If you are a runner and you would like to either improve your performance or decrease your injury risk, this may be for you!
Before we talk about hip mobility, I’d like to clear up the use of the words mobility and flexibility. They are commonly used to talk about the same thing, however, they have subtle differences. Mobility applies to the joint’s overall range of motion, whilst flexibility applies to the muscle length itself.
Both are important for good overall function, especially in runners!
The importance of Hip Mobility
Without hip mobility, runners would be unable to hold correct postures and positions when sprinting short distances or running for prolonged periods and it would also have a negative effect on the ability for the muscles to produce power optimally.
There are four main movements of the hip that are important for runners; extension, flexion, internal rotation and external rotation. These movements allow us to take off, push into the ground beneath us and propel us forward!
Without hip mobility it is unlikely that you will be to perform at your best and you could be more prone to lower limb injuries; which can involve the calf, achilles tendon, hamstrings, and foot/ankle – and that is where a great mobility like the lizard pose can help out!
Remember, the hips are the powerhouse for the lower part of the body. They are the control centre for our knees and ankles and surrounding muscles. We need to look after them!
What should I do?
If you think your hips are tight you may experience lower back tightness, calf tightness, achilles tightness as well as hamstring tightness. You also may feel tight and restricted at the front of your hips and struggle with basic daily movements. Some people report after a walk or after a long run that they can feel a pinching sensation or pain in their hip.
If you think this might be you try this test below:
TEST: Hugging knee to chest whilst lying on your back
What you may feel: tight feeling in the front of the hip or a pinching sensation where your hip flexors are
If you are feeling this pinch, it likely means that you need more mobility through your hip joint and would benefit greatly from the lizard pose stretch (also known as Utthan Pristhasana in Yoga)
The Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
- The beginning position is the downward facing dog. You will inhale during this part of the movement.
- Next you will step your right foot onto the outside of your right hand palm down on the floor, ensuring that your right foot comes as far forward as you can with your toes in line with the fingers on your right hand, exhaling as you complete this. Your right knee is bent at 90 degrees in this position on top of the ankle. Ideally your toes should be pointed outwards at roughly 45 degrees.
- Bring your elbows down to the floor whilst inhaling, until your forearms are flat on the mat. If you are able, spread your palms and fingers out on the floor.
- Throughout this exercise, focus on keeping your head in a neutral, relaxed position.
- Focus on pressing into your left heel for muscle activation, whilst exhaling.
- Maintain this position whilst performing 4 to 6 slow deep breaths.
- Once you have completed this, slowly exhale whilst straightening your arms until your wrists are under your shoulders.
- Move back into the starting downward facing dog position whilst inhaling slowly.
- Maintain the downward facing dog pose for 3 to 4 slow deep breaths
- Repeat the above steps with your left leg moving forwards this time.
- Aim: hold the lizard pose stretch for 30 seconds and relax into the stretch, breathing deeply as you feel it through your hip flexors
This is a common yoga pose that yoga teachers will prescribe to runners who are struggling with hip mobility to improve performance and decrease the risk of injury.
Give it a go and let us know how you do!