How to Stretch your Hips

Hip tightness and pain are familiar problems for many. Whether you train at the gym, are sat for long hours in front of desk, or are a regular runner, hip muscles are likely to be affected in one way or another. Personally, I’ve always been prone to stiff hips and pain in my hip joints. I put it down to a number of factors, primarily the fact that I suffer from meralgia paraesthetica – a pinched nerve in my groin area which causes numbness in my right outer thigh. It’s led me to frequently lean my weight on my left leg when standing for long periods, which in-turn has caused muscle imbalance.

Additionally, I exercise regularly: at the gym with weights, body-weight exercises at home, or cardio anywhere. I have found that by regularly performing certain stretches, my hip tightness is alleviated.

About the Hips and Hip Function

We rely heavily on our hips. The hip joint itself is a ball and socket joint. It allows for a wider range of muscular movements than most other joints in the body. The muscles responsible for moving the hip joint are some of the largest (adductor magnus and gluteus maximus) as well as some of the smallest (gemellus superior and inferior).

The hips are a central mechanism in the body. They act as a stabiliser for the pelvis, as well as move the legs. Therefore, problems with tightness and stiffness may radiate to other body parts, namely the lower back and knees. It is possible to reduce and even prevent many hip problems by improving strength and joint flexibility.

Hip Problems – Hip Stiffness, Tightness and Pain

Typical causes of hip pain and hip stiffness can range from running to sitting too much (while driving or at a desk), both of which constrict the muscles and as a result, shorten them. Moreover, emotional stress is said to be stored in the hips. When suppressing feelings of fear, anxiety and sadness, we tend to tighten our hips by tensing.

Hip Flexibility and Mobility

Tight hips can reduce range of motion, weaken your glutes and tilt your pelvis. The more limber your hips are, the more potential for overall body strength and athleticism. By stretching your hips you can help relieve movement restrictions and in turn, increase mobility and range of motion.

How to Stretch your Hips / Hip Stretches to Relieve Tightness

Here are some great hip stretches, focusing on the posterior, which you can perform to relieve discomfort, reduce tightness and increase mobility.

Seated Hip Adductor Stretch

Sit on the floor in the lotus position – knees bent, feet together with the soles touching.

Bring the heels of the feet as close as possible to the buttocks (distance depends on degree of flexibility).

Grasp the feet or just above the ankles with elbows spreading sideways and touching the legs just below the knees.

Bend the trunk over towards the feet and press the lower part of the thighs and knees down with the elbows while stretching.

*Adduction – movement of a body part towards the center of the body.

Targets inner thighs and glutes.

Seated Hip External Rotator and Hip Extensor Stretch

Sit on the floor with one leg extended straight out front.

Bend the knee of the other leg and place the flat foot against the inner thigh of the extended leg.

Place hands on the floor either side of the extended leg.

Bend the trunk over towards the straight knee as far as possible until you start feeling a slight stretch (light pain). Keep the other knee down on the floor, if possible, as you bend over.

As you bend over, reach out your arms towards the foot.

Repeat on other side.

Targets glutes, back of leg and back.


Lying Hip Extensor and Back Extensor Stretch

Lie on your back on a comfortable surface.

Bend one knee, grasping it with both hands and pulling it as far as possible towards the chest, while keeping the other leg flat.

Repeat on other side.

Targets glutes and back.

Lying Hip Extensor Rotator and Hip Extensor Stretch

Lie on your back on a comfortable surface.

Bend one leg so that the knee is raised up off the floor.

Cross the opposite angle just above the bent knee.

Grasp the leg just underneath with both hands and pull in towards the chest as far as possible, until you start feeling a slight stretch (light pain).

Repeat on other side.

Targets glutes and back.

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