A year ago I had surgery on my hip, and I've religiously been going to physical therapy ever since to regain my mobility and return to sport. I do a variety of mobility exercises, but the one that has arguably made the greatest impact on my recovery is the 90/90 exercise. It's improved my hip mobility and has helped me regain full function of my hip, which is important for overall health and for those who partake in physical activity.
You don't have to have had surgery to benefit from this exercise. Trainers and fitness professionals are beginning to focus on and implement mobility work into their programming, and this is arguably one of the most popular and accessible exercises for people to do. If you have tight hips and you're unable to perform squat and hinge movements with a full range of motion, this exercise is for you. Not to mention, it can help prevent injury, lower back pain, and knee pain.
It looks easy to do, but I'm warning you now that it is challenging. To reap the benefits of this exercise, you're going to have to perform it consistently (I'm talking at least three times a week), be patient, and make sure you're moving with intent.
How to Do the 90/90 Hip Mobility Exercise
- Start seated on a yoga mat or on a comfortable surface. Make sure that your upper body is in a tall, neutral position. There shouldn't be any rounding or arching of the spine.
- From here, bring your right leg in front of you, creating a 90-degree angle at your knee and hip joints so that your shin is perpendicular to your body. If you are unable to bring your leg into a 90-degree angle, bend your right knee so that your shin is closer to your thigh. Make sure to maintain an upright position and not to shift your bodyweight to the right.
- Next, bend your left leg behind you, making 90-degree angles at your knee and hip joints. If you do not have the mobility to maintain this position, bend your left knee, bringing your shin closer to the midline of your body. Be sure to maintain an upright position with your upper body and to not shift your bodyweight to the left side.
- If this is too advanced, you can also sit on top of a yoga block or a blanket to get into the position easier.
- From here, lean forward with your upper body until you reach your end range. Be sure to maintain a neutral spine and not to shift your weight to the right or left sides of your body. Extend your arms out in front of you with your fingertips lightly touching the ground. You should feel a stretch in your right hip; be sure to keep your entire leg in contact with the ground. Hold this position for two minutes.
- From here, start to lift your left knee up off of the ground and begin to open it to the left. Try to keep the right leg on the ground for as long as possible. Next, begin to peel your right knee off the ground. Continue to lower your left knee down to the ground followed by the right as you simultaneously rotate your torso to the left. If done correctly, you should be sitting upright in the starting position, leading with your left leg.
- From here, lean forward with your upper body until you reach your end range. Be sure to maintain a neutral spine and not to shift your weight to the right or left sides of your body. Extend your arms out in front of your with your fingertips lightly touching the ground. You should feel a stretch in your left hip; be sure to keep your leg in contact with the ground. Hold this position for two minutes.
- You can also make this move more dynamic by holding for two minutes, and then beginning to "flow" between performing 90/90, leading with each leg and completing 10 rotations in total.