Help for Tight Hips

First of all, tight hips do not exist by themselves. The experience of contracted hip flexors is a relationship between many functions, most notably the hips, low back, and belly. Here are some options to help alleviate this experience. (Note: if any experiment doesn't feel comfortable, don't do it. Do what works and don't force it.)

1. Lean the knee: Choose a spot a little away from a wall to lie on your back with your knees bent. Lean the knee closest to wall on the wall. Find a distance where the knee can really lean out to the side and give the weight over to the wall. Rest there a few seconds, then barely activate the musculature required to bring the knee to vertical, then let it go again. The knee will not break contact with the wall, it's just the whisper of activating the pattern.

Each time you lean against the wall, feel what lets go in your hip, belly, and back. Then activate the musculature and feel what engages in your hip, belly and back. Do this slowly a number of times, each time letting the leg really rest. Pause with your legs long and compare what you feel side to side. Do the other leg.

2. Stir the pot: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Interlace the fingers around the front of one knee. Hold the sides of the knee with your hand, as if you could hold the thigh bone (femur) between your hands. Imagine the bone is a big wooden spoon and stir the knee around in circles. Feel how if you let go, the leg would fall. You are taking over the work with your hands. The hip is passive.

The task is not to make circles, but to make circles by giving the weight of the leg to the hands. Go slow and feel the knee drawing circles, and feel the other end of the femur making the opposite circle in the hip socket. Rest when you need to, then come back to it. Attend to the pelvis: any circles there? Soften the breath, jaw, belly, and eyes. Set the foot down and compare the two legs. What do you feel? Do the other leg.

3. Plunk the leg. Lie down with your knees bent. Grab hold of one of your pant legs to lift the foot off the floor. Or, if it's summer or you're clothing is stretchy, wrap a towel under the leg and hold the ends to pull the foot off the floor. Then, let it fall back to the floor! Do this again, each time giving the weight of the leg over to the hands. Let it fall back with a thud. Lift slowly so there's no sneaky holding in the hip socket. The instinct is to grip and activate all kinds of stuff in the hip. Take your time to allow the hip to let go and trust the support of the arms. Lift less high into the air so the thud is safe. Then lift a little higher. Rest a moment, feel both legs. Do the other leg.

4. Dangle the leg. In standing, tilt to one side. Drop your hand down toward the knee and fold the ribs. Your head and shoulders will go to the side also. Feel how the weight transfers into this foot. With the other, less weighted, foot, lift and lower the heel. Keep the toes on the floor and make a light, flowing movement of bringing the knee forward and back. Try slightly different directions, a little left, a little right. Allow the leg to hang heavily in the socket. Can you feel the weight of the bone just hanging there? Do many movements, very light and easy. Then walk around. What do you notice? Do the other leg.