15-Minute Routine To Unlock Tight Hips - Monthly Yoga with Abi

Feb 15, 2016
by Abi Carver  
About Abi -
Abi Carver designs yoga routines for mountain bikers looking to eliminate muscular aches and pains, gain an edge in competition and unlock razor sharp mental focus, for next level performance. Her aim is to make yoga more accessible to action sports athletes so that they can do the activities they are passionate about for longer, with less pain and with more skill. Follow her @yoga15app for more yoga tips and tutorials.



Downward Dog Split great for loosening up tight hips

This month, I’ve put together a routine for you to practice at home, designed to loosen up tight hips. Tight hips are the second most common complaint I hear from mountain bikers after low back pain, and the two are closely related.

What causes tight hips?

Overuse. The repetitive motion of pedalling overworks your hip flexors, causing them to tighten over time.
Weak glutes. As the hip flexors tighten, the opposing muscles–the glutes–respond by relaxing and deactivating. This process, known as reciprocal inhibition, is designed to protect the activated muscle–the hip flexors in this instance–from tearing.
Limited range of motion. When you’re on the bike, your hip flexors are constantly in the shortened position and never go into full extension. Also, your joints only move in one direction–extension and flexion–there is no lateral or rotational movement. Over time, this restricts mobility at the joints and decreases your range of motion.
Frequency. If you sit at work, while you’re travelling or relaxing at home, this can exacerbate the problem as your hip flexors remain in the shortened position for most of the day.

Use it or lose it

bigquotesThe way physiology works is that it adapts to what you do most frequently, not what you do with the best of intentions. - Katy Bowman, Biomechanist

Unless you counterbalance your riding with flexibility and mobility training, your range of motion, especially at your hips, will continue to decrease, which will negatively affect your performance.

How do tight hips affect your riding?

Pain
When the muscles and connective tissue around the hip joints get tight and short, they pull the pelvis out of alignment, causing an anterior pelvic tilt and excessive arch of the lumbar spine. This can cause compression pain in the low back as well as pain further up the spine between the shoulder blades. Tight hips and weak glutes can also cause knee and foot pain, as other muscles, including the IT Band, have to compensate, putting excessive stress on joints, ligaments and tendons down the kinetic chain.

Performance
Weak glutes and inadequate hip mobility prevent you from putting maximum force into each pedal stroke and this reduction in power output will massively affect your speed. Also, tight hips restrict your control of the bike, especially on technical downhill sections, as you are not able to transfer your weight as smoothly and efficiently.

Benefits of unlocking your hips
– relief from pain at the low back, knees and between the shoulder blades
– increased power through the pedals
– faster speeds
– greater agility on the bike
– improved movement efficiency
– increased stamina and endurance
– more comfortable long rides
– reduced risk of injury
– you’ll feel 10 years younger!

15-Minute Routine
Views: 31,546    Faves: 329    Comments: 34


List of poses:
– Downward Dog
– One-Legged Downward Dog
– Runners Lunge
– Low Lunge
– Wide-Knee Child’s Pose
– Cross-Legged Forward Folds
– Seated Spinal Twist
– Dead Pigeon

Timing and Frequency
The timing of your flexibility training is important. It’s not advisable to hold static stretches of this length right before you ride or when your muscles are cold, ie. first thing in the morning, as you increase your risk of injury. This also applies to the Low Back Pain and Post-Ride routines.

I recommend you practice one of the flexibility routines every day if you need to or a minimum of once every 2-3 days. You can stretch out after a ride, on your recovery day–if you have warmed up with some dynamic exercises, or in the evening before bed which should also help you sleep.

If you consistently practice flexibility training, you'll start to correct muscular imbalances, reduce your recovery time, eliminate aches and pains, release tension in tight muscles, massively improve your riding performance and generally feel more calm and relaxed. And even if you’re not experiencing pain or stiffness now, be proactive and integrate flexibility training into your program before it’s too late and you start to notice a decline in your performance.

Tips
Practicing this routine should not be painful but it may not be all that comfortable at first. If you’re new to yoga, be patient as your muscles may be too tight to get into some of the poses I demonstrate first time through. Stop and start the video as you need to until you feel more confident with the routine. And when you feel tension or resistance in a stretch, deepen your breath and try to relax into it. Bear in mind that for a lot of athletes, flexibility is even harder to develop than strength, so go easy on yourself.

You can download this routine and a more advanced hip opening sequence here. And if you need more motivation and tips to relieve pain and level up your performance, follow me on Instagram @yoga15abi.

Please let me know how you get on in the comments below. And share this article with anyone you think could do with some yoga inspiration.


Previous Yoga with Abi:
15-Minute Yoga Routine To Build Core Strength
Short Yoga Routine To Help With Lower Back Pain in Bikers
15-Minute Yoga Routine To Enhance Balance and Agilityl
15-Minute Post-Ride Yoga Routine
8 Quick Yoga Stretches To Do At Work

MENTIONS: @yoga15app




146 Comments

  • + 68
 Thank you Abi !
  • + 27
 My pleasure @sebevoltage!
  • + 38
 Top notch article. Well thought out, clear and concise presentation of issue and solution. Abi has quickly become on of my favorite contributors on PB.
  • + 8
 Thank you @WillyQuill - I really hope that these articles help you guys out. Please let me know if you have any questions.
  • + 21
 Ahhhhhhhhh.. We want the guy back with the tiny weights and the fancy moves... Said no one ever..!
  • + 3
 try that workout as prescribed, it's harder than you think.
  • + 28
 Damn! Can't even make a joke without having to do exercise as punishment.. This site is getting strict. Razz
  • + 2
 I just did it... My hips are super tight! Great routine! Thanks abi!
  • + 1
 Awesome Tom. If your hips are super locked up, try to practice it a couple of times a week until you start to feel a little more stretchy.
  • + 1
 Thank you @enduromtbtrainer. I think a lot of riders are surprised at how tough and effective these yoga poses are.
  • + 7
 This is perfect timing for me, my hip flexor's have been giving me all sorts of problems since Xmas. Add to that a wonky pelvis, and painful lower back, this could really help me out. Looking forward to trying this routine later.
  • + 2
 Let me know if you have any questions Glenn.
  • + 4
 Actually I do have one question while your here. Do you think it is ok for me to do this routine while I still feel pain in my hip flexor's and lower back? Or should I rest up and wait until the pain has gone? I don't want to do more harm than good.
Cheers.
  • + 6
 I really recommend you speak to a physio about your specific set of symptoms. Rehab will be a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises but you don't want to do either when you're actually in pain. However, it is important to keep moving and stretching as much as you are able. I'm sorry I can't be more definitive.
  • + 1
 Thanks Abi, I'll get in touch with my physio, and see what he thinks. Cheers.
  • - 1
 Bum lickers
  • + 6
 I have given up on pretending I just don’t need to look after my body if I want to keep riding until I am an old man and at 29 I have started following your last few posts here on pinkbike. It has changed my world, I used to have pain in my upper back between my shoulder blades and in my knees after an all day session. After following your stretching videos for the last 2-3months the pains are now all gone (although I did need to keep it up for a while, in the first few weeks I noticed nothing). It has really helped thanks a lot Abi.
  • + 2
 That's awesome David. Hopefully you just bought yourself an extra 20 years riding pain and injury-free!
  • + 3
 Thank you, nice job! the balance of your standing body while in tadasana, against the brick wall on the back, is somewhat hypnotic. Since my yoga teacher for the last ten years moved abroad, two monthes ago, I've been looking for a weekly or dayly sequence of asanas that is effective and not too much repetitive, something quite like this you kindly posted.
  • + 1
 Awesome @b1rdie. You'll find more vids on my profile.
  • + 3
 I have been having hip flexor issues for about 2 years now. However, I have only had the issue while sitting at work and riding my Downhill Bike, never on my BMX, Hardtail or XC bike. I will give this a try when no one is looking. Thanks!
  • + 2
 Hi Abi @yoga15app,

My question is about the last month core strenthg yoga routine, I was wondering if it's better to do it in the morning or in the end of the day, and if it's actually in the morning, before or after breakfast, if it has an influence ?

Thanks !
  • + 3
 Good question @fitjoani. The best time to do any of these routines is the time that you can be most consistent.

After that, with the Core Strength routine, the issue of warming up is not so important as you're not holding long static stretches. So the best time would probably be in the morning as it's best to do more relaxing sequences in the evening before bed. And before breakfast would be better than after as digestion takes up a lot of energy that you want to apply to your workout.

I hope that answers your question.
  • + 3
 OK I tried it, boy, not a pretty sight and the sounds!! However, I need this stuff. I use to be quite stretchy, not so much anymore. But with these videos, hey we'll see. Thanks.
  • + 1
 I'm impressed Bill! You have to be pretty consistent with flexibility training for it to make a real difference but there is no reason why you can't be bendy again if you keep to up at least a couple of times a week. Good luck!
  • + 2
 Would this also be a good routine for loosening hip rotators? 30+ years of biking with less than adequate stretching has the whole hip area very tight. While it does affect biking, where I find the most difficulty is getting kicks up in TaeKwonDo. I understand this is more the rotators rather than the flexors.
  • + 1
 Good question @samael. Actually this routine and the advanced hip opening routine in the MTB series on Vimeo hit the hip from every angle. Here is the link:

vimeo.com/ondemand/yogaforbikers
  • + 3
 Abi, what poses/routine would you recommend for strengthening/defining the lower back into the hips? I can see this routine helping, but is there anything else?

Thanks in advance.

@yoga15app
  • + 4
 Snake and Locust are great for strengthening the lower back, Brad. You can find full instructions here:

www.yoga15.com/home/athlete-pose-of-the-week-cobra
www.yoga15.com/locust

Plank is great too:

www.yoga15.com/plank

I would try to do one of these poses every day, building up to a minute or so holds.
  • + 2
 Thank you Abi! I will add cobra and locust this afternoon, plank and i go waaaay back. Thanks Again!
  • + 6
 And don't forget side plank!
  • + 2
 @yoga15app I really appreciate this I went ahead an bought the whole series on Vimeo. It would be cool if we could get a schedule or something to kind of have a baseline of which ones to do when and then just supplement with specific ones when we have specific issues to work on.
  • + 1
 I am actually putting together an ebook Caleb with detailed instructions and vids for the poses with variations and modifications. It's also going to contain a training schedule. I'll let you know when it's available. In the meantime, if you want to send me a direct message with your current training program, I would be happy to advise you when and how often you should do each of the routines.
  • + 2
 I cycle so much and run so little that if I play football with mates I'm completely crippled for the next few days. The points at the start of this article make a lot of sense, I'll have to give the exercises a try for a couple of weeks to see if it helps after the next game!
  • + 2
 Thank you again. Hips and psoas, exactly my main issue. I so want to do one legged downward dog but it makes my hips and quads scream. What a difficult combination of tension and relaxation! I think Cobra and the seated stretches are plenty for now.
  • + 3
 Remember you can have your legs bent as much as you need to in One-Legged Down Dog @captaingrumpy. But you're right - it takes a lot of upper body strength too.
  • + 1
 Abi, this was great. I cannot believe how quickly 15minutes goes by. It honestly felt like 3-5 minutes to me. I have not been healing as fast as I once did, and I have been having a lot of pulled muscles in my back. My broken feet and ankles are often tight and sore. I don't want to get old. I am sure following your yoga recommendations will help me regain much of what I have lost. You have a new follower. Any reccomendations for ankle flexibility? I broke a cuboid and neglected to do much rehab since i never saw a doctor for it. Thanks.
  • + 1
 Flexibility and mobility training will certainly help you feel more supple and younger in your body @takeiteasyridehard. As yoga is a form of bodyweight exercise, it's awesome for ankle mobility. Try some of my other routines on Pink Bike or find the complete MTB series here:

vimeo.com/ondemand/yogaforbikers
  • + 1
 I have been doing Yoga for 7 years now daily. Yah, my friends used to laugh at me... until I walk away from any crash unscathed. I cant believe how much it has helped me. Abi, this is a great series on PB you have been doing. I love learning new poses.
  • + 1
 Thank you so much @steelpolish. If you go to my site, I break down lots more poses and give modifications and variations. Here is the link:

www.yoga15.com/home?category=Athlete+Pose+Of+The+Week
  • + 1
 I am 60 years old with bad knees and hips. But, I love to get after it on my bike. Abi, after only 1 week this workout has made a HUGE difference in my uphill riding and pain relief. I'm looking for more of your videos. Thanks so much!
  • + 1
 That's awesome @Carybrus. You can find all my vids here. There's over 100 to keep you busy!

www.yoga15.com/vimeo

Maybe try the All-Rounder or the Starter Pack first.
  • + 1
 Thanks a bunch - love your routines ...i don't have the attention span to get through a full yoga class and stick with doing it right. Your 15 min routines, however allow me to focus and do every pose correctly without my mind drifting to riding bike or skiing instead
  • + 1
 Haha. I'm the same Chantal!
  • + 1
 @yoga15app Hi Abi, this sounds just like what I am after. My IT band gets sore after a few consecutive days on the bike, so hopefully some looser hip flexors will go a little ways to preventing this. I got a yoga mat from the wife for Christmas so no excuses now!
  • + 1
 You really do have no excuses @krager! And you might want to try foam rolling your IT Band too as it is a hard muscle to stretch.
  • + 2
 great exercises as always Abi. PS - I do these and they really help. I have also started Foundation Training - you should check out Youtube....has boosted my posterior chain strength.
  • + 1
 Thank you Robyn. I love Eric Goodman's stuff. You're right - it's imperative that you activate and strengthen your glutes as well. It's a great point that @joose also brought up.

Here are some yoga poses to strengthen the lower back and glutes:

Snake and Locust:

www.yoga15.com/home/athlete-pose-of-the-week-cobra
www.yoga15.com/locust

Plank:

www.yoga15.com/plank

I would try to hold one of these poses every day.
  • + 5
 we need to get Abi a bike !
  • + 2
 Thank you so much Abi! I've lost some flexibility due to injuries over the years. This is a great way to improve flexibility and mobility I'm new to yoga and would like to continue with it!
  • + 1
 Awesome @dirtprint45. Try to practice one of these routines 2-3 times a week and you will start to notice great improvements. Take it easy at first though. You have to be pretty patient, especially if you have suffered injuries in the past.
  • + 4
 Locked hips is probably the number one issue for most men...most only stretch back, arms, legs.
  • + 2
 That's definitely been my experience @jrocksdh
  • + 4
 Abi's back! Great article too, my hips have been giving me trouble for a long time!
  • + 3
 Thank you Andrew! Let me know how you get on with the routine.
  • + 2
 I will! Thanks for all the great articles! tup
  • + 2
 Thanks for the videos. I've been doing the full back pain relief, balance + agility, and core strengtheners videos. Feel better on and off the bike.
  • + 1
 That's awesome Erick. Hopefully this routine will help you to continue improving your flexibility.
  • + 1
 Thank you Abi! This is my go to post ride routine. My hips are awfully tight. All of your videos are exactly what I look for- quick, simple to follow, and effective. Keep them coming
  • + 1
 Will do! Which poses do you find most effective? I am writing a new MTB series with shorter, longer and more 15 minute routines.
  • + 2
 Abi, got to tell you I've been using your videos and my lower / middle back pain has all but gone. Wish I'd found it sooner.
Thanks!
  • + 1
 That's incredible @The-Reverend. I'm so happy that your pain has gone. Thank you for letting me know. Keep it up!
  • + 2
 These articles are fantastic. Thanks for providing good quick routines that really target the weaknesses many of us end up with. Keep 'em coming!
  • + 1
 Will do @kickstand1. Thanks!
  • + 2
 Great stuff Abi. And if anyone is doing this and wanting more intensity Eion Finn happy hips will tune you up. Im sure Abi has some more advanced stuff though too.
  • + 1
 Thank you Abi, I just started going to yoga with my girlfriend and wow! I really enjoy it, I will have to look up all the past videos and start trying them at home. Keep up the great work!
  • + 1
 That's awesome @stickman5000. Thanks.
  • + 2
 Holly moley, I'm watching this knowing it with help me know end.... I'm just worried something may fall off my slightly neglected body lol... Keep up the good work
  • + 1
 Just start slow @rudedude78!
  • + 3
 Came for the comments, stayed for the Yoga. Thanks Abi.
  • + 1
 Thanks Mark!
  • + 1
 Hi Abi, never really tried any Yoga, but this one seem to solve some issues for me, i could feel the blood flowing freely into my legs again!
  • + 2
 Awesome. Try to keep it up 2-3 times week to notice a real difference @flymcg.
  • + 1
 @yoga15app
I had surgery on my right clavicle because ..well I broke it. Any videos coming soon for upper body and shoulder movement?
  • + 1
 Neck and shoulders coming up Blake.

You'll also find a vid in my mtb series: vimeo.com/ondemand/yogaforbikers
  • + 2
 I totally need this. Looking forward to getting home and trying it out mixed with the lower back routine. Thanks Abi.
  • + 1
 Nice one!
  • + 1
 Thank you Abi first time trying yoga and it does help! I've lost some flexibility due to injuries over the years and these exercises definitely help loosen the muscles
  • + 2
 This was great. I could do most of the positions and will continue to try. Thanks for posting these!
  • + 1
 No problem @conv3rt. It may take a few weeks for your body to adjust to the poses but then you should start to notice a real difference.
  • + 2
 cheers, sticking to it is another challenge all together. I will add this to my scheduled stretches as I find this more engaging than typical callisthenic stretches. Interesting how the breathing was also a challenge. thanks again
  • + 2
 Thanks Abi for another awesome training. Love you videos and ues them regulary
  • + 1
 Amazing. Thanks @pixelcreature.
  • + 1
 If I do this I will feel 10 years younger, that would make me 6 years old according to the benefits. What a way to go back to my days of intellect!
  • + 1
 Its back to the pump track for you Sparky!
  • + 2
 Already did this yesterday before climbing, helped out allot! Abi always comes in handy!
  • + 2
 This is exactly what I need, I am going to do this tomorrow morning. Thank you Abi!
  • + 1
 My pleasure @thelostboy. Just make sure your muscles are warm before you do the routine.
  • + 3
 It's like you built this just for me, exactly what I needed. Thanks Abi
  • + 2
 Awesome Matt. Let me know if you have any questions.
  • - 1
 I'd love to think Abi was a real person but all signs point towards her being a very talented and attractive model to market the Yoga15 app. Go ahead and Google if you disagree.
  • + 2
 I'm flattered! "I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids."
  • + 2
 I really needed this. Thank you!
  • + 2
 No problem Ryan. I hope it helps to loosen you up.
  • + 2
 Thanks Abi, these are an incredible resource
  • + 1
 Thanks Jason! I'll keep the vids coming.
  • + 1
 Brilliant routine, thanks! What style of yoga is this based on? Iyengar? Or just dynamic mobility movements? Thank you
  • + 1
 Thank you Tom @tvaux. Iyengar is great as it's heavily focussed on alignment but it involves a lot of props and I wanted to keep these routines as simple as possible for you guys.

This is hatha which is is generally a fairly slow style (vinyasa is faster and more fluid). However, it is hard to categorise yoga as most of the styles are not particularly clearly defined.

I describe my yoga as skills-based, efficient and non-spiritual with a focus on pain relief, performance enhancement and recovery.

I hope that helps!
  • + 1
 Thats great, thank you Smile I have really been into my yoga recently, I am a pilates instructor, but enjoy the extra flexibility benefits of yoga being a time trialist as well as enduro rider, thanks again for the videos
  • + 3
 thanks for that
  • + 2
 No problem @Two-planker - I hope it helps
  • + 3
 Great, thank you Abi!
  • + 2
 No problem Tamas. Let me know how you get on.
  • + 2
 On point!!! Thx Abi! I'm Gona add a few of these poses to my routine!
  • + 1
 Awesome @jamezyo - I hope they make all the difference.
  • + 2
 Abi you are awesome, thanks 100X for the video's
  • + 1
 Thank you so much Dylan!
  • + 2
 I'm guessing this would help with apt/bad posture too
  • + 1
 Absolutely @lab7digital.
  • + 1
 Thanks
  • + 0
 Imagine Abi doing a yoga sessh at one of the DH bike parks. And i would be one of the students amount the crowd
  • + 2
 Be careful what you wish for @femto505!
  • + 2
 YogaGainz.
  • + 1
 My hips are sooo open right now...
  • + 1
 I saw absolutely no yogurt - I want my money back!
  • + 1
 I don't know where to start with this yoga stuff.
  • + 2
 Simply the best!
  • + 1
 Thanks @gaoyiyang! Hope you're staying consistent!
  • + 1
 I got a fracture on my right hand little finger two and half months ago, so had to stay off for a while. Now i am back on track, hopefully to recover ASAP.
  • + 1
 Oh boy. I hope you heal quickly.
  • + 2
 Thank you, Abi. No worry. In fact I had a surgery after that and got a metal plate and pins inside. Now there's no more pain but I feel like terminator with a metal fist, haha,
  • + 1
 Hahahaha.
  • + 1
 More of these please, thanks Abi!
  • + 2
 I'll keep 'em coming Chad!
  • + 1
 Watching this I realize just how inflexible I really am.
  • + 1
 What can you do to warm up the muscles ?
  • + 2
 Bodyweight squats, lunges, jumping jacks, high knees, jogging on the spot, mobility drills - basically any type of dynamic movement.
  • + 0
 Time to throttle up chaps.
  • + 0
 "Tit width apart."
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