Why Hip Openers Are NOT The Solution To Tight, Achy Hips

Hip Openers

Some of the most common (and beloved!) poses in yoga include traditional hip openers…but these poses may not be serving your post-baby body.

Read below (or watch the video) to understand why!

As a new yoga teacher I LOVED putting people into some long hip openers. Think half-pigeon and Baddha Konasana, poses where the legs externally rotate to open the hips.

Well, you know what they say… when you know better, you do better. Now, when I see extended hip openers in a yoga class, I cringe.

For most postpartum bodies, traditional hip openers aren’t helping…and are possibly making hip issues worse. 

Here’s why…

Pregnancy As An Injury

In many ways, pregnancy acts like an injury to the body.

Pregnancy creates muscular imbalances that destabilize parts of the body.

Most notably, the core and pelvic floor get weak, and the back and hip flexors overwork (and get tight) to compensate.

The Core Stabilizes The Spine and Pelvis

In an ideal world, the core creates stability for the spine and pelvis (among other jobs).

The muscle tone in your core keeps your spine from being too loosy-goosy. This prevents herniated discs and other back issues that we don’t want.

The abdominals also stabilize the pelvis from above and keep the pelvis from shifting around with every step we take.

Related Post: The Best Postpartum Core Strengtheners

Pregnancy Causes Overworked Hips

However, as your baby grows during pregnancy, your core gets weak and can’t provide the stability the body needs.

Other parts of the body pick up the slack.

The muscles of the back and the hip flexors, especially the psoas, start working overtime to stabilize the spine.

This creates a lovely, messy cascade in the body.

With the psoas doing the job of the core, the pelvis loses stability.

With a loosy-goosy pelvis, another muscle, the tensor fasciae latae (TFL), starts overworking.

The TFL is on your outer hip, around where your pant pockets would be. It’s primarily responsible for turning the leg out.  

But when it needs to, it can tighten to create stability in the pelvis. (Sidenote: the TFL connects to the IT band. If your ITB has been bothering you since pregnancy, the TFL might be the culprit!)

So, as your core gets weak, the back, psoas and TFL are working overtime on jobs they aren’t designed to do. This impacts other body parts.

The TFL shuts off the glutes. Hello mom butt!

When that happens it causes more instability for the pelvis, so other areas kick in.

Sometimes this includes the pelvic floor. (If you’ve got a tight pelvic floor…this might be why!)

What do you get from this shift in muscular action?

Things like extremely tight hips, an unstable pelvis, SI joint instability, IT band flare ups, and that post-pregnancy mom-butt!

STRETCHING IS NOT THE ANSWER!

When we feel tight and achy…what do we do?

Most of us immediately think ‘STRETCH!’

We get into half-pigeon and other hip openers to get some relief.

Unfortunately, when we stretch, we force the muscles that are desperately trying to create stability to lengthen. 

Think about that for a moment…what are you doing to your body?

By stretching muscles that are holding things in place, you destabilize the entire system.

This is the reason that the relief you get from stretching doesn’t seem to last for long…and why you may feel EVEN tighter afterward.

Your muscles are trying to protect you from the length you’ve created.

For more on this and a few other myths about fixing your hips, head here.

A Different Approach To Hip Health

So what do we do? If you’re feeling chronically tight or unstable, I know you want relief.

And while stretching can be helpful, our top priority must be to rebuild balance in your body.

The approach I take to this is described by my 3-part Fix Your Hip Formula.

For lasting hip health, you need to:

  • STRENGTHEN your core, pelvic floor, and glutes to give your hips a break. (Click here for a simple outer hip strengthener)
  • RELAX overworked muscles to reduce long-standing tension patterns. And,
  • REINFORCE these patterns in your daily movement.

And…you’re in luck, because I have a FREE Happy Hips Masterclass that will show you how to get started. 

Most women don’t realize that hip issues are extremely common, especially after having a baby. But you do NOT have to put up with hip pain or instability. These issues are fixable!

Join Our FREE Happy Hips Masterclass!

Hip Masterclass Opt In

You May Also Like…

How & Why I Prioritize Movement

How & Why I Prioritize Movement

Nine years into this mothering gig and there’s still much for me to learn.  Despite that, most days feel relatively smooth and peaceful in our house. Of course, we have our bad days and tantrums. But, most of the time we’ve got a rhythm that works for all of us.  A...

read more
Side Sleeper? How To Prevent Hip Pain While Sleeping

Side Sleeper? How To Prevent Hip Pain While Sleeping

Many women experience hip pain while sleeping, or upon waking. This short video tutorial shares how to prevent hip pain while side sleeping. Not a side sleeper? Head here for tips on preventing hip and back pain when sleeping on your back. How To Prevent Hip Pain...

read more
How To Protect Your Core When Picking Things Up

How To Protect Your Core When Picking Things Up

One truth of parenting…you are always picking things up! The way you pick things up can either help, or hurt, your core strength, back health, and diastasis recti healing. In this post, I’m sharing simple movement tips to protect your core (and back) when picking...

read more