Today, I'd like to share with you a couple lower back stretches and hip mobility exercises that I do to warm-up before weight training sessions. These simple stretches help me prepare for Squats, Deadlifts and Step Ups.
Aside from those, these stretches are also beneficial before and after activities like running, cycling or rowing. They also work wonders for simply unwinding after a day at the office (or a long flight).
These stretches take about 5-10 minutes total if you hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds – but the longer the better!
So let's take a look.
Lower back and outer hip stretch
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Open your arms wide in a “T” shape (pic 1).
Keeping the knees and feet together, slowly turn them to the left and go as far as you can without feeling any discomfort in your back (pic 2). Make sure the opposite shoulder blade and arm (right shoulder in this case) stay on the floor. Hold this pose for 30-50 seconds and return to the starting position rotating through the spine and waist. Repeat on the other side.
If you want a deeper stretch in the hips and hamstrings, then extend the top leg till it is straight and hold it with the opposite hand (pic 3). Use the hand to bring the leg closer to your torso. This will increase the stretch in the hamstrings.
For each side, repeat this 3-4 times or as many times as it feels good for you!
Hip mobility drill
Start in a standing position with feet wider than shoulder width (pic 4).
Lower your body into a squat position. Go as far as you feel comfortable (pic 5). Aim for your thighs to be at least parallel to the floor, or lower if you have a good range of motion.
This movement can also be done by holding onto a pole or a bar to help you go deeper into a squat without losing your balance. Hold this pose for a few seconds.
Once in the squat position, turn to your left and place the right knee on the ground (pic 6), leaning into the left leg. This will increase the stretch at the back of the left hip and also improve mobility in the knee and ankle. Hold this position for 30-50 seconds, then go back into the squat position (pic 5).
Now turn to your right (pic 7) and drop the left knee to the floor. Hold this position for 30-50 seconds then go back into your squat position.
Repeat the whole sequence 3-4 times or until you feel that your hips are more open/loose.
Inner tights/hip flexors stretches
Start in a side lunge position with your left leg bent and your right leg straight (pic 8). Make sure your left knee doesn't go over your left toes. Hold this position for 30-50 seconds till you feel a good stretch in the right inner thigh.
Now turn your body to the left and drop your right knee to the ground (pic 9). Raise your right arm and gently arch your back to lift your chest to the ceiling. Make sure your right knee is placed behind the right hip to maximize the stretch (see pic 9). Focus on feeling the stretch at the front of your right hip and right waist. Hold this position for 30-50 seconds.
Return to the side lunge position then change side. Repeat this on both sides 3-4 times.
If you are new to these stretches or to stretching in general, make sure you take your time to improve your range of motion. Always listen to your body and make sure there is no discomfort or pain coming from any parts of your body. Over time, your flexibility will improve and you will be able to go deeper into the positions. As a start, it is completely fine to begin with a small range of motion and gradually work up to a wider range of motion. Patience will pay off in the long run!
These simple stretches that improve your lower back and hip mobility will warm up your joints, ligaments and muscles before your workout - reducing the risk of injury. Stretching after your workout will speed up your recovery and better prepare you for your next session.