Tight hips can not only be painful and uncomfortable, but they can put a damper on your workouts. Thankfully, there are exercises and stretching routines that can drastically reduce stiffness in your hip flexors.
We need our hips for almost all forms of every day movements. Indeed, our mobility is hugely dependent on the condition of our hips, whether we’re walking, climbing stairs, or bending down to pick up groceries.
Sitting all day, like most of us do, lessens the natural strength of the hips. We may not think much of our hips when we’re young, but good hip health becomes essential to our mobility and general wellbeing as we age.
Like most other stretching exercises, the key to doing these correctly is to be patient and gentle, aiming to increase the depth, amount of time and number of reps for each stretch that you are able to tolerate. If your muscles are naturally tight, pay extra attention to relaxing and breathing as you perform the stretches.
1. Hip Rotations
Start off your exercise routine with prone hip rotations.
- Sitting on the floor or mat with your right leg out straight, place your left ankle over your right leg. Your ankle should be next to your knee.
- Using your left arm for balance by placing your left hand on the floor behind you.
- Use your upper-right arm to slowly and gently push your left knee further towards the right
- You should feel the stretch in your hip, as well as in your spine
- Switch legs and repeat the routine.
2. Butterfly Stretch
- Sit on the floor in a classic yoga stretch with both knees spread out as wide as possible and both feet touching.
- Ensure you keep your spine straight; you can provide much needed support for your torso by placing your hands on the ground behind you.
- Move the knees in a flapping motion until you feel the muscles and joints loosening.
- Do the dynamic motion for about eight movements then hold the position at the tightest point of the stretch.
- Use your hands or elbows to push down on your thighs for 30 seconds.
3. Kneeling Lunge Stretch
This position starts in something similar to a classic walking lunge with your front leg forming a right angle to the trunk and your body square.
- Keep your back straight, and use one arm to pull your back ankle as far up toward your back as possible.
- You should feel a great stretch but if you don’t, adjust the positioning of your front leg until you do.
4. Prone Hip Internal Rotations
This stretch will improve circulation all through the pelvic region and loosen your hips for more rigorous stretches.
- Start out lying on your stomach and bend one knee so your shin is pointing up toward the ceiling.
- From this position, while keeping your pelvis flat on the ground, rotate your thigh so that your foot swings out away from your body towards the floor.
- Hold this position for two seconds, then return to the starting position.
- Repeat the motion for about 10 repetitions on each side.
This pose will get the blood flowing along the hips and pelvic region. Take your time with this it can be particularly hard on beginners. Concentrate on slowly getting comfortable with the stretch.
- Start on a mat. Fold your left leg on the ground beneath your hip (just as you would do in the classic yoga pose) and at the same time stretch out the right leg behind you.
- Rock back and forth in a slow deliberate manner to produce a good stretch. The further you lean, the deeper the stretch on this one.
- Repeat the routine on the other side.
6. The Frog
This exercise is simple but effective. It does have a high injury risk if the motion is forced, so be sure to take things slowly.
- Start on your hands and knees and slowly spread your knees as wide as possible.
- Your knees should be as close to 90 degrees from your torso. Lean into it gradually and slowly.
- With your body leaning forward and resting on your hands, slowly rock back and forth to deepen the effects of the stretch.