Do you have a desk job, a car, or a couch? Congratulations! Your hips are probably in need of these 12 exercises.
These days, our daily lives simply don’t demand much range of motion, so most people are in exactly the same position as you – a tight one! Sitting can quickly lead to tight hip flexors and hamstrings, weak outer hips and glutes, and lower back pain. Activities like running and cycling can also lead to tight hips.
Imagine not being able to climb stairs, bend over, or even walk. That’s exactly what life would be like without our hip flexor muscles! Not much fun.
As we know, the entire body is connected, so if your hips are tight, you are more than likely going to notice it elsewhere in your body. You might have weak glutes, sciatica, lower back pain, knee pain and/or poor posture, to name a few.
This doesn’t sound good, does it? That’s why I’ve come up with this little hip stretching sequence. It will help loosen your hips, which means less pain and better performance in pretty much everything you do.
Something to remember when it comes to stretching, is that most of your progress will come as you train the muscles to deal with the stretched positions better. It takes as much practice as anything else does. As you learn to relax, your muscles will start to ease off from that natural tendency to remain tight.
For each stretch:
- Move gently in and out of the stretch a few times.
- Never force the body, simply increase gently as you exhale.
- Hold the stretched position for 10-30 seconds.
- Release slowly and carefully and do it again.
Aim to complete this routine 3-5 times per week.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
1. Supine Figure 4 (Thread the Needle) | 30 seconds per side
Lie on your back with both legs in the air. Place your right ankle on your thigh above your left knee. See the shape of the number four? It is there, just upside down. Or, can you see how reaching through might maybe sort of resemble threading a needle?
Try to release your pelvis into neutral, by reaching your tail bone toward the floor, creating a little arch in your low back. This should either emphasize the stretch in a different area or increase the stretch.
To increase the stretch, twist just the pelvis a bit to the left and the stretch should intensify. You can also use the same arm as leg that is crossed, and gently push the knee away until your arm is straight (as pictured in second image)
2. Supine Internal Rotation | 30 seconds per side
Lie on your back, bend your knees and place your feet on the ground. Cactus your arms so that your elbows are bent in line with your shoulders and your palms are facing upwards.
Cross your right ankle over your left thigh and flex both feet. Then, creep your left foot over to the left a few inches.
Slowly lower both knees to the right. Make sure that your left knee is in line with your left hip. Your right ankle should rest on your outer left thigh right above the knee. You should feel a stretch through the front of your left hip.
Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
3. Butterfly Stretch | 30 seconds
Begin in a seated position on the floor. Bend your knees to the sides, holding the soles of your feet together with your hands.
Remember to pull up through your back and lift your chin slightly to maintain good posture and get a beautiful stretch.
Gently draw your knees down towards your mat as you exhale.
4. Broken Bridge | 30 seconds
Lie down on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground.
Let your knees rest upon each other, then heel-toe your feet out as wide as you can go while your knees stay touching.
Rest your arms down alongside your body.
5. Low Lunge | 30 seconds per side
Start in a runner’s lunge with your right leg forward, knee over ankle and left knee on ground; make sure the top of your foot is flat on the mat behind you. Slowly lift torso and look forwards.
To deepen the stretch, rest hands lightly on right thigh. Lean hips forward slightly, keeping right knee behind toes, and feel the stretch in the left hip flexor.
Hold here, or for an even deeper stretch, raise arms overhead, biceps by ears as you straighten up tall.
Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side.
6. Runners Lunge | 30 seconds per side
Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Step your right foot up outside of your right hand. Then, heel-toe the right foot forward and slightly outward so that your right ankle is slightly in front of your knee. To deepen, point your toes out at a 45-degree angle. Lift your chest up and draw your navel in towards your spine to engage your abs. Keep the back of your neck long and straight.
Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
7. Side Lunge | 30 seconds per side
Begin in a wide-legged forward bend. Bend your left knee into a half-squat. Keep your right leg straight as you shift your weight to the side.
Keep your hands on the floor if you need them for balance. Drop your hands to the floor for support and shift to the other side.
8. Yogi Squat | 30 seconds
Begin on feet, crouched down with tailbone between ankles and hands in prayer at chest.
Continue to press hands firmly together while at the same time pressing elbows against inner thighs.
Hold and breathe for 30 seconds.
9. Frog | 30 seconds
If most inner-thigh openers feel quite easy (and your ankles and knees are not injured), try Frog Pose.
Begin on all fours, with palms on the floor and your knees on blankets or a mat.
Slowly widen your knees until you feel a comfortable stretch in your inner thighs, keeping the inside of each calf and foot in contact with the floor. Make sure to keep your ankles in line with your knees.
Lower down to your forearms. Gently press your body back towards your heels. Stay here for at least 30 seconds.
10. Half Pigeon | 30 seconds – 1 minute
Start in a runner’s lunge with right leg forward, right knee over right ankle and back leg straight.
Walk your right foot over towards your left hand and drop your right shin and thigh to the floor, making sure to keep your right knee is in line with your right hip.
Allow your left leg to rest on the floor with top of your left foot facing down. Take a moment to square your hips to the front.
Hold here, or tip forward and lower your chest toward floor, allowing your head to rest on your forearms. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side. You want to feel a moderate stretch in the outside of the right thigh, but if this pose causes pain in your knees or feels too uncomfortable, stick with Thread the Needle.
11. Reclined Cow Face Pose | 30 seconds per side
Lie on your back and cross your right knee over the left. Inhale, take hold of your ankles. Exhale, draw your feet towards the floor on either side of your waist.
Unwind, and set up for the left side.
It may take a while to stack your knees and drop your shoulder but keep practising!
12. Happy Baby | 30 seconds
Lie on your back. As you exhale, draw your knees into your belly.
Inhale and grip the outsides of your feet with your hands. If you have difficulty holding the feet directly with your hands, hold onto your ankles or shins.
Open your knees slightly wider than your torso, then draw them up toward your armpits.
Position each ankle directly over the knee, so your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Flex through the heels.
Gently push your feet up into your hands as you pull your hands down to create a resistance.