I saw a great article from www.artofmanliness.com posted on Twitter today (by @ImproveMove) that showed some great stretches for correcting the damage that sitting for long periods of time can do to your hips. I highly recommend giving the page a visit and incorporating those stretches into your routine.
I have touched on the issue of our sedentary lifestyle before, specifically, how it can affect our spine and back health. Obviously, a stiff or painful back will put anyone out of commission for a while, and that's why I spoke about it first. However, tight and painful hips will also do a number on our overall health. They can affect our digestive and reproductive health, and if you are an athlete, I'd argue that your hips are the most important part of your body.
Like I said in my vlog on Tuesday, the difference between a white belt and a black belt in martial arts is where the power of their attacks originates. In the case of the white belt, they are punching and kicking with only their limbs. In the case of the black belt, they are striking with their whole body, and the force of the ground pushing up against them, and turning that all into much more powerful attack.
There are two reasons as to why the hips are so important to athletic movement. The first, is that our hips are our biggest joint, and also the center of gravity in our body. But in the eastern tradition, just above the hips (two inches below the navel) is our bodies greatest energy reservoir, the Lower Energy Center. When we move energy from within our body outward, such as when we are playing sports, that is where it comes from.If you have tight hips, your energy in not going to flow as well as it should.
So stretch those hips! On my site, you can find numerous stretches for your hips labeled under Hips, and the Legs and Abdomen tags (because all those muscles connect to the hips, so any stretch for them is also a hip stretch).