10 of the Best Hip Stretches Ever

10 of the Best Hip Stretches Ever

Life in the 21st century has given us many things: cheap communication… electric cars… personalized entertainment…

And tight hips.

Consider: all of the time you spend online (over 10 hours a day, by some estimates) — whether you’re drafting spreadsheets, posting on Instagram, or watching BatDad Vine compilations — is also spent in a chair. That’s a lot of time for your hip joints to be stuck in a single position.

That’s a problem. “Elongated periods of sitting sends messages to certain muscles to stay turned on which keeps other muscles turned off,” says Openfit fitness specialist Cody Braun. “This creates an imbalance, which can immobilize your hips.” Your hips are built to move in almost any direction, explains Braun, and when they’re stiff, they don’t just make exercise more difficult; they also make you more prone to pain in surrounding joints — including the oft-troublesome lower back.

If, like most of us, your hip joints could use some TLC, help has arrived. All you need to do is spend a moment or two before and after your workouts — or, heck, while watching TV — on a time-honored fitness activity that few of us do enough of: stretching. Below, we’ll show you some of the best hip stretches to improve flexibility and mobility, hopefully making up for all that time on the couch.

Why Hip Mobility Is Important

Quick physiology lesson: when a joint becomes stiff and immobile, the joint above and below it moves to compensate. So if you can’t move your hips, you’ll move your lower back instead.

Know anyone with lower back pain?

Oh, that’s right — the overwhelming majority of Americans has lower back pain. If that includes you, you may benefit from making some or all of the hip stretches below part of your regular routine.

But mobile hip joints don’t just relieve pain. They’re also essential for walking, hiking, running, jumping, dancing, playing sports, and pursuing virtually any fitness goal safely and effectively. Want to develop stronger, more muscular legs? Hip mobility allows you to lunge and squat more deeply so you can reach your muscles’ potential. Want to avoid injury? Hip mobility improves range of motion so you can perform exercises more safely.

Anatomy of the Hips

The pelvis, that sturdy, bony structure that houses your hip joints, is the Grand Central Station of the body: dozens of different muscles, nerves, and tendons attach to and pass through it. The main ones you’ll focus on in your hip stretches are:

hip stretches muscles anatomyHip flexors

These muscles extend roughly from your spine to your thighs. Their main job is to pull your thighs toward your chest. When they’re tight, they can pull the front of your pelvis downward, causing strain and pain in your lower back.


This muscle group, including the biceps femoris muscle, runs along the backs of your thighs from your hips to your knees. Your hams oppose your quadriceps, bending your knee and helping to extend (straighten) your hip joints behind you.


Located on the insides of your thighs, these muscles squeeze your legs together, and can cause tightness and limitation when you step laterally (sideways).


The butt muscles work along with the hamstrings to extend, or straighten, your hips, and, with the aid of the abductors on the outsides of your hips, raise your legs out to the sides.

Stretch these four main areas to help increase mobility, and you’ll be good to go.

2 Main Types of Stretching and When to Use Them

The 10 hip stretches below offer two different stretching techniques: dynamic and static stretches, which you should use at different times.

Dynamic stretching

These are large, full-range movements of one or more joints at once, often performed standing and sometimes while walking or jogging. They resemble old-school movements you might have done in calisthenics or gym class: arm swings, leg swings, high-knee walks. You usually count off reps, rather than time, on dynamic stretches, which work best as a warm-up activity before a workout, or any time you need a pick-me-up boost throughout the day.

Static stretching

These movements are slower and mellower; they’re the reach-and-hold stretches you might see in a basic yoga or stretching class. Forward bends, knees-wide butterfly stretches, the pigeon, or the figure 4 pose in yoga are classic examples.

Often you’ll perform static stretches seated or lying down, and focus on breathing slowly and deeply to facilitate relaxation — sometimes for several minutes at a time. Static stretches can be very effective at loosening you up, but they also inhibit performance in the stretched muscles for a short time afterwards. So they’re best reserved for after a workout, or as an any-time stress reliever — just not right before a workout involving the muscles you’re stretching.

10 of the Best Pre- and Post-Workout Hip Stretches

Together with a healthy diet and a great workout program, the following hip stretches will leave you feeling and looking your best.

Seated Leg Cradle

Type of Stretch: Static

Benefits: Lengthens and relieves tension in the glutes, adductors, and hamstrings.

• Sit on the floor with both legs extended straight in front of you, feet flexed.

• Keeping your back straight, draw your right knee toward your chest, and try one or more of the following variations:

  1. Holding your right knee in your right hand, grab your right ankle with your left hand and draw it toward your chest as far as you can.
  2. Draw your right ankle toward your chest and rest your lower leg inside the creases of your elbows, bending them to draw your leg as close as you can to your chest.
  3. Draw your right ankle toward your chest and wrap your arms around the lower leg, interlacing your fingers with your knee inside the crease of your right elbow and your foot inside the crook of your left. Hug your lower leg toward your chest as far as you can.

• Keeping your back flat, your chest up, and both feet flexed, rock slightly left and right.

• Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

frog pose yoga mandukasana woman

Frog Stretch with Alternating Legs

• Lie facedown, bend your knees about 90 degrees, and spread them as wide as you can. Fold your hands under your forehead to relax your upper body.

• Keeping your knees bent, slowly roll your right thigh inward, lowering your right foot toward the floor.

• Try to tap your right foot on the floor, and reverse the move, repeating on your other side.

• Continue slowly alternating sides for 30 seconds.

Type of stretch: Dynamic

Benefits: Stretches the adductors and improves mobility in the hip capsule.

Standing Butterfly Lift

Type of stretch: Dynamic

Benefits: Activates the glutes while improving mobility in the hip capsule (the ligament that attaches the leg to the pelvis) and adductors.

• Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart about 18 inches behind two yoga blocks positioned on the floor at the tallest height.

• Hinge forward at your hips and place your hands on the blocks. (If that’s too difficult, use a taller surface like a chair instead.)

• Bend your right knee, pulling your heel towards your right glute, and keep it there throughout the set. This is your starting position.

• Keeping your back flat and standing leg straight, lift your right knee as far out to your right side as you can.

• Reverse the move, lowering your right knee until it’s close to your left.

• Repeat for 10-12 controlled repetitions, then repeat on your other side.

Baddha Konasana bound angle butterfly pose Yoga52 Odette Hughes

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Type of stretch: Static

Benefits: Lengthens the adductors and reduces tension along the entire spine and back of the neck.

• Sit on the floor upright with your legs bent, the soles of your feet together, and your knees spread wide.

• Keeping your knees spread as wide as possible, take hold of your feet and slowly pull your forehead towards the floor.

• Hold this stretched position for 30-60 seconds.


Scorpion Pose

Type of stretch: Dynamic

Benefits: Stretches the quads and hip flexors, and activates the glutes.

• Lie on your stomach, with your legs straight, and arms extended out to the sides, forming a “T.” Your palms should face down.

• Keeping your left leg straight, lift your right leg off the floor, bend your right knee, and cross your right foot behind your left, continuing up toward your left hand.

• Try to tap your left hand with your right foot, and return to the starting position.

• Continue for 30 seconds, and repeat on your other side.

Best Hip Stretches - runner's lunge

Runner’s Lunge

Type of stretch: Static or dynamic, depending on how long you hold the position.

Benefits: Stretches the adductors and glutes.

• Assume a pushup position: hands and balls of your feet on the floor, both shoulder-width apart, and your body straight from head to heels.

• Step your right foot to a point just outside your right hand. (Your right knee should be near your right shoulder.) If possible, lower your elbows to the floor.

• Hold for 15 seconds, and reverse the move to return to the starting position

• Repeat the entire sequence on your other side.

Sumo Squat with Reach

Type of stretch: Dynamic/static

Benefits: Strengthens the glutes and shoulders, stretches the adductors, opens the hip joints, and rib cage.

• Assume a wide stance, turning both feet out about 45 degrees.

• Keeping your torso upright, and your core engaged, bend your knees and lower your trunk as you extend both arms straight out to the sides, palms down, forming a “T.”

• Perform three pulses downward, sinking more deeply into this wide-stance (“sumo”) squat each time.

• Keeping your back long and your arms straight, bend your torso to the left as far as you can, and try to place your left palm on the floor near the inside of your left foot.

• Look up at your right palm and hold the position for a 5- to 10-count.

• Brace your core to return to the starting position, and perform the entire sequence on your other side.

Inner Thigh stretch

Type of stretch: Static

Benefits: Lengthens the adductors and hamstrings.

• Sit on the floor with your right leg straight, your left knee bent and your left foot flat on the floor.

• Loop a strap around the arch of your right foot, and lie back as you raise your right leg straight overhead. This is your starting position.

• Lower your left knee outward toward the floor as far as you can, as if performing a half-butterfly stretch.

• Holding the ends of the strap in your right hand, pull it back until you feel a deep stretch in the back of your right thigh and, keeping your right leg straight, slowly lower it out to the right as far as possible.

• Place your left hand on the inside of your left knee and gently press it downward toward the floor, holding for 30 seconds.

• Slowly bring your right leg and left knee back to the starting position, and repeat the entire sequence on your other side.


Type of stretch: Dynamic

Benefits: Stretches the glutes, adductors, and hip flexors.

• Assume a pushup position: hands and balls of your feet on the floor, both shoulder-width apart, and your body straight from head to heels.

• Step your right foot to a point just outside your right hand.

• Sink into the move for a one-count, lowering your hips as far as possible.

• Return your foot to the starting position.

• Continue for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Too tough? Perform the move with your hands elevated on yoga blocks.

World’s Greatest Stretch

Type of stretch: Static

Benefits: Lengthens the hip flexors, adductors, chest, and rib cage.

• Start in a deep lunge with your right foot forward, your left knee and top of your left foot on the floor behind you, and your palms about hip distance apart on the floor inside your right foot.

• Keeping your back flat and both arms straight, lift your right hand up toward the ceiling as high as you can, twisting your torso into your right knee.

• Hold for 10 seconds, then return your right hand to the floor.

• Maintaining the same position in your lower body, lift your left arm up towards the ceiling in the same manner.

• Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly return your left hand to the floor.

• Switch sides, and repeat the sequence.

Andrew Heffernan CSCS, GCFP


Andrew Heffernan, CSCS, GCFP is a fitness coach, Feldenkrais practitioner, and an award-winning health and fitness writer. His work appears regularly in Men's Health and Experience Life. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. Learn more at andrewheffernan.com and follow him on Instagram at @andrewheffernanfitness.