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Body

These & Exercises for Mobility Will Assist With Hip Rigidity During Extended Periods of Sitting at a Desk

Theoretically, the hips are among the most flexible joints in the body, as they can move along various axes by flexing and extending, abducting and adducting, and internally and externally rotating.

In practical terms, however, anyone who spends all day sitting at a desk knows that within a few hours, the hips can begin to feel… stiff.

This occurs because when we sit for prolonged periods, our hip flexors and lower back muscles become accustomed to being in a shortened position, according to Tanner Neuberger, a physical therapist at Athletico Physical Therapy in Des Moines, Iowa. Additionally, when we remain sedentary for an extended period without movement, the synovial fluid thickens, which leads to increased resistance in the joint.

Besides the discomfort of experiencing stiff hips after sitting for a while, you might notice decreased mobility in other areas such as the knees or lower back, states Neuberger. This can make the warm-up process for safe exercise longer and more challenging.

However, there is hope for those with sedentary jobs facing hip stiffness: Neuberger suggests exercises to combat this issue. He advises incorporating these seven movements throughout the day to break up prolonged sitting periods.

1. Stretch for Hip Flexors in Half Kneeling Position

Assume a kneeling position with your right foot planted in front and your left knee on the ground, creating right angles with the knees and elongating the spine. Activate the left glute to gently move the pelvis forward until you feel a slight stretch in the front of the left hip. Slowly rock back and forth without arching the back. Perform two sets of 15 repetitions on each side. For a deeper stretch as the hip flexor loosens, engage the lumbar spine by reaching the left arm up and across to the right when the right foot is planted.

2. Pigeon Pose

Extend the left leg straight behind you on the floor with the right leg in front, the right hip externally rotated, the right knee bent at a right angle, the shin perpendicular to the body, and the foot flexed. With square hips, lean forward to stretch, supporting yourself on either the hands or elbows based on your hip flexibility. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

3. Internal Rotation Stretch while Lying on Stomach

Lie face down with the right knee bent at a 90-degree angle and rotate internally from the hip joint, gently sending the right foot out to the side. Perform two sets of 15 reps on each side, holding the stretch with the foot out to the side for a few seconds if it feels beneficial.

4. Leg Lift while Lying on Stomach

While lying on your stomach with both legs straight, contract the right glute to lift the right leg. The range of motion should be limited—stop before you engage the lower back. Keep both hips pressed against the floor throughout. Complete two sets of 15 reps on each side.

5. Leg Lift while Lying on Side or Standing

While lying on your side with the bottom leg bent, raise your top leg up and slightly back to activate your glute medius (upper corner of the working glute). If you feel tension in the front of your hip, focus on lifting the leg further back. Do two sets of 15 reps on each side. To advance, try the exercise while standing, ensuring your upper body remains still and your hips stay level.

6. Hip Bridges

While lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, bring your heels close to your buttocks. Engage the core and squeeze the glutes to lift the hips into a bridge position, feeling the hip flexors stretch. Perform two sets of 15 reps.

7. Squats

Stand with your legs slightly wider than hip distance apart, arms outstretched or on your hips. Perform squats by hinging at the hips, shifting weight back into the heels, and lowering your buttocks towards the floor. Complete two sets of 15 reps.

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