First of all, I must say that you’re in extremely good hands because it isn’t me that has designed this workout, it has been developed specially for us middle age divas by 52 year old (no, you wouldn’t know it) super fit and fabulous Christina Howells – personal trainer and fitness expert extraordinaire! I’ll be bringing you more of Christina’s amazing tips and advice to keep in your best shape as you age, so here we go…
STRETCH & MOBILITY SECTION
I’ve probably mentioned my achey old hips before so stop me if I have…no, actually, don’t bother because I will mention them again anyway. So apart from having some problems with tightness and inflexibility from years of being pigeon toed which means my hips naturally rotate inwards I’m also lacking oestrogen – which happens during menopause – and can exacerbate joint pain. So, Christina put some exercises in place to build up strength around the hip area which will improve my range of movement and relieve pain. One amazing thing about doing these regularly is that I sleep better and with less pain (sometimes no pain) at night – which was a problem before and had me tossing and turning to get comfortable.
Great for adductors (inner thigh muscles) flexibility – the ability of the muscle to lengthen.
- Sit on the floor in ‘bear sit’ position: Feet and knees turned out, straight line between the heels and the back of knees.
- Grab your shins while using your elbows to prize your knees apart whilst pulling your body upwards to straighten your spine.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds ensuring your spine remains straight as you sit as tall as you can and you should feel the stretch in the groin area.
Part 2 (pic above)
- Staying in the same position with your spine straight, raise your hands and place them behind your head without letting knees fall back and collapsing.
- Chest remains lifted as you gaze forwards and engage abdominals to maintain a straight spine.
- In this position, your lower back, hip flexors and anterior core muscles will work hard to maintain this posture, making it a mobility exercise (improving flexibility and strength.)
- Hold for 10-20 slow, controlled breaths.
Groin Mobility Sequence
- Sit in a wide-leg split stance or as close to wide as you are comfortable with whilst keeping the spine tall.
- Place fingertips on floor in front of you.
- Focus on firming the leg muscles and engaging your abdominals to create tension in the muscles.
- Lean your body forwards, lowering your chest towards the floor while keeping legs strong. Spine stays straight and abdominals engaged.
- Hold for a breath and then drive down through your legs to return your body back to fully seated.
- Repeat 8-10 times.
Hip Mobility Sequence 1
- Sit with right leg in front bent at 90 degree angle with left knee in line with hip
- Chest and shoulders are square to your front shin and back extended (not slumped).
- Place hands on floor in front of you for support or clasp in front pushing palms together to create tension as you engage abdominals.
- Settle into position which feels comfortable while being able to keep spine straight
- Keep knee and foot in contact with the floor, thinking of lifting shin bone up without moving muscles so you are just engaging the muscles.
- Move as far forwards as you can keeping spine straight and push through your front shin
- Return to start position. Repeat 8 times and hold stretch for 30 seconds to finish
- Repeat with left leg.
Hip Mobility Sequence 2
This exercise works on the external rotation of the back hip to develop a greater range of motion and strength in the end range of movement. This helps to open the hips, stretch the adductors and requires the smaller glute muscles (our external rotators) to fire up.
- Sit with left leg in front bent at a 90 degree angle whilst right knee is in line with your hip (the same as in the exercise before.)
- Chest and shoulders are square to your front shin and your back is extended rather than slumped.
- Place your left hand by the side of the left knee and right hand in front of right thigh.
- Keep weight on your back leg and pop up onto the toe of the right foot as you open the knee outwards so the heel comes to the floor, keeping the lead leg down (think of driving the knees away from each other.)
- Hold at the end of the movement range, squeezing he right glute for a moment
- Now, point the toe down to internally rotate your hip back to the start position.
- Repeat 8 reps each side.
Exercise 3: Internal Rotation of the Right Hip
- Same position and posture as the last 2 exercises – 90/90 hip and knee.
- Use your hands to support your spine and limit the torso movement.
- Root down into your back knee as you lift that foot off the floor. Pause and then return.
- Repeat 8-10 times each side.
- NOTE: I could barely lift my foot off the floor when I first started doing this. That is normal and will improve a little over time!
Exercise 4 – Hip Flexor Stretch
- Place the left leg in front of you. Back leg, shoulder, hip and knee are aligned.
- Contract your abdominals and your right glute to perform a posterior tilt (tucking your tailbone underneath you. You should feel a stretch down the thigh.)
- Now, reach your arms in front maintaining the glute engagement and allow your body to move forwards 1-2 inches without losing the posterior tilt.
- Repeat 10 times and then raise your arms above your head and repeat 10 times.
- Then, as you lean 1-2 inches forwards move your arms laterally and return (see below exercise) and return. Repeat 10 times each side.
Exercise 5 – Side Lying Plank with Clam
This exercise works your core as well as your lateral glute muscle (outside of your hip.)
- Lie on your side with knees bent at a 45 degree angle, elbow directly under your shoulder. Heels together.
- Bridge your body up into a modified side plank and as you do so, think of pushing your bottom hip forwards.
- Simultaneously open your top knee to the sky. Be careful to keep heels together and not to point toes inwards.
- Hold for a moment at the top and return.
- Repeat 15 times each side.
Standing External Rotation
This is a great hip strengthener which is what you need to increase in conjunction with mobility in order to prevent hip pain as you age.
- Standing with a band above your knees which are hip width apart, bend into a half squat.
- Keep toes forwards and from here, push your right thigh into the band, keeping the foot flat to the floor. Do this 15 times and repeat on the left side.
Seated Hip Rotation
Like the Standing Hip Rotation, this exercise will activate the muscles of the outer hip and strengthen them.
- Seated with both feet flat on the floor, lean your bodyweight forwards and keep spine extended and abdominals engaged.
- Push thighs into the band and control when releasing, keeping feet on the floor. Repeat 10 times.
- Sit upright and repeat the above 10 times.
- Finally stand into a half squat and repeat again 10 times.
I try to do these exercises every other day and definitely before and after a workout. They have helped with the flexibility and strength of my hips no end and I’m mostly pain-free now!
The main reason I do these – and want you to do them too – is because by working on our weaknesses rather than just chucking pain killers down our necks to alleviate pain, is a lot more healthy for us – and it could also mean avoiding medical treatment in the future, which is always a good thing!
Please pop on to Instagram and follow Christina Howells @thatgirllondon and get in touch with her if you’re thinking of some personal training – she’s amazing with all of her clients – especially motivating for us over 50s!
Shout out to my fave gym West4Gym who I am a happy member of – they made me like gyms again, and that’s a feat I can tell you!
Hope you enjoyed my little routine – sorry about the grimacing and dodgy vids, but as I say, I’m all for keeping it real! 😊