If you feel like you have forever tight IT bands or permanently sticky hips, this post is for you.
And even if you don’t read past this sentence, I’d love for you to know that no, it’s not because you’re getting old and yes, you can absolutely do something about it.
You might be thinking, “Uhhhhhhh, but my hips have definitely gotten creakier as I get older.”
While I agree that things can start feel off as we age, correlation doesn’t equal causation.
So why do so many of us have sore, stiff hips?
This could be a loooo-ooong list, but here’s the 3 most common culprits.
1) You sit too much
I’m sure you’re not surprised to read this. You might have heard that sitting is the new smoking. However, what you might not have heard is why sitting is messing up your hips.
So, let’s talk about it.
When you sit, you’re outsourcing the work of your hip and butt muscles to your chair. You’re also locking your hips into a flexed position and building a lot of stiffness into your back. Knowing this, it’s no wonder that your hips feel stiff and achy when you get out of your chair at the end of the day.
If you don’t get up much, sitting might somewhat literally be the only thing your hips have done for several hours! Ever wonder why so many of us have flat butts as we get older? It’s because we’ve spent decades sitting on them instead of using them.
But, what if you have to sit for work?
Should you resign yourself to a life of hip pain and a pancake @ss?
Of course not! But this brings me to my second point.
2) Your hips are weak
Muscles that aren’t used get weak. Lots of sitting means lots of underused hip muscles and weakness can equal tightness.
Wait…what? Aren’t tight muscles overly strong muscles? Let me back that up.
We used to think that muscle tightness was caused by strong, short muscles and while this could be the case, oftentimes it’s not.
It’s now believed that stiffness and soreness are caused by signal from the nervous system that is sent out when the body perceives weakness or instability around a joint.
Hence why weak muscles = hurty hips and why strengthening those muscles is sometimes more effective than stretching for improving flexibility and reducing pain.
But what if you’re active? You go hiking. You run or walk. You lift weights. And you still struggle with hip discomfort? What’s that about?
3) You don’t use your hips in their fullest range of motion
I agree it’s not fair, but when it comes to building strong, stable hips, not all activities are created equal.
You have lots of muscles in the hips specialized for different tasks, but for simplicity’s sake, they can be split into two categories – big mover muscles (the mirror muscles) and posture muscles (stabilizers).
The big mover muscles are responsible for moving you through space. They fire when you walk, squat and jump.
The posture muscles are responsible for keeping you balanced and holding you in good alignment.
Ideally, your posture muscles are working all the time, but if you don’t move enough ::cough, cough, sitting:: or you only move in repetitive linear motions like running or squatting, then they check out and you experience stiffness or soreness.
Most of us (including those of us who workout) are strong in the big mover muscles and weak in the posture muscles.
This is how it’s possible to be strong and weak at the same time. Who da thunk it?
And that’s nice information to have and all, but what can you DO about it?
Well…I’ve created something to address these very issues 😉
The #HipsDontLie Free Challenge starts next Monday June 4th and for 5 days, you’ll get simple exercises + strategies to decrease hip tension + stiffness and help you move better.