Explosive Muay Thai offensiveness comes from flexible, strong hips. . .
AVOID TIGHT HIPS WITH THESE BRIGHT TIPS
With our culture centered around sitting at work, on the computer, or even during our leisure time, it’s very easy to find yourself having tight hips. When you have tight hips, doing many things feel like a chore – going up stairs, stretching, sometimes even walking. In Muay Thai, having tight hips means you…
1) …are not able turn your hip over properly when kicking.
2) …are not able to push your hips to where you want it to during punching, kneeing, and clinching.
3) …probably have bad balance.
4) …can’t generate enough power with your strikes.
There are many ways to increase hip flexibility, though. All it takes is some work, patience – and time.
IMPROVEMENT #1: Pay attention to your posture
Posture is so widely and easily overlooked when it comes to getting better with your body. With good posture, your entire body is connected and functioning as one. With good posture, there is less overcompensation from one area. Overall, you just feel aligned and balanced.
When standing, you want your shoulders, hips, and ankles to be aligned. If you look at yourself from the side, those three joints should be relatively in the same line. If one thing is more forward or back than it’s supposed to than this compromises your posture, and, in turn, your hips. Having good posture also benefits your shoulders, core muscles, and leg muscles. Good posture = less chance of injury.
Because many sit during the day for work or other activities, it’s just as important to have good posture when sitting. Of course, if sitting for long periods of time, always get up to walk around every now and then. This forces your leg muscles (and hips) to work more. A good way to do this is to drink lots of water during the day so you have to get up to use the toilet.
IMPROVEMENT #2: Stretch it out
There are many hip stretches you can incorporate into your training routine to stat opening those hips up. Stretching your leg muscles is a start – tight leg muscles usually means limited hip mobility. Start with the easy ones – hamstring, quadricep, and adductor, hip flexor, and IT band.
Here are some tips on maximizing your gains from common stretching exercises:
- Try to make your back as straight as possible during a hamstring stretch. A curved back means you’re stretching your glutes (butt) more.
- During the quad stretch, make sure your knee is pointed down towards the floor and you “tuck” your tailbone in.
- This hip flexor stretch is one of the most basic stretches everyone should know. Keeping your body upright, push your hips forward.
- There are a number of ways to stretch the IT band. This is one of the easiest ones to do anywhere.
- You can use a foam roller in conjunction to stretching. They do different things to your muscles, but will benefit your hip flexibility.
- Hold all stretches for at least 30 seconds.
Many hip stretches come straight from yoga. You won’t need to contort your body in weird ways, but these are fairly challenging to those with tight hips. Some stretches require you to bend your body towards the floor. If you’re not there yet, don’t worry. Being on your hands instead of your elbows will still give you the stretch you need.
IMPROVEMENT #3: Strengthen your hip muscles
Strengthening and working those hip muscles may sound a little counterintuitive when you want to relieve tightness. Sensible reasoning, though, tells us that having stronger hip muscles actually alleviates a lot of discomfort associated with tight hips. Moreover, sometimes it’s not the joint itself not being mobile, and sometimes it’s not the muscles around it not being loose enough for your liking… but sometimes it’s because they’re too weak to do what you want them to do!
Many hip strengthening exercises come from pilates, and make it very easy to do anywhere. The muscles you’re looking to strengthen are your hip flexors, glutes, hip adductors, and hip abductors and, of course – your core!
IMPROVEMENT #4: KEEP GOING!
With Muay Thai being a whole body workout, it’s going to force you to keep using the hip muscles. If you’re consistent with your training, your hip mobility is sure to increase with time. Open up those hips, kick higher, and have better balance. There are so many ways to go about it- just pick one!
- Plant-based fighter, foodie, and aspiring physical therapist. Angela is currently living in Bangkok and training full time.