Yoga Poses to Improve Hip Mobility

by Karlee Picard, PT, DPT

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Hip mobility is important for people of all ages. It is controlled via the hip joint and corresponding musculature. The hip joint – a ball and socket joint – connects the femur (thigh bone) to the pelvis and is capable of performing six specific motions: flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, external rotation and internal rotation. Hip pain may be caused by reduced mobility throughout one or multiple motions and can be translated up or down the kinetic chain, consequently causing back or lower extremity pain. Therefore, it’s vital to have and maintain good hip mobility.

As we age, hip mobility is reduced. Poor mobility can lead to dysfunctional gait patterns, pain and biomechanical imbalances. Yoga, however, can be implemented to improve hip mobility and the pain associated with it. Some common yoga poses include pigeon, happy baby, crescent lunge, warrior one and triangle pose.

Pigeon (30 sec hold each side)

Pigeon is a good pose to improve hip external rotation mobility and hip flexor flexibility. To perform this pose, begin in downward dog, kick one leg into the air, pointing your toe. Then hug your knee into your chest, externally rotate your hip and place your shin on the ground perpendicular to your body. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds. Repeat for each side.

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Happy Baby (10-60 sec hold)

Happy Baby is a wonderful yoga pose to improve hip mobility by targeting your inner thighs (adductors). To perform this pose, begin by laying on your back and hugging your knees into your chest with your feet facing upward, as if you are stomping on the ceiling. Grab the outer edge of each foot and pull each foot closer into your chest. Hold this pose for at least 10 seconds but no longer than 60 seconds.

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Crescent Lunge (10-60 sec hold each side)

Crescent Lunge is a great yoga pose to improve hip flexor mobility. Hip flexors are the muscles located in the front of your thigh. These muscles get very tight from sitting for prolonged periods of time. To perform this pose, begin in a half kneeling position. Lift the back knee off the ground, plant the ball of your foot on the ground and extend your knee. Reach your hands overhead for an added challenge. Hold this pose for at least 10 seconds but no longer than 60 seconds. Repeat for each side.

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Warrior One (30-60 sec hold each side)

Warrior One is a good yoga pose to improve hip extension and external rotation mobility. Begin in downward dog. Step the right foot forward, landing inside the right hand. In this position, pivot the back foot so that it is flat on the ground at a 45 degree angle. Bend the right knee over the right foot. Raise each arm up to the side and gaze toward the front hand. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat for each side.

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Triangle Pose (30-60 sec hold each side)

Triangle Pose is a good pose to improve hip adductor flexibility. Stand on a yoga mat with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Raise your arms out to the sides to shoulder level with outstretched hands. Turn one foot toward the front of your mat, keeping the opposite foot parallel to the short side of the mat. Straighten the front leg. Side bend your trunk toward the front leg reaching the same hand toward the ground and reaching the opposite hand upward. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat for each side.

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Feel free to reach out with questions or to expand your yoga or mobility routine.

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