After a full day of snowboarding, skiing or snowshoeing the muscles of the hips can shorten and tighten. Flexible, open hips are a must for winter athletes. Without them performance may decrease while the risk of injury increases.
The following hip opening yoga poses are a must for keeping the lower body healthy and limber.
Warrior I and Crescent Lunge for the Hip Flexors
The psoas muscles, located along the front crease of the hips, are the powerful muscles that give winter athletes control, stability and strength. When they are tight, the low back suffers and as a result, injury can occur.
Yoga poses that stretch the psoas muscles are warrior one and crescent lunge. Similar to a runner’s lunge, these poses extend the front of the hip, giving those mighty hip flexors a dose of elasticity. For best results, be sure to tuck your tailbone under slightly.
Pigeon Pose for the External Rotators and Hip Extenders
If there is one area in the body that works the hardest in winter sports it’s the ever so strong and tight gluteal region. Responsible for punching through deep snow, cascading down a mogul field or getting to the bottom of a slope in one piece, the glutes take a beating.
Pigeon pose is bliss for the hips. Simply stated, it is one of those all around great poses that will loosen, open and stretch all external rotators and extenders, plus give the psoas muscles a little extra attention, too. If pigeon pose causes any strain on the knees, place a pillow under the hips for support.
Angle Poses for the Internal Rotators and Hip Adductors
Stretching the inner thighs are important to reduce the incidences of groin pulls and knee injuries, especially for women who tend to have slightly wider hips. Tight inner thighs pull the knee inward and out of a natural alignment, and this can lead to unnecessary wear and tear over time.
Reclined bound angle pose and seated wide-angle forward bends are two very efficient ways to target the inner thighs. Practice one or practice them both. Just be sure and move into the poses slowly, especially the seated wide-angle pose (a.k.a. Russian splits) as this pose can be very intense for someone with tight hips.
December 16th, 2011