By Gwen Lawrence
If your hips are tight, it makes sense that you increase the likelihood of injuring your knees. Running, jumping, pivoting and acrobatic end-zone catches or goal shots put a lot of pressure on the hips.
Let’s stop and think for a moment: If you get hit on the football field, for example, the energy of the body hitting you has to be absorbed somewhere in your body. And if your hips lack suppleness and don’t give in to this energy at all, then the energy will go to the point of least resistance — the very vulnerable knee joint.
A flexible hip will not always avoid a devastating knee injury, but it’ll help a lot! So let’s talk about keeping the hips open and a safe for long life for your knees.
The yoga poses I recommend below will:
- Open the hip in external rotation, which will also involve the glutes
- Work internal rotations to help avoid medial (MCL) strain
- Stretch the groin and inner thigh
- Address the hamstrings
- Elongate the quadriceps
- Deepen the elasticity of the hip flexors
Tight thigh, hip, and calf muscles are possible causes of overuse knee injuries. We want to open the hips and release an essentially locked-in pelvis to relieve the knee. Aside from protecting the knee, having open hips will free up your stride and improve your form for more efficient movement on the field, court or mat. Also, let’s remember the formula for power yoga for sports: strength + flexibility = power. So strengthen these muscles of the hips, too.
Yoga poses for hip flexibility:
- Pigeon Pose
- Frog Pose
- Hero Pose
- Reclining Hand-to-Toe Pose with IT band stretch
- Standing Forward Bend against the wall
- Bow Pose with additional heel-to-hip hold
- Squat holds
- Cobbler’s Pose
- Double Pigeon
- Standing Forward Bend
Finally, here’s a helpful mantra I always tell my players: Sports create imbalances in the body because they are one-side dominant, so it is your job as an athlete to tune in and address your imbalances every day!