hip stretches

October 5, 2016

Do your hips swagger like they are suppose to? I am talking about booty shaking hip rotation like the runway models men and women display on the catwalk.  That’s what they are suppose to do, but chances are if you are reading this you have neglected stretching your deep muscles in the hips and made them even tighter with all that sitting. I recently had to start attacking these muscles again as my kayaking and running were being affected by nagging pains and weakness in certain exercises.

I was telling a client the other day that we often avoid exercises that are hard or where we are tight, but those are the ones we need to address first as we are only as strong as our weakest link. Needless to say I have avoided this stretch because it is very uncomfortable, burns and downright hurts at times. That’s why it’s called the “Fire Log Pose” in yoga or other names listed below.

Fire Log Pose is a seated yoga posture that provides a deep stretch to the outer hips. It is also referred to Knee-to-Ankle Pose, Double Pigeon, stacking logs and Square Pose. This pose requires flexibility in the lower body, including the outer hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, lower back, and glutes. It is often practiced toward the end of a yoga class when the body is warm and limber. I must say if I waited until I did a yoga class to do this stretch then it would never happen.  stacking-legs-rt-leg-on-top-tight-sitting-uprightstacking-legs-rt-leg-on-top-tight-lean-forward334

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at the pictures above.  The first 2 pictures were taken at time of this blog post Oct. 2016.  Look closely at the middle picture where I am leaning forward. Notice how much space is between the bottom of my top knee and my shoe as well as look how rounded my upper back is as I try my best to lean forward. The picture on the far right was taken 13 years ago when I was doing a lot more stretching and before I injured my SI joint–not to mention being younger might have been helpful. 😉

Click here to download our Stretch Zone Seated Hips & Glutes exercise pdf.

Benefits of Fire Log Pose

This pose provides a deep stretch to the hips, opening the outer hips and buttocks. It also stretches and strengthens the groin, thighs, calves, and abdominal muscles. This pose gently stimulates the abdominal organs, which helps to regulate digestion and metabolism.

Sitting upright with your spine aligned calms the mind and relieves anxiety and mental tension. It also helps you to prepare for meditation and breathing exercises. Regularly practicing this pose can be therapeutic for stress.

Cautions

Avoid practicing this pose if you have a recent or chronic injury to the knees, hips, or lower back. Fire Log Pose requires flexibility and self-awareness to be performed correctly. Do not attempt to learn Fire Log Pose on your own without the guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable instructor. It is very easy to injure your knees and lower back if you try to move into it too soon. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.

Below are a few times I force myself to stretch. When and where can you squeeze it into your lifestyle?

  • kids’ soccer practice
  • kids’ scouting meetings
  • long car trips when I’m a passenger
  • sitting in my office chair at laptop doing blog posts or other work
  • lying in bed reading
  • with kids on floor
  • kids’ tae kwon do classes
  • end of cardio or weight workouts
  • tv watching (seldom watch tv)

Modifications & Variations

Fire Log Pose can be difficult for those with tight hips. It can be challenging to find the correct alignment and hold the pose! Be sure to make whatever modifications you need to feel safe, supported, and steady in the pose. Here are a few suggestions:

  • If your bottom knee doesn’t rest on the floor, support it with a folded, firm blanket.
  • If your top knee sits far from your bottom ankle, place a folded blanket between your knee and ankle for extra support.
  • For those with extremely tight hips, practice the pose seated in a chair. Leaving one foot flat on the floor, cross the opposite ankle over the knee of the grounded foot. Hold the pose for up to one minute, and then repeat on the opposite side.
  • For more back support, sit with your back against a wall. Another variation is to place a yoga block between the wall and your shoulder blades.
  • To deepen the stretch, press your hands against your feet. Then with your feet, resist against your hands as you fold forward.

Here are some other modified hip opening stretches that may be helpful in helping you build up to Fire Log Pose. Kids these days call cross-legged stretching “criss cross applesauce” aka: Indian-style for those that remember that’s what it used to be called years back.

How long should I hold the stretches & what are some other stretches I can do to help me if I’m having a hard time with the Fire log pose?

30 seconds just gets the blood flowing in the muscles and you temporarily feel more limber. 60 seconds is better and what most people have the patience to hold a stretch.  3-5 minutes is best and physiologically lengthens the muscles if done everyday for 6 weeks.

stacking-legs-modified-criss-cross stacking-legs-rt-leg-on-top-lying-back

x-legged-glute-stretch-against-wall

lower-body-modified-pigeion-pose-stretch-bend-back-leg

 

internal-rotation-leg-open-pigeion-pose-stretch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to download our Stretch Zone Seated Hips & Glutes exercise pdf.

Bottom Line:

Get to stretching if you don’t want to have that waddle of an older person! If you’re an athlete, you will gain more strength in your workout sessions as well as more range of motion.

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Energy Fitness, 552 South Main, Memphis, TN
Tonya Tittle, M.S., ACSM, FLT Metagenics
Owner/Dir. of Training

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