In the clinic, we very often see patients with low back or knee problems that stem from poor mobility and strength in the hips. Often, patients will tell me that they stretch their hips all the time but don’t seem to be getting looser. When this is the case, often what patients need to work on is hip stability.
Hips can feel tight because the muscles around the joint can sense your hips are not moving in controlled manners, most often in rotational motions (golf, tennis, paddleball, etc.). As a result, they tighten up as a protective mechanism. A great exercise to work on your hip stability, that will also lead to improved mobility, is Hip Airplanes.
How to do a Hip Airplane:
The key is to keep your back straight and to keep your knee cap pointed forward. Turn in towards the down hip and pause, then rotate outwards as far as you can and hold. This will stretch the hips in multiple plans and will also train your muscles to stabilize the hip properly. To make it harder, try doing it without holding on!