If you’ve struggled with a hip injury before, you know how completely debilitating they can be in general, let alone when it comes to hitting the pickleball court. Falls are the most common cause of hip injuries, and falling is definitely a regular occurrence when playing high-energy games of pickleball!
Not only do they slow you down, but they’re also notorious as one of the most prevalent injuries in pickleball. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized from fall injuries, with almost 300,000 of those being hip fractures.
However, there are ways of being proactive in your hip strength, which can help decrease the likelihood of injury. Let’s take a look at our four favorite exercises that will help loosen and strengthen your hips!
As our friendly neighborhood trainer Brady demonstrates in the video above, hip airplanes are an excellent exercise for improving hip strength and overall balance when on the pickleball court. As he mentions, if you have weak hips, tight calves, or just legs in general, you should 100% be including these in your warm-up routine.
Here’s how to perform hip airplanes:
- Hinge at the hip and stand on one leg.
- Rotate your torso and hips upwards, bringing your free leg up as well.
- Rotate back downwards to the initial position.
- Repeat this process for 3 sets of 8 for each leg.
It’s okay if you don’t have the balance to do these without holding onto something, as assisted hip airplanes can be just as effective at strengthening and loosening up your hips. If you’re doing these at the pickleball courts, grasping a fence or net post is an excellent option for assisted stability.
Grab your set of resistance bands because banded clamshells are another top-tier hip warmup exercise! It’s a simple exercise that will stretch out your glutes, outer thighs, and inner thighs while strengthening your hips.
How to perform resistance band clamshells:
- Lay down on your side with your knees slightly bent, making sure that your resistance band is wrapped around both of your thighs.
- Keep your feet together, and lift your top knee upwards while keeping one leg firmly on the ground.
- Lower your knee back to the initial position.
- Repeat this process in sets of 10-15 reps, 2 times for each side.
The Copenhagen hip adductors exercise is a popular variation on the clamshells if you don’t have a resistance band on hand. It specifically targets your adductors, making this one of the most effective exercises at improving hip strength.
Here’s our preferred method of Copenhagen Adductors:
- Find a bench or chair to use for foot placement.
- Lay on your side, placing one leg on top of the bench. Move your arm into a side-plank position.
- Lift the leg underneath the bench upwards to your other leg.
- Move the leg back down to the resting position.
- Repeat this process in sets of 8-10 reps, 3 times on each side.
90/90 Hip Switch
This last exercise is an easy-to-perform stretch that will help you get the most out of your other hip exercises. They get their name from the 90-degree angles your legs need to go into while seated. Once you’re sitting properly, you’ll be able to stretch out your inner and outer hip muscles by rolling back and forth across your body.
How to perform 90/90 hip switches:
- Sit on the ground, preferably on a mat.
- Open up your seated position so that the outer leg is flush with the outer knee touching the ground and your leg at a 90-degree angle. Your other leg, also at a 90-degree angle, should be crossed in front of you with the inner knee touching the ground.
- Gradually shift your position back and forth across your body while keeping your feet planted on the ground.
- If this motion is too difficult, you can use your hands as a support by setting them straight out behind you.
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