It’s an understatement to say that hip mobility exercises are important for high-level cyclists and triathletes. Limited hip range-of-motion is a popular plague, and very few athletes truly know how to tackled tight hips.
By dedicating 10+ minutes a day practicing some of these hip mobility exercises, you can experience profound changes in hip range-of-motion and overall athletic performance.
Even if you’re not injured, dabbling with these hip mobilizations can help to free-up hip impingements and restrictions that may be inhibiting your breathing, pedal stroke, and overall potential to generate power and cultivate efficiency.
Below are few preliminary pointers to keep in mind when performing these hip mobilizations. Deeply engrain these tips your subconscious, as respecting these rules will enable you to see better results, 10-fold:
- Breathing is number one. Lead into each mobilization with your breath, gradually and mindfully.
- If certain mobilization cause a hot, burning sensation, then lay off.
- Dedicate at least 2 minutes to each mobilization. 5-10 minutes will create the greatest change, but let 2 minutes be the minimum.
- Experiment with 2-5 second contraction and slow releases when you find tight knots and hot spots. Combine this with deep breathing and long exhales on the release.
- Take systematic approach to your mobilization exercises. Test (before mobilizing) and retest (after mobilizing) to note changes (i.e. do a few squats before and after each hip mobility exercise and notice any changes.)
First, Diaphragm Mobility Exercises
Prime Yourself For Deeper Hip Mobilizations With Global Gut Smashing
The muscles of the diaphragm are often the most neglected yet tacked-down areas among cyclists. After a 5-10 minute session of performing one of these mobilizations, you may experience immediate improvements in diaphragm mechanics and ability to take super deep breathes.
The first diaphragm mobilization is a global gut smash presented by Dr. Danny Matta at Athletes’ Potential. Find a soft, basketball-sized ball (like a children’s ball) for this.
As cited in the last video, Jill Miller of Yoga Tune Up® shares a few tips to get the most from your global gut smashing.
In addition to a children’s ball, you can also lay over kettlebell handle or perhaps try gut smashing with the MobilityWOD Supernova Ball or the Alpha Ball from Yoga Tune Up on top of thick text book.
Gut smashing is great way to down-regulate at night, or unglue your diaphragm muscles after a long ride in the aero position. Not only do these global abdominal and hip mobilizations help free-up tight diaphragm muscles, but the down-regulation benefits can help you get great sleep.
Now, The Gnarliest Hip Mobility Exercises
Go To Battle On Tight Psoas & Iliacus Knots Restricting Hip Flexion & Hip Extensions
Similar to the gut smash mobilizations above, these next flossing and smashing techniques are more precise in softening gnarly knots found deep in the psoas and iliacus muscles (two common culprits to poor pedaling mechanics.)
Kelly Starrett of Mobility WOD shares a solid mobilization targeting the hip flexors (psoas and iliacus), as well as hip capsule.
Note: “Make sure to add movement,” sneak in obliquely,” and maintain a “pleasant disposition face.”
Limited hip range-of-motion can not only inhibit a triathlete’s cycling potential, but also running mechanics off the bike. If this mobility exercise is too uncomfortable, you’ve definitely got some work to do. Try more subtle techniques of laying over lacrosse ball, Kettlebell handle, or perhaps something softer like a tennis ball.
The More Stretchy/Yogi Hip Mobility Exercises
Although this 30-minute mobility class from Roop Sihota (Jagroop) is focal to the butt and low back, many of the mobilizations in this video are some of the best hip mobility exercises, especially in the sequence Roop presents each one.
The first hip mobility exercise starts at 4:55 in the video. This anterior hip mobilization is more Yin Yoga/deep stretch centric and will work wonders at opening-up your sticky hips. For optimal results, you’ll want a band for this (I suggest the green “Monster Band” at Rogue Fitness).
Continue watching to learn a few more hip mobility exercises that focus on the hip capsule and outer hips (posterior chain: gluteus medius and tensor fasciae latae)
Perhaps more focal to the run leg of triathlon, this early MWOD video from Kelly Starrett centers on hip extension mobility. At about 2:15 into the video below, he delves into the infamous “Couch Stretch”, which is not only a great hip mobility exercise, but also an amazing stretch for your quads. I do at least 2 minutes on each leg after every bike ride.
Lastly: the deep squat hold. Inspired by (you guessed it) Mr. Starrett, maintaining a deep squat position can help restore pelvic tilt and rotation of the spine. Here’s my abbrviated, amatuer version of this tedious hip mobility exercise.
Even if you’re not injured and feel great on the bike, I encourage you to try these hip mobilizations. Chances are you may experience subtle improvements in your pedaling economy and the ability to generate more wattage to the pedals.
Do you have any kick-ass hip mobility exercises to share? Let me know in the comments below. Smash on.