Hip Mobility Series

Do you have tight hips? Do you want better hip mobility? Here is a series of three hip drills that will help improve your mobility and stability. 

We’ll also articulate how to create dexterity around the hip. When we have dexterity, we have more control. Creating more control allows us to have better movement, and better movement awareness, depending on various activities. 

When it comes to the hips, we typically assume we move the leg kind of around the body, which is important. But some of these drills will show how we can move the body about the hip, which is really important for sports and performance because a lot of these rotational movements or other movements are going to be our torso and our hips moving around our stable hip, which is planted into the ground. 

I’m Dr. Antonio with Live Loud Chiropractic and Coaching in Lafayette, Colorado, and today I’m going to show you these hip exercises in series, and explain how you can go about them, and how they can help your hip mobility and stability. 


The Hip Airplane

We can do the hip airplane in a couple of different ways. The main thing to keep in mind is when we’re doing a lot of movements around the hip, the leg is moving around the pelvis.

But here, we want to ask, how can we control the body moving around the hip?

We’re going to first start with a split stance. A split stance simply means one foot forward and one foot backward. 

From here, I’m going to try to put the majority of my weight in my front leg. And my back toe is simply touching the ground for a little bit of stability. So here, what we’re going to practice is just opening and closing the hip. So the front leg ideally has toes pointing straight ahead. And the front hip ideally has the knee in line with the toes. 

But you can see in the video how my torso rotates around. So what we wouldn’t want is if I’m falling, my knee comes in, or as I’m coming out, that knee is pushing out. I want to maintain some rigidity and planting through the ground. I’m thinking about is my pubic bone and my sternum, opening away, and then closing towards. I don’t twist through my back because I want this whole system to come with me. 

That is the first step to understanding the whole movement. 

Now, ideally, what we’re going to build up to is being able to do this without any help. So what you can do is use a foam roller or a countertop to help you balance so that we can create that first stepping stone into understanding the movement. 

As you can see in the video, using my hands to balance, I’m going to reach my heel and my hand away from each other. Same thing as before: I open away from the leg, then come down and close towards the leg. (What’s nice too is you’ll actually feel a nice big stretch in the hip muscle here.) 

You can also put a plate on a squat rack to use for balance and rotate on that plate as it’s anchored into a barbell or whatever rack you have. 

The importance is the control of the torso moving around a fixed point (the planted foot). This is important for a lot of sports and activities that we do because a lot of what we do is plant a foot and then everything else rotates around that fixed leg. 

Hip airplanes are not intended to be done fast or sloppy. These are about control, creating dexterity, and improving mobility. If you’re finding that in one of these planes of motion you feel a little tighter, you can actually hang out there a little bit and get a stretch. So there you have it–hip airplanes. If you’re not doing them, give it a try. They’re super beneficial for good hip health. 

The Windmill 

Now we’re focusing on creating torsion or torque within the hip. We tend to think of torsion as tight. Think of torsion as creating lines of tension where we want lines of tension, and then releasing where we don’t want it. 

To do the windmill, the feet maintain a fixed position, and then we rotate in whichever direction from there. This can be a great mobility test, which I learned from a previous colleague of mine, Dr. Jordan Shallow with Pre-Script. He uses it as a test because by fixing this, we really get a true understanding of thoracic rotation and hip rotation. 

I like being in a more open position for the actual mobility drill, I don’t like fixing it. Because again, primarily, my patients are not as performance-based, where they’re having a range of motion restrictions; I don’t want to put their shoulders in precarious positions, or create too much tension in an area that needs to move. 

So our feet are going to move opposite to the direction of the hand that has the weight. We’re going to start with just bodyweight first, meaning it’s just my arm up–I don’t want to load yet. But you can see in the video how my toes turn. 

Now, the most important part of this movement, just like when we do a hinge, is that my butt moves away from my toes, or in the same direction on my heels. The same goes true here. So if I’m square to you, and I turn 45 degrees, I do not want my hips moving. This way, my hips should be moving away from my toes in this diagonal fashion that we’ve just created. 

Now, a very helpful cue is taking the front arm, or the down arm, and trying to slide your forearm down your thigh, towards your inner shin. As one arm comes up, opposite to the front leg, the other arm slides down, and my hips shift away. The majority of the weight is on your front, you can even bend the toes on the back foot a little bit if you want. This allows me to sit into that front hip more to work the mobility and stability of that front hip. 

Again, those go hand in hand. When we’re trying to create stability, we have to have a certain amount of mobility. And for that mobility to happen, we have to feel oftentimes very comfortable with the stability in that hip. So that’s why we’re talking about both of these processes together. 

I’m also testing and working on thoracic rotation, which is good as part of the test we have just indicated. And if I have a weight above me, I’m working on that shoulder stability as well. 

But from a mobility perspective with the hip, we can now change that toe variation angle to coil and create more tension, as previously mentioned by Dr. Shallow. By squaring up, then doing my motion, I’m going to challenge the amount of hip and thoracic rotation we see. 

I like doing these in sets and reps. I tend to not do them crazy heavy because I am working on it from more of a thoracic rotation and hip mobility perspective. You can load it up a little bit heavier if you want to challenge shoulder stability and some other factors as well.

I’ll try to get weight overhead. I tend to use between 12, 16, and maybe 20 kilos, and then I’ll do some easy movements. I might find, oh, this one’s a little tight. Then I’ll sit into that hip a little bit more, then I’ll come up. And when I’m down there, too, I’m playing around and just wiggling to see where I might need to focus a little more time and attention. 

The windmill can be done with a kettlebell, a dumbbell, or just bodyweight. But it’s a fantastic exercise for challenging first and foremost, shoulder stability, but what I really love it for is a spinal mobility movement and a hip mobility movement, which really helps open up the hips. 

The Turkish Get-up Windmill

This is great for challenging mobility and stability, but also for working on positioning. A lot of times we can’t progress with the Turkish Get-up because we’re missing certain stages that are super advantageous for stacking yourself appropriately to then transition into the next phase so that you can get up. 

We’re going to do it first with bodyweight. To start, whether I’m going down or up, I’m going to be in this lunge pattern. Now, what’s important is if I’m coming down or up this middle phase, I need to square my hips. What does that mean? One toe is pointing in one direction and the back toe is facing another direction. My knees are facing 90 degrees away from each other. 

This allows me to sit my bottom hip towards the back heel, allowing me to hinge down into the movement. Now, this is where the mobility comes in. A lot of people with tight hips will see that that top knee collapse down, but we want to try to keep that stacked. That’s where I get that 90-degree shape I had. I’m also starting to open up and challenge that downward knee or inner thigh as I hinge and turn. So this is the Windmill within the Turkish Get-up. 

So I’ll stage this for clients or patients as practicing what this feels like to just work on hip mobility and stability in a different context. If you start to fall in as you go back and forth, we see where that tension is wanting to pull you in, and where we’re biased to not being able to appropriately load.

So we’re going to practice this first, without weight, coming up and down, loading into that hip, and coiling up and down, starting to loosen up both hips extremely well. 

So let’s say, for instance, I’m coming down, I’m going to lunge back, then I’m going to windshield wiper my top foot so that my knees are at a 90-degree angle. I’m going to sit this bottom hip back towards my heel, slide the hand down in line with the knee. Now I’m in the position to kick that leg through, and then I would reverse down. 

On the way up, it’s the same thing. Once I’ve come up to my hands. I’m going to pull that knee through, but it’s got to open up at 90 degrees to the top, so I can pull my leg through into that windmill. Then sit the hip back, pop up, windshield wiper the leg around, and then we’re gonna stand. 

So that is the windmill position within the Turkish getup to challenge mobility, not only in the thoracic spine, definitely in the hips, but also challenging the stability of the shoulder as well.

The Prying Goblet Squat 

The goblet squat is one of my favorite exercises. It is great for teaching the squat pattern, but also for showing and challenging how we integrate core stability. 

It is also really good as a hip mobility drill because it puts you in a position where you’re loaded and helps you get down into that deep position where you can kind of offset that weight. But because you can get your elbows down inside of your knees, you can start to pry your hips open to use it as a mobility drill. 

First take a weight, bring it up like we normally would for a goblet squat. And then we’re gonna simply squat down. And notice if I hold it away from me that’s going to allow me to stay more upright. But now I can wedge those elbows in between my knees, and start to bob and weave and shift and pry open to stretch those inner thighs and that inner hip. 

Now, you could try to maintain a straight back and still do the same thing. We’re just showing that if we want to try to get into this position, to use the elbows to open up the hips and widen that space to create more mobility. This is something that we que consistently when working on a squat pattern. 

Oftentimes, our squat patterns turn poor where we’re leaning forward or something. Not always because we have poor mobility, sometimes we’re just too narrow and we’re not able to utilize a hip range of motion. 

So we’re trying to find that squat stance and enhance that range of motion by prying the hips open. So what we mean by pry is if my two ball and socket joints in the femurs move away from each other, now I have more space for my torso and pelvis essentially, to sit down in between, which helps me keep some more upright squat pattern, which will help in performances, such as front squats, overhead squats, even back squats, depending on the position of the bar, so prying goblet squat is a fantastic mobility drill.


Remember, you do need to have a certain amount of mobility to even get down into these positions. So you might need to utilize a lot of other hip mobility drills that we have to first get there because we don’t want anyone to sacrifice or create any issues by forcing yourself down low enough just to get your elbows in. 

Goblet squat or prying goblet squat–use it as a good mobility drill. Use it as a great warm-up before your squats or any of your other workouts because I know it will be beneficial for you.

Keep up the great work and LIVE LOUD!