to go into the details of these tests. However, three of these hip mobility tests can be beneficial for an individual to assess the status of their hips. These tests include:


  1. Thomas Test

  2. FABER

  3. Seated Hip Internal Rotation


Give these a try, and if any of them are limited, you can start by attempting to stretch the muscle(s) that may be causing the restriction. The following stretches can be helpful.


  1. Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor + Quad Stretch

  2. Seated Figure-4 Stretch

  3. Windshield Wiper


It is critical to know that hip joint restriction goes beyond the simplicity of muscle tightness. Limited hip movement can also be from ligament or capsular tightness, an impaired labrum or cartilage, arthritis, bone spur, the shape of the joint itself, and other systemic pathologies. It can be very complicated, and each condition requires a different treatment approach.


However, starting by gaining knowledge of the current mobility status of your hips and attempting to treat the muscle by stretching is an excellent place to start. When you stretch, it should feel like a comfortable pull. If stretching hurts or you experience sharp pain, catching, locking, numbness, or giving out, you must reach out to your local medical professional.


 

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