The hip joints play an important role in almost all movement in the lower body. With every step you take, your hip joints are engaged as they help carry you from one place to the next.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for individuals to experience limitations in their hip mobility, which can cause intense pain and hinder movement. Luckily, there are often some simple solutions that can help you regain hip flexibility and reduce discomfort.
In this article, we’ll discuss the origin of most hip issues from a Qi Gong and Chinese Medicine perspective. We’ll also share a few exercises that you can use to help increase hip mobility.
The Root Cause of Hip Issues
While there are many different kinds of hip issues, many of them have the same root causes that result from a lack of movement: stiffness and stagnation.
What does it mean when stiffness and stagnation occur in your hip joint?
In both eastern and western medicine, it’s widely recognized that a lack of movement leads to stiffness. If you’ve ever taken a twelve-hour plane ride, you know how stiff your legs and hips feel when you stand up to walk off the plane.
Stagnation refers to energy that isn’t flowing through your body in a healthy way. Like stiffness, stagnation is usually the result of a lack of movement.
In other words, your body is meant to be used for movement. When you don’t move in a variety of ways, your body becomes stiff and your energy becomes stagnant.
Why Sitting Too Long Is Harmful
It’s said that sitting is the new smoking. In the twenty-first century, it’s widely known that smoking is harmful to your health, but a lot of people don’t really think about the negative effects associated with sitting too long.
The chair sitting position is one of the worst positions for your hip joints over a long period of time. When you sit, not only are you resting much of your weight on your hip joints, but they’re also completely immobile. As mentioned above, a lack of movement leads to stiffness and stagnation, and that’s exactly what happens when you’re sitting.
Unfortunately, modern society is full of activities performed in the sitting position. Driving, working on the computer, and watching TV are just a few common examples.
To address (or prevent) hip and lower back pain, one simple step you can take is to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting. Instead of watching TV, perhaps go on a walk. Instead of sitting at a table to work, maybe find a standing desk that allows you to be in an upright position. Of course, you probably won’t be able to avoid sitting completely, but you can at least find ways to reduce how much you sit.
Additionally, it’s always a good idea to take breaks when you’re doing a sitting activity. If you’re working on your computer, perhaps set an alarm clock to remind you to get up every 45 minutes in order to stretch your legs and go on a brief walk. Even just three to five minutes can go a long way in preventing stiffness and stagnation.
Of course, Qi Gong is another simple yet powerful way to maintain flexibility and fluidity in your hip joints.
Using Qi Gong to Increase Hip Mobility
A lot of people don’t exercise enough because they believe that exercise is difficult and strenuous. However, Qi Gong provides just the right amount of exertion to allow you to experience many of the benefits of exercise without the challenges that deter some people from doing it.
Qi Gong uses slow, flowing movements to help individuals cultivate strength and flexibility within the body. Since it’s a gentle form of exercise, it’s accessible to everyone and doesn’t carry the risk of injury.
Qi Gong also offers a wide variety of practices to help people with many different ailments, including hip issues.
Below, we’ve included three simple exercises that can help you increase hip flexibility and reduce pain.
Three Hip Flexibility Exercises
For all three of these exercises, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Below, we’ll provide written instructions for each of these exercises, followed by a video lesson for the same exercises.
1. Knocking on the Door of Life
Start by taking a few deep breaths as you let yourself relax. Feel your feet on the floor and pay attention to the sensations in your body.
After a few deep breaths, start to rotate your upper body gently back and forth. As you move, let your arms sway gently and allow your hands to tap on your body.
When you rotate to the left, your left hand should tap on your lower back while your right hand taps on your lower abdomen. When you rotate to the right, your right hand should tap on your lower back when your left hand taps on your lower abdomen.
This exercise activates the energy in your lower abdomen, also known as the “Lower Tan Tien.” It’s great for the hips because it gently increases their mobility and activates healing energy.
After a minute or two, return to the center and take another deep breath.
2. Hip Spirals
Hip Spirals (a.k.a. Oiling the Joints) is a great exercise for loosening the hips and increasing flexibility.
With your feet still shoulder-width apart, place your hands on your hips. Your right hand should be on your right hip and your left hand should be on your left hip.
Start to rotate your hips in a big circle. It doesn’t matter which direction you go because you’ll switch directions after a minute or two. As you rotate, gently test the limits of your flexibility without hurting yourself. It should give you a nice stretch.
After going in both directions, return to your center.
3. Tea Cups
For the third exercise, Tea Cups, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands in front of you, slightly above face level, with your fingers pointing behind you. Your palms will face up during this entire exercise. This exercise is called “Tea Cups” because you should imagine that you’re holding a tray of teacups that must remain upright at all times.
When you’re ready to begin, start to rotate your hips in one direction just like you did in the previous exercise. As you rotate your hips, you should rotate your hands in the same direction. You’ll notice that in order to rotate your hands you’ll need to lower and circle them so that the tips of your fingers point toward your body.
As your hips come forward, your hands will rotate up and above your head to the position you started in.
You will do this exercise in both directions for a couple of minutes. When you’re done, return to your center, take a few deep breaths, and go about your day.
Below, we’ve included a video lesson in which Lee teaches some additional exercises for hip mobility.
Even just a couple of minutes of Qi Gong can make a world of difference in how your body feels.
If you’re interested in trying some free Qi Gong video lessons, be sure to check out our Two-Week Trial.
Two-Week Qi Gong Trial
Our two-week trial is the perfect way to give Qi Gong a try. When you sign up, you’ll gain immediate access to five unique video lessons, each of which is taught by master teacher, Lee Holden.
All of the lessons include more great hip exercises that can help you increase hip flexibility and let go of pain.
While Qi Gong is a wonderful tool for addressing hip issues, it also offers a vast variety of additional benefits. Some of the core benefits include reducing stress, increasing energy, and cultivating emotional balance. Click on the banner below to learn more and start practicing today.