Sadness and Stress: Are Your Tight Hips Holding You Back?

The mind-body connection is particularly strong as it relates to one’s hips. The hips tend to carry emotion; tight hips have been linked to sadness and emotional stress for various physiological reasons including the proximity to certain organs and muscles as well as chakras. Both western and eastern medicine are aligned when it comes to the general link between the hips and emotion.


The following article takes a deep dive into the intricacies of tight hips and the science behind how they are linked to one’s physical and mental health.

By the end of this article, you will be an expert on the effects of tight hips, how to identify if you have them, and even, a solution to loosening them and therefore improving your overall well being.

So, let’s explore the important relationship between sadness and stress and whether your tight hips are holding you back.

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Understanding the Anatomy of the Hips

We tend to forget just how much work certain parts of our bodies are doing at any given time.

Hips rest on either side of the pelvis. Hips are joints, they are actually one of the biggest joints in the human body and responsible for moving our legs, bearing weight, and stabilizing our cores.

Needless to say, our hips have a big job and the average person does not give them nearly enough attention for doing that job.

The Psoas Muscle Group

Located towards the front of the inner hip, this muscle group is key to the healthy functioning of the human body. Why? The Psoas supports our core, stabilizing our spines and therefore, our posture.

The Sex Organs

Now, the hips are also located in and around the sex organs. In some eastern spiritual traditions these are said to be responsible for creativity, potency and power. While I, as a Christian and a reformed new-ager don’t have much time for other spiritual philosophies, I do actually believe that chakras are real – but they are in the category of being in ‘the hidden things of God’.

It makes sense then that we would want our bodies to function as intended. Any restriction, inflexibility or immobility in the hips may adversely effect this area.

The Kidneys

Located just near the psoas muscle group are the kidneys. The kidneys get rid of the toxins in our body and are therefore essential to our well being.

The Adrenal Glands

Perhaps the most interesting science behind emotional stress and tight hips relates to the adrenal glands which rest just above the kidneys. This information section by Johns Hopkins Medicine explains how the adrenal glands produce hormones that regulate the metabolism, immune system, and blood pressure.

But it is the adrenal glands’ function of regulating the body’s stress response that is particularly important when it comes to tight hips and mental health.

The adrenal glands produce cortisol (the stress hormone) which enables your body to deal with stressful and emergency situations.

If your hips are tight and hurting, then the function of your adrenal glands may not be up to par. This could lead to improper production of cortisol regulation which puts your body into its “fight or flight” mode when it may not need to be which can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression.

Emotional and Work Related Stress and Tight Hips

Everybody is unique and therefore tight hips are not always the root of the problem when it comes to suffering from emotional stress. However, because of the anatomical reasons mentioned above, studies are increasingly looking to the hips for explanations of emotional stress.

Posture and Emotional Stress

According to this study published by the National Library of Medicine, poor posture is connected to various emotional responses which contribute to one’s mental health. The study shows that participants with an upright posture reported better self-esteem, arousal, mood, and even lower levels of fear than the participants who held a slumped posture.

The latter group also demonstrated the use of far more words (during a linguistic analysis) associated with negativity. These included many more “sadness” words.

As the movement of the hips is deeply related to one’s ability to maintain an upright posture, this link explains in part how tight hips and emotional stress are inextricably linked.

Hips: The “Emotional Junk Drawer” of the Body

Many yoga teachers use this phrase when teaching students about the importance of maintaining healthy hip functionality. Why? Because the hips are said to hold onto emotions.

This study, published by the American Psychological Association, describes an effect called interoceptive feedback which is the scientific way of explaining the mind-body connection.

Our bodies tend to carry emotion throughout them. For instance, the adage “go with your gut” stems from the idea that our bodies are constantly sending us messages that relate to the emotions we feel.

The sacral chakra which is associated with the hips region of the body is traditionally thought to govern how one experiences creativity and emotion among other important aspects of life.

Proponents of Eastern mysticism say that this chakra can become unbalanced and even blocked. Tight hips are one way in which our bodies may tell us that certain areas are blocked or unbalanced because of the emotional stress we feel.

How Can Tight Hips Compromise My Workout?

As our hips are the second largest joint in our bodies, they are incredibly important when it comes to movement and functionality of the body.

Poor Posture

Poor posture is dangerous when it comes to lifting weights, doing cardio, and essentially, most exercises. Poor posture, which for the reasons above, is often a product of tight hips, means one’s spine is not protected.

An unprotected spine can lead to injury during workouts as well as less effective workouts generally because postures will not be held as they are intended.

Any athlete or avid gym goer will know that proper form is essential when it comes to exercise and tight hips inhibit proper form.

Depression, Fatigue, and Stress

Getting your butt to the gym isn’t always easy, however, it is worlds more difficult if your mental health is suffering. The mind-body connection is often felt in one’s hips and thus, the tighter your hips, the less inclined you may be to work out.

Unfortunately, this has a snowball effect in that exercise provides us which much-need endorphins. Further, the more sedentary one’s lifestyle, the tighter their hips will be.

Will Yoga Loosen My Tight Hips?

Flow yoga is very helpful when it comes to releasing tension in one’s tight hips. However, traditional yoga favors static stretching. Though holding poses for extended periods of time can be wonderful for one’s mental and physical strength, it may not be productive for loosening tight hips.

Dynamic movements are far more effective for hips than the static ones common in traditional yoga.

How to Tell if Your Hips Are Holding You Back? (5 Checks)

Now, tight hips are incredibly common and the good news is that you can loosen them up to improve your overall well-being.

The first step to doing so, however, is identifying the issue. So, let’s take a look at 5 simple ways of telling whether your hips may be the problem.

5 signs that your tight hips are compromising your health:

1. Pain When Stretching Your Hip Muscles

The easiest way to tell whether your hips are tighter than they should be is by stretching your hips and noticing whether you feel pain in them or not.

2. Pain When Applying Pressure to Your Hip Area

If you place your hand on the front of your hip region or on either side of your pelvis and feel any kind of pressure or pain, then it is likely a sign of overly tight hips. The more you feel around to understand

exactly where this pain is most acute, the better you will be able to identify effective remedies that target that specific hip area.

3. The Tight Hip Test

Lay on your back and ensure each part of your spine is touching the ground beneath you so that your back isn’t arched. Pull one knee into your chest and see if you feel any pain. If you do feel pain then stop as you evidently have rather tight hips.

Otherwise, keep pulling to see how flexible your hips are. If your movement is limited, it is likely indicative of medium-tight hips and certain stretches may be an easy fix.

4. Leg Misalignment

Tight hips may throw your alignment off entirely. If you stand naturally in front of a mirror and notice either that your pelvic bone is titled forward, your knees are rotated inwards, or your foot and ankle are rotated inwards then it may be indicative of tight hips.

5. Your Hips Are Noisy

Lay on your back and bring your knee to your chest and then butterfly it out to the side, and listen closely. If you hear or feel any sort of popping or clicking then it’s likely that your hips are tighter than they should be. Think of it as your hips screaming out that they need some TLC.

Final thoughts

Now, that you know all about the intricacies of tight hips and their link to mental and physical health, it’s time to get to work on loosening them out.

I stumbled upon this program for tight hips which was transformational in dealing with my tight hip issues. This year I have felt the stress drain away from my body and have regained a level of mental clarity that I thought I’d never again know. Additionally, my workouts are once again full of intensity and I’m making back lost gains.

Even now, the stretches featured in this hip health program are my go-to stretches during my lunch break or pre-workout warm up.


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