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exercise for hip strength

Strengthen Your Back, Hips, and Legs with Posting (“Horse Stance”)

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I trained in martial arts for 10 years. 

At one point in time, I did a black belt test that included a 15-minute horse stance.  Looking back, I still can't believe I did that.  I mean, why?  What's the point?

Kidding.  It was a lesson in perseverance.  And strength.  

You don’t have to be a martial artist to enjoy the benefits of horse stance.

Horse stance strengthens your legs, hips, and back so you can live the life you want to live.  A life without pain.  

And you don't need to do it for 15 minutes!  1 minute a couple times per week will do the trick just fine.  

There are 6 motions you need your hips to do to stay strong, flexibile and agile.  This activates two of those – adduction and abduction (side to side).  Two others, extension and flexion we go over in the post on lunges.   

The secret is doing it with the right posture … and consistency.

What to Focus On:

Knees push out over the toes.  

Keep your hips anteverted (tilted forward).  

Keep the bottom of your ribs moving toward the front of your hips and your shoulders going down your back to keep your core strong and your back straight.  

Breathe in – visualize a tall spine.  

Breathe out – visualize sinking lower.  

Don't sink your butt below your knees.  Keep your chin slightly tucked in.  Your hands can go out in front of your body, on your hips, or on your legs.  

The ultimate pose has your quads (fronts of the thighs) level with the ground.  If that causes you to lose the posture, come up a little higher for now.  You'll eventually build up enough strength to do it deeper.  

Common mistakes:

Leaning too far forward. 

If your hips antevert too much, you’ll end up with the top of your head reaching forward instead of up.  Correct this by coming out of the stance a little. 

Either you’re pushing yourself to go too low (ego alert) or you’re leaning too far forward.  If it’s the latter, think of the top of your head pushing toward the ceiling.  It’s normal to have a slight lean (~10 degrees or so) forward.  

Sinking your butt below your knees.  

Come up a little.  If that’s too hard, come up a lot.  

Curving your spine. 

If your ribs going to your hips causes your spine to bend instead of straighten, you need to also visualize your shoulders going down your back.  This will correct the bend.  

Knees going inside the toes.  

If you have knee pain when you do this, look down.  Think about pushing your knees out to the sides.  It may be even further than you think feels “right.” If there was an arrow shooting out the front of your kneecap, you should see it cross over your toes/shoes.  

Not breathing. 

If the pose is too hard to breathe in, make it easier.  Find your own comfort in it where you’re able to have a relaxed, slow breath.  

Also, you can try doing the pose against a wall for added support.


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