Like low back pain, hip pain is fairly common, affecting 10% of adults in the general population, increasing with age. While hip surgery and joint replacement are possible to treat the most severe cases of hip pain, physical therapy is an easy way to get relief.
As a sports medicine doctor, I’ve seen many people suffering from tightness in their hips. That’s why I’ve put together these 8 simple stretches you can do in the comfort of your own home.
What Causes Tight Hips?
Leading a sedentary lifestyle is a primary cause of tight hip flexors and hip pain. Excessive sitting leads to muscle deactivation and relaxation which can lead to a limited range of motion in the hip joints. Over time, the muscles shorten and become weaker. Sometimes, this causes a condition known as adaptive shortening.
Other contributors to hip tightness include:
- Prolonged periods of sitting
- Poor posture
- Pelvic tilt
- Knee and back pain
- Lack of exercise
If you’re one of the millions experiencing hip tightness, it might be worth increasing physical activity with an exercise program to lengthen and strengthen those muscles to loosen them up.
Stretches to Loosen Up Tight Hips
- Lie on the floor and bring your knees up like you’re about to do a sit-up.
- Gently move your knees to one side, stopping when you feel the hips start to come up off the floor. Keep your belly button facing up.
- Bring your knees back to center. Move them in the other direction.
- Repeat 25 to 30 times.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
This stretch is easy to add to your daily routine to prevent tight muscles.
- Kneel on your left knee, and place your right foot flat on the floor in front of you, with your knee bent.
- Lean forward slightly, and gently press your left hip toward the ground.
- Squeeze your buttocks muscles to get a deeper stretch, feeling it in your left hip flexor.
- Maintain the stretch for up to two minutes.
- Switch legs and repeat up to five times on each side.
The pigeon stretch, a common yoga pose, is a good option to stretch your hip flexor muscles daily to increase hip flexibility and mobility.
- Start on your hands and knees and feet hip-width apart.
- Bring your right knee forward, putting it behind your right wrist.
- Put your right ankle in front of your left hip.
- Straighten your left leg behind you, keeping your knee straight and toes pointed.
- While keeping your hips square, lower your body to the ground, and stay in this position for up to 10 seconds.
- To release the position, push up on your hands, lift your hips, and move your legs back to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side.
Hip Flexor Stretch Rotation
- Bend one knee and kneel on your left leg.
- Put your right foot in front of you.
- Lean forward slightly, stretching your left hip toward the floor.
- Squeeze your buttocks to feel a gentle stretch your hip flexors.
- Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds, but up to two minutes.
- Switch sides and repeat.
Foam Roller Hip Stretch
- Lay on your side and place the foam roller underneath you.
- Use your hands to support yourself and shift your weight around, so the affected area is resting on the foam roller.
- Gently roll up and down your hip and leg to your knee, so the foam roller works out the hips and glutes.
- Turn to the other side and repeat.
Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch
Most of us associate lunges with strengthening the legs and gluteal muscles, but they can also work wonders for your hip flexors. When done correctly, you’ll feel the standing lunge stretch in your inner thighs, hips, and groin. This stretch is similar to the kneeling hip flexor stretch above but won’t provide as deep of a stretch.
- Stand up straight and keep your arms down by your side.
- Place hands on your hips.
- Take a step forward with your right foot.
- Lower your right knee, keeping it bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep the left leg extended straight behind you.
- Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat with the left foot forward and the right leg back.
Supine IT Band Stretch
- Lie flat on your back and bend your knees. Keep your shoulder blades on the floor.
- Lift your left leg over your right knee and hook the ankle around the knee.
- Use your left leg to pull your right leg down to the left.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds.
- Switch sides. Repeat five times on each side.
Belt strap IT Band Stretch
- Lie flat on your back, keeping your upper body on the floor.
- Loop a strap or belt around your right foot.
- Lift your right leg straight up and bring it across your body to the left. Keep your hips flat.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
- Switch sides and repeat five times.
You should feel this stretch across your outer right thigh.
Use These Hip Stretches at Home
While learning how to stretch your hip can help reduce and alleviate pain, these stretches should never be painful. If your experience is more than slight discomfort, speak to your doctor or physical therapist to ensure there’s nothing more serious going on.