10 of the Best Hip Stretches Ever

10 of the Best Hip Stretches Ever

Almost all the time you spend online (over 10 hours a day, by some estimates), you also spend seated in a chair. Sitting all day may lead to tight hips, so knowing some great hip stretches may alleviate any discomfort associated with the hips and low back.

“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. Joint pain happens when other joints pick up the slack from the lack of movement that is necessary to perform the movement you want.

If your hip joints could use some TLC, help has arrived. Spend a moment or two before and after your workout — or, heck, while watching TV — stretching. Practice dynamic stretching first and static stretching second!

For more hip stretches check out Openfit’s Yoga 52 program and get started for free today! 

 

1. Seated Leg Cradle

hip stretches- seated leg cradle

Type of Stretch: Static

Benefits: Lengthens and relieves tension in the glutes and piriformis.

  • 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 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.
  •  Keep 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.

 

2. Frog Stretch

hip stretches- frog pose

Type of stretch: Dynamic

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

  • 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.
  •  Keep your knees bent and sink your hips toward the floor.
  •  Breath in and out for a few seconds.

 

3. Standing Butterfly Lift

hip stretches- standing butterfly lift

Type of stretch: Dynamic

Benefits: Activates the glutes while improving mobility in the hip capsule and stretches adductors.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart about a foot 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.
  • 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.

 

4. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

hip stretches- bound angle pose

Type of stretch: Static

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

  • 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 lean your forehead towards the floor.
  • Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.

 

5. Scorpion Pose

hip stretches- scorpion

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.” Turn your palms 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.
  • Work 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.

 

6. Runner’s Lunge

hip stretches- runners lunge

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

Benefits: Stretches the adductors, glutes, and hip flexor of the straight leg.

  •  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 knee rests next to your right shoulder). If possible, lower your elbows to the floor.
  •  Hold for a second if dynamic and about 30-seconds for static. Reverse the move to return to the starting position
  •  Repeat the entire sequence on your other side.

 

7. Sumo Squat with Reach

hip stretches- sumo squat with reach

Type of stretch: Dynamic/static

Benefits: warms up the rotational core muscles, stretches the adductors, and opens up the hips.

  • 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 hips 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 work 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 one second for dynamic and unto 30 seconds for static.
  • Brace your core to return to the starting position and perform the entire sequence on your other side.

 

8. Inner Thigh stretch

hip stretches- inner thigh stretch

Type of stretch: Static

Benefits: stretches the adductors and hamstrings.

  • Sit on the floor with your right leg straight. Bend your left knee and keep your left foot flat on the floor.
  •  Loop a strap around the arch of your right foot. Lie back as you raise your right leg straight overhead.
  • Lower your left knee 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.

 

9. Groiner

hip stretches- groiner

Type of stretch: Dynamic

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

  • Assume a pushup position-place your hands and balls of your feet on the floor (both shoulder-width apart). Keep 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.

 

10. World’s Greatest Stretch

Type of stretch: Dynamic

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

• Start in a plank position. Step your right foot forward in between your hands.

• Keeping your back flat and both arms straight, lift your right hand toward the ceiling, twisting your torso toward your right knee.

• Hold for a second, then return your right hand to the floor.

• Switch sides, and repeat the sequence

 

Why Hip Mobility Is Important

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

Know anyone with lower back pain?

Oh, that’s right — the overwhelming majority of Americans have lower back pain.

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. More range of motion allows your body to move with better efficiently (more in the ways it was designed to move).

 

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 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.

Hamstrings

This muscle group 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.

Adductors

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

Glutes

The butt muscles work along with the hamstrings to extend and straighten your hips. These muscles also abduct your legs.

 

The Main Types of Stretching and When to Use Them

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

1. Dynamic stretching

These are large, full-range movements of one or more joints at once, often performed standing and sometimes while walking or jogging.

Dynamic stretches resemble old-school movements done in calisthenics or gym class. These moves include: arm circles, leg swings, side to side adductor stretch.

For dynamic stretches, which work best as a warm-up activity before a workout. Dynamic stretches are great anytime a day for a pick-me-up boost, too.

2. Static stretching

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

You’ll often perform static stretches seated or lying down. Focus on breathing slowly and deeply to facilitate relaxation—sometimes for several minutes at a time.

Static stretches may loosen you up, but they also inhibit performance in the stretched muscles for a short time afterward. So they’re best reserved for after a workout, or as an anytime stress reliever — just not right before a workout involving the muscles you’re stretching.

Andrew Heffernan CSCS, GCFP

About

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

Try Openfit for FREE Today!

Get Started
shares