Can you squat down until you almost sit on the floor while keeping your feet flat on the floor too? Can you bend down and touch your toes? If not, it is time to work on some hip and lower body mobility! Because we spend too much time sitting, several muscles in our lower body, especially hip flexors and hamstrings, can easily become tight which impacts our ability to move functionally and pain free in everyday life as well as in our workouts. To improve the pain free range of motion of tight lower body muscles, you can include the below stretches in your routine a few times a week.
Low wide squat with knees out (adductors and ankle mobility)
Squat down as low as you can while keeping your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Then push your knees out with your elbows and hold for at least 10 seconds.
Wide “happy baby” pose (adductors, lower back)
Lie on your back and grab the outsides of your feet. Make sure your knees stay in line with your feet (pull your feet towards your face). Pull your knees down towards the floor while pushing them out. Try to keep your whole back on the floor and hold for at least 10 seconds.
Quadruped adductor rocks (adductors)
Get on one knee and straighten the other leg out to the side until you feel a stretch on the inside of your thigh. Make sure the foot of the straight leg stays flat on the floor. Support yourself by putting your hands or elbows on the floor in front of you while keeping your back straight. Now, rock backwards and forwards slowly and controlled and hold the stretch for a bit every time you are in the furthest back position. Do this at least 10 times on one leg, and then switch to the other leg.
Low side lunge (adductors, ankle mobility, hamstrings, calves)
Start standing with your feet wide apart and lower yourself down to one side; bending one knee while the other leg stays straight. Lower yourself as far as you can while your foot on the side with the bent leg stays flat on the floor. Push the knee out. Then, pull the toes of the foot on the straight leg towards you and push your butt towards the floor. You should feel a stretch on the inner thigh of your bent leg and down your whole straight leg. Hold for at least 10 seconds on each side.
Lizard stretch with rotation (adductors, ankle mobility, hip flexors, thoracic rotation)
Get on one knee and move the opposite foot forward until you are in a wide lunge with the back knee on the floor. Your knee should be in line with your ankle in the front leg. Place the hand or elbow on the same side as your back leg on the floor and rotate your upper body up and towards your front leg. Hold for at least ten seconds. Then switch sides and repeat.
Kneeling hip flexor stretch (hip flexors)
Get on one knee and place the opposite foot on the floor so that you roughly have right angles in both knees. Make yourself tall and push your butt forward until you feel a stretch in the hip flexor on the side of the kneeling leg. Hold for at least 10 seconds on each side.
Kneeling hip flexor and quad stretch (hip flexors and quads)
Repeat all the steps of the previous pose (kneeling hip flexor stretch), and additionally grab your back foot and pull it up towards you. You can use a yoga strap or a towel if you cannot reach your foot with your hand. Hold for at least 10 seconds each side.
Kneeling hamstring stretch (hamstrings and calves if toes pulling up)
Get on one knee and straighten the other leg out to the front. Place your hands on the floor on each side of your front leg (you can use yoga blocks or any portable higher surfaces to place your hands on if you cannot keep your back straight with your hands on the floor). Then, bend forward from your hip (with a straight back) until you feel a stretch all the way down your front leg. Hold for at least 10 seconds on each side.
Seated glute stretch (glutes, spinal rotation)
Sit with both legs stretched out in front of you. Place one foot to the outside of the other stretched out leg. Hug the bent leg with the opposite arm and twist away from the foot. You should be feeling the stretch in the outside glute/upper leg area of the bent leg. Hold for at least 10 seconds on each side.
Right angle stretch (glutes and hip internal rotation)
Place one leg in front of you and one leg behind you so that you have right angles in both knees and also between both of your legs. First, fold forward over your front leg and hold the glute stretch there for at least 10 seconds (first picture). Then, sit up straight again and aim to push the butt on the side of your back leg towards the floor for hip internal rotation. Also hold this position for at least 10 seconds and then switch sides.
Try these a few times a week after your workouts (or after warming up if you don’t work out) and see how it feels!