Foam roller exercises for hip opening can enhance your body-mind connection. Hip opening helps you release control and open yourself for creativity and pleasure to flow into your life! Many, many people have tight, tight hips, and often are unaware until they start a yoga or foam rolling practice. Read on to assess your own hips health!
'Prepare to meet yourself through your body. This body … this moment … this breath.' ~ Michael Lee
I approach foam roller exercises and stretches from the body-mind
perspective. The body-mind connection is very strong and often there
are metaphysical reasons for our physical pain. What actions we perform
on our bodies, we perform on our minds and our souls as well. If you want to develop intuition when using your foam roller, you can!
This foam rolling article is more about hip stretches, specifically hip opening exercises. I have discussed each individual hip muscle in other foam roller exercise pages. I also target each and every hip muscle separately: the iliopsoas muscle, the gluteus muscle, the piriformis muscle, the adductor muscles and the abductors (Iliotibial Band and Tensor Fasciae Latae).
Body-mind-soul healing happens on a foam roller when you do these exercises mindfully and in a meditative fashion. I explain the benefits of self-myofascial release fully in my index article, called Foam Rolling. Please read this article first, if you have not done so. It will give you the necessary background on how to use your foam roller exercises more intuitively, like you do when you practice yoga. Self-myofascial release is a wonderful experience that can release emotions when muscular tension is released. We know that emotions affect our body and held tensions that are stored will be released if the foam roller exercises are done with total body-mind awareness.
If you need a foam roller, I recommend the EVA, high density, premium textured models. These types of foam rollers are difficult to find at your local sports store. A textured surface complements the yoga mat nicely by providing a sticky surface for more traction. The larger, 36 x 6 in size, necessary for effective foam rolling, is much easier to manage, especially for beginners.
Gender Differences in the Hip
The hip muscles hold more problems for women, in my observation, than men. It is their strongest emotional center. (The men have their own issues of the shoulders, their stronger emotional center, which I discuss in Foam Roller Exercises that Focus on Opening Your Shoulder). It is no wonder that women have more problems with their hips than men, because their bodies are structured differently.
Firstly, the pelvic bones of the female hips are wider creating more of an angle in the femur (thigh bone), from the hip to the knee. Because the male femurs are straighter, they are stronger and more stable at the knee than a woman’s.
Secondly, a woman’s hip muscles and tendons are more flexible then a man’s because a woman’s hips were designed to expand when giving birth. Because of this flexibility, women’s hips and knees are less stable and have more rotation in them then men’s.
The third way that women differ is their musculature in the leg is less strong, especially in the buttocks, quadriceps and back. Less strength in the muscles that support the joints of the hip, knee and ankle, make the joints less stable. This in turn makes women more prone to knee pain and hip pain and other problems.
And finally, if one throws obesity in the mix, and the fact that women carry more weight on their hips than men, it’s no wonder that women have more leg problems. All of these structural differences in the female hip and leg lead to higher frequency of torn ACL’s (anterior cruciate ligament of the knee), arthritis, injuries and fractures of the hip, knee or ankle. It spells a set up for ankle pain, knee pain and hip pain.
In summary a woman’s hips differ in the following ways:
Those of you who are consistent readers of my website understand that I love the use of metaphors, and the hips contain many cultural metaphors as you will see. Metaphors play an important role in our lives and the use of them speaks of the body-mind connection.
The hip contains many body metaphors that revolve around birth and creativity, pleasure and sexuality. The hip is a very emotional center, part of our core and our center of gravity (the center of gravity on the body is about 2-3 cm below the navel). A woman’s center of gravity is slightly lower than a man’s center of gravity. The hip is significant as an area involving our connectedness to others and the control or lack of control of others. As a center of our creativity, the hip is a metaphor for the birthing of ideas and all things involving pleasure.
Opening the hip and the hip muscles with stretches and foam roller exercises is important for releasing emotions of control, and opening oneself for the birth of new ideas, pleasure and new creations. The seed of our creativity, figuratively and literally starts at the pelvis and hip. If we release control, we are free to express all aspects of our human creativity and our hips should move and flow without pain or issues. The same is true of our sexuality – just one aspect of our creativity. If we except ourselves as creatures designed to enjoy the pleasures that our sexuality brings us, we should not have issues with our pelvis or hips.
However, this is usually not so. Most likely, a lot of us feel like our creativity is stifled as we are forced to conform to others desires, whether it be our bosses demands, the needs of our children and our significant others, our parents, or whomever. Does the metaphor of being ‘joined at the hip’ bring new meaning now? Being joined at the hip depicts being unable to get away from someone, ever! Maybe we should exercise the 'hip check' instead!
Instead of freely using our creativity to express ourselves we may feel trapped and helpless as we attempt to control our own lives and stay in control of ourselves as separate and unique entities. Yet we struggle between wanting to be needed – the concept of co-dependency, versus the need to be independent and unique individuals. Often our hips reflect this battleground.
When we desire control we end up fighting for it. Fighting to take back control from others. The harder we try to take back control or to control others, the tighter our hips become, and the worse we feel. We tense our pelvic floor muscles and hip muscles and attempt to hold it all together with our hip adductors. (See article on hip adductor muscles). But we can never, ever control others. We can only adapt and change our own response to others as they attempt to do the same thing to us when they attempt to control us!
Your mind is your own entity. As an adult, we can change our perceptions of who controls us. We can begin to understand our own emotional responses to others and make a choice to respond in healthy ways that heal our body-mind-soul. See the 90-second cure in How Emotions Affect Our Body to learn today, how to manage strong emotions in a healthier way.
This may be a stretch of one’s metaphorical imagination, but where do you suppose the slang term to be 'hip' came from? Or the word, 'hippie?' The word 'hip' means to be trendy, setting new ground, beyond convention, a new creative expression. The term 'hippie' was derived from the word, 'hipster' and hippies were given the term because they were totally beyond convention, even establishing a totally new way of life. Interesting, isn’t it? Shall we strive to be more like hippies?
Now, back to the issue of control, as it relates to pleasure and sexuality. When women exert control, it is often through withholding sex. It is a way to fight back and re-gain control. It also entails withdrawing inward, with closed bodies and tensed, closed hip muscles.
We close ourselves to the demands of others as a self-protective measure, and hold this tension and these emotions in our pelvis and hip muscles. Or we forcefully charge forward, believing that we can handle everything, be all things to all people and meet all the demands that others bring to us. Both of these emotional responses, withdrawal or charging forward, will tighten and close our hip muscles as we try to hold it all together. When we neglect to care for ourselves, our body-mind-soul suffers and is manifested in our hips.
Learning to release control and the emotions of anger, withdrawal or helplessness that is associated with control or lack of it will bring us health and healing of the body-mind-soul. Holding on too tight to control and the emotions that it elicits will bring us ill health. We need to learn to open our hips and let go of control. It is only by releasing control that we will be able to be renewed and refilled with the creative expression that enriches our human experience. Learning foam roller exercises, specifically for hip opening is one great way to learn to open your hips and release control.
Sexuality issues surrounding the hips and hip pain are a topic most likely outside the scope of this article. Impotence, lack of desire and other sexuality issues may be a result of many things, like guilt, anger, depression, mid-life transition and so forth. Depression is anger that is turned inward, against the self and the pleasures and creativity that life can afford. It often surrounds the idea that we do not deserve pleasure and self-fulfillment, or even that pleasure is a sin and to be avoided.
Or if you are a victim of sexual abuse you may have an altogether different view of sexuality that gives you an altered view of love and pleasure.
If your intuition, your 'inner knowing' tells you that
self-fulfillment and sexuality are issues for you, I encourage you to
seek the help of a professional who can help guide you through your
healing process. If you are a self-healer you may try the foam roller
exercises and stretches first, but have someone available if your
emotions become overpowering. I would be happy to be your holistic health coach if you so desire.
Lower back pain and hip pain often accompany one another. The hip flexors (iliopsoas) in the front of your hip become tight and short from prolonged sitting on your desk job. The hip muscles in the back side, the piriformis, and the iliotibial band (IT Band) also become short and tight from sitting. The iliopsoas is often a cause of back pain that you think is coming from your back, when instead it is coming from the hip flexor connected to your spine. Tight piriformis muscles are also a frequent cause of lower back pain. The erector spinae and quadratus lumborum, the muscles of the lower back also become shortened and tight from sitting too long. Just click on the name of the muscle in this paragraph to see my discussions on each individual muscle and the individual issues surrounding them.
Don't fall into the trap of believing that your body can "take" long periods of sitting at work without stretch breaks. When you do this you are giving your job control over you life and your health. Truthfully, as I have seen over and over again when working with employees, is that you will be much healthier and more productive if you take frequent "micro-breaks." Healthy employees make happier and better employees. This means get up from your chair frequently, every hour, or better yet, every 1/2 hour, and stretch for a minute. This will get your circulation going again, refresh and rejuvenate your body and your brain! Then over lunch, or every 4 hours go for a brisk walk, or do some intense chair yoga for 15 minutes.
Hip pain can be a significant problem for people, especially women. I designed the foam roller exercises and stretches in this article to assist you in opening your hip and stretching your hip muscles. Foam rolling to open the hips will help you prevent hip pain, and if you already have it, you will be better able to manage your hip pain, if not get rid of it altogether.
From the holistic perspective, these foam roller exercises will aid you in releasing your emotional issues surrounding your lack of creative expression, bad relationships and sexuality issues. They will help you learn to go with the flow, release control and learn to let go of the things that do not really matter. If it is your desire to have more creative energy, including sexual energy, as you perform the foam roller exercises to open your hips, say affirmations that will open your heart for all creative energy to flow in. So 'swing your hips' and get started!
Affirmations for creativity and creative energy.
Foam Roller Exercises to Open the Hip and Hip Muscles:
Instructions to accompany the video below:
My favorite foam roller exercises shown below are the hip stretches that I have created to open the hip, because the seat of my creativity is in the hips. Nothing in my body aches more than my hips. The creative energy is very, very strong, from many years of "not having a voice." My story is told in My Thyroid Cancer Experience. In fact these next foam roller exercises are not rolling on the roller at all, but are hip stretches that use the foam roller as a prop to further open the hip. The following photos show progressive, held poses, meant to be a series of moves of hip stretches, each one deepening the hip stretch.
The first hip stretch on the foam roller, below, I call the Foam Roller Arch Stretch. Lie back on the floor and position the foam roller under your hips. Stretch out your legs straight, and touch your feet on the ground forming an arch. If this is uncomfortable, you can bend up one knee and do the hip stretch on just one side at a time, as shown in the 2nd photo. Hold this pose for 10-20 seconds and really feel the hip stretch through the front of your leg at the top of the thigh. This pose stretches the hip flexor, the iliopsoas.
The next series of hip stretches on the foam roller I call the Foam Roller Crossover Twist.
Start with the foam roller under your hips at a comfortable place and
bend your knees. Lift one leg at a time and and twist as you cross over
the leg to touch the floor on the other side if you can. Follow the progression of the photos below. They are relatively self-explanatory.
This next foam roller exercise and hip stretch sequence I call the Foam Roller Bridge. As you go through this series, try to do each pose with your hips on the foam roller, then do the same pose by lifting up your hips off the foam roller. This additional move will strengthen as well as stretch your hip.
This next series of foam roller exercises for the hip muscles I call the Foam Roller Iliopsoas Stretch. It stretches the psoas part of the hip flexor in the lower back. It will help relieve hip pain as well as back pain. In the final picture, try to pull your legs toward your body as much as you can. It is OK if you can't straighten your legs all the way. The stretch is supposed to be in the lower back, not the back of the legs.
The next two hip stretches are a real hip openers, hip adductor stretches and ones to hold for creative and sexual energy. It is the Bound Angle Pose on a Foam Roller and the Wide-Legged Pose on a Foam Roller. Again, the foam roller is under the hips, at a position where it is comfortable for you.
The Half Lotus Stretch on a foam roller, is exactly the same as the sitting half lotus. This stretch just changes the angle of the stretch and adds the support of the ground while your hips rest on the foam roller. This foam roller exercise for the hip muscles and the next will really stretch the piriformis muscle, deep in the hip.
When you do this piriformis stretch on the foam roller, pull your straight leg as far towards your body as you can, to deepen the stretch as much as possible. You can also grab your bent leg and pull it towards your body to deepen the stretch.
Perhaps the most hip opening stretch of all is the Pigeon Pose or the Sleeping Swan as it is known in Yin Yoga. The Pigeon Pose pictured is modified, to bend forward at the waist, as far as you can go.
Foam roller exercises really teach you how stretching your body creates space for healing. You create space in your life, when you open your body, your mind and your soul. Join me on your foam roller today!
May you always find healing in your life, when you perform foam roller exercises and hip stretches! I hope you begin your total body-mind-soul healing program today!
Foam Roller Exercises for the Lower Body and Lower Back: