7 Hip Stretches for Better Health

Tamsen Butler
Hip stretch with the help of physical therapist

Unless you stretch your hips regularly, you may lose some mobility or even experience discomfort or pain. Try some stretches to keep your hip muscles supple and pain-free.

Hip Flexor Stretches

Hip flexor muscles have a tendency to get tight, especially when a person spends the majority of the day in a seated position. The right stretches can help lengthen the muscles and prevent injury. It's best to warm up the muscles before stretching; riding a stationary bike, a short walk, or even marching in place are all good options for pre-stretch warm-ups.

Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

The hip flexors include your iliopsoas and tensor fasciae latae muscles. The standing hip flexor stretch targets the first of these two muscles. To do this stretch, you will need either a stool or exercise step.

  1. Step back from your support about a stride length back.
  2. Step your left foot onto your support and lunge forward.
  3. Make sure and straighten your back leg as you hold the stretch for a moment or two.
  4. Switch legs.
Woman doing standing hip flexor stretches on step aerobics equipment at gym

Seated Hip Flexor Stretch

Because these muscles are so deep, it can be difficult to isolate them. To target the tensor fasciae latae muscle, perform this exercise:

  1. Sit on your exercise mat with your right leg extended.
  2. Bend your left leg and place your left foot on the outside of your right knee.
  3. Twist your body to the left until you feel a stretch.
  4. Repeat on the other side.
People stretching their hips in exercise class

Hydrants for Frozen Hips

Your physical therapist may prescribe this stretch for you if you suffer from "frozen hip," or stiffness and a lack of mobility.

  1. Go it an "all-fours" position on the mat with your hands and knees.
  2. Keeping your right knee bent and your back straight, lift the knee up to hip height. You should resemble a dog using a hydrant to relieve itself.
  3. Hold for one of two counts before slowly releasing back down to all-fours.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Stability Ball Stretches

Contary to its name, a stability ball reduces the amount of stability in a stretch or exercise. This compels your body to stabilize itself, making your muscles stronger.

Seated Stretch for Hips

A stability ball gives you several options for hip stretches. A simple seated stretch will work the deep muscles of your hip joints and may be able to provide some hip pain relief (check with your physical therapist to ask if this stretch is appropriate for pain relief for you).

  1. Sit on the ball.
  2. Place your left ankle on your right knee.
  3. Gently push down on both your left ankle and left knee. You should feel a pleasant stretch at your hips.
  4. Repeat the stretch with your other leg.
Seated hip flexor stretch

Tension-Easing Hip Stretch

To relieve muscle tension in your hips, stay seated on your exercise ball with both feet on the floor.

  1. Place your arms out to each side.
  2. Circle your hips clockwise a few times.
  3. Repeat the motion going counterclockwise.

This gentle stretch will help release any lingering tension in your hips, especially helpful for a way to wind down at the end of the day.

Woman doing hip stretch exercises on a fitness ball at gym

Yoga Stretches for the Hips

Yoga provides stretches that increase stability, balance, and strength.

Resting Pigeon

There are several yoga poses of varying difficulty which can also help improve the flexibility of your hip joints. One of these is resting pigeon. You can use a yoga strap or yoga brick to help you ease into this hip stretch until your flexibility increases.

  1. Sit on your mat with one leg extended behind you.
  2. Bend your front leg to 90 degrees and walk your foot to the inside edge of your mat.
  3. Inhale as you lay your knee down flat at the opposite edge of the mat.
  4. Rest over your bent leg.
  5. Hold for a few minutes and repeat on the other side.
Woman practicing yoga in pigeon pose

Extended Triangle

With extended triangle pose, you can use a yoga block as an aid, depending upon your flexibility. This move helps stretch the outer muscles of the hips.

  1. Stand on your exercise mat.
  2. Move your legs apart about three feet.
  3. Point your right foot in front of you and your left to the side at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Extend your arms out to each side and face forward.
  5. Bend from the hip, tilting your body to the left. Use your left leg for support.
  6. Extend your right arm into the air and reach for the ground with your left.
  7. Turn your head to the right, looking at your extended arm.
  8. Hold the pose briefly and release. Repeat the stretch with your other leg.
Exercise class practicing extended triangle pose

Stretch Daily

Hip stretches are a necessary part of your exercise regimen. Bear in mind that it takes time to increase your range of motion. Daily stretches will help relieve stress and reduce your risk from injury even during day-to-day activities. Flexibility, after all, is essential for most activities.

7 Hip Stretches for Better Health