Obesity / Weight Loss / Fitness

Stretches for tight hips: Tips and how to do them

Targeted exercises and stretches can alleviate tight hips, a problem that occurs when tension builds up in the hip flexors and other muscles around the hips.

Tight hips can arise from inactivity and prolonged periods of sitting. The Arthritis Foundation advise that exercise is one of the best things that a person can do to keep their hips functional and free of pain.

Exercises that focus on the hips help by:

  • maintaining the range of motion of the hips
  • strengthening the surrounding muscles
  • alleviating pain
  • minimizing the risk of hip damage
  • reducing the need for hip surgery in people with hip osteoarthritis

In this article, learn which stretches are best for alleviating hip tightness and how to do them. We also provide additional tips, such as how to use a foam roller.

10 hip stretches and how to do them

The following exercises will stretch and strengthen the muscles around the hips, helping alleviate tightness and protect against injury.

People should speak to a doctor before beginning any new exercise program. Starting slowly and gradually increasing the number, length, and intensity of the exercises can help prevent injuries.

Here are some other tips for effective stretching:

  • Take a warm bath or shower before exercising to loosen the muscles.
  • Never stretch to the point of pain.
  • Breathe naturally when holding stretches, and do not hold the breath in.

1. Chair stand

chair stand exercise and stretch gif.
  • Rest the back of a chair against a wall.
  • Sit on the edge of the seat, with the feet flat on the floor and the knees bent.
  • Cross the arms, placing each hand on the opposite shoulder. Lean back into the chair.
  • Lean forward and, with a straight back and shoulders, slowly move into a standing position.
  • Slowly sit down again.
  • Repeat up to 10 times.

2. Knee lift

Knee lift exercise and stretching gif.
  1. Lie on the back on the floor or a mat with both legs extended.
  2. Move the left knee up to the chest. Use both hands to pull the knee gently closer to the chest.
  3. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds before returning to the starting position.
  4. Repeat with the other leg.
  5. Perform this exercise 10 times on each leg.

3. Internal hip rotator stretch

Internal hip rotator stretch and exercise gif
  1. Sit with the back against the back of a chair.
  2. Lift the right leg and place the right ankle on the left thigh with the right knee pointing out to the side.
  3. Gently press down on the right thigh with one hand until you feel resistance.
  4. Lean forward slightly at the hips, keeping the back straight. Slowly breathe out while doing this.
  5. Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.

4. External hip rotator stretch

External hip rotator stretch and exercise gif.
  1. Sit up on a yoga mat with a straight back and the legs extended.
  2. Bend the left leg and cross it over the right leg so that the left ankle is resting beside the right knee.
  3. Use the right arm to push the left knee toward the right shoulder until you feel resistance. Slowly breathe out. Never push until the point of pain.
  4. Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.

5. Double hip rotation

Double hip rotation stretch and exercise gif
  1. Lie flat on the back on the floor or a mat and bend the knees. Extend the arms away from the body.
  2. Keeping the knees together, lower them to the floor on the left side. Try to keep the thighs perpendicular to the body.
  3. Turn the head to the right side. Make sure that both shoulders stay firmly against the floor or mat.
  4. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.
  5. Slowly lift the knees and return the head to the starting position.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.

6. Hip flexor and quadriceps stretch

Hip flexor and quadriceps stretch and exercise gif.
  1. Stand facing a wall with the feet hip-width apart. Place the hands on the wall for balance.
  2. Take a step back with the right foot, keeping the knee bent.
  3. Slightly bend the left knee, ensuring that it does not move past the toes.
  4. Squeeze the buttocks muscles and keep them under the hips. You should notice a gentle pulling sensation in the front of the right hip and thigh.
  5. Maintain this position for up to 60 seconds.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.

7. Hip extension

Hip extension exercise and stretch gif.
  1. Stand facing a wall with the feet hip-width apart. Place the hands on the wall for balance.
  2. Tighten the stomach muscles and keep the back straight.
  3. Slowly extend the left leg behind the body. Extend the leg back as far as possible without letting the lower back arch. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat 10 times.
  5. Perform the exercise on the other side.

8. Hip abduction

Hip abduction stretch and exercise gif.
  1. Stand facing a wall with the feet together. Place the hands on either the wall or the hips for balance.
  2. Raise the left leg out to the side as high as possible without rotating the hips. Hold for 5 seconds.
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat 10 times.
  4. Do the exercise on the other side.

9. Bridge

bridge stretch and exercise gif for hip pain
  1. Lie on the back on a floor or mat. Bend the knees and keep the arms by the sides. Place the palms on the floor.
  2. Gently raise the pelvis and lower back off the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position, lowering the top of the spine first and working down to the buttocks.
  4. Repeat up to 10 times.

10. Hip and back stretch

Hip and back stretch exercise and gif.
  1. Lie flat on the back on the floor or a mat. Bend the knees.
  2. Using both hands, pull the knees into the chest.
  3. With each breath out, bring the knees slightly closer to the shoulders. Do not go farther than is comfortable.
  4. Once the knees are as close as possible to the shoulders, hold this position for 30 seconds.

Other home remedies for tight hips

In addition to exercises and stretches, the following practices may help loosen tight hips:

Foam roller

Woman using foam roller for stretching and muscle tension.

A foam roller is a useful tool for relaxing tight muscles. These rollers are available in sporting goods stores and online.

To use a foam roller for tight hips:

  1. Lie face down on a mat with the roller under the body, slightly below the left hip.
  2. Place the forearms on the floor to keep weight off the hip.
  3. Move the right leg sideways, bending the knee at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Keep the left leg extended behind the body with the toes on the floor for support.
  5. Roll the left hip over the foam roller and back.
  6. Continue to perform this movement for 30 seconds.
  7. Repeat several times a day on both sides.

Massage

People can try massaging the hips to loosen tight muscles. Massage also helps break down scar tissue, improve circulation, and reduce muscle pain.

Use massage oil or a natural lubricant, such as coconut or almond oil, to aid smooth movement across the skin. Both coconut oil and almond oil are available for purchase online.

Heat

Applying a heat pack or hot water bottle to the hip can reduce muscle tension. Use this treatment several times a day if necessary.

Never apply heat to a recent injury, as it can make inflammation worse. As a general rule, use ice in the first 72 hours following an injury to reduce swelling and inflammation.

Heat packs and wraps for sore muscles are available in drugs stores and online.

Movement

Tight hips can result from a sedentary lifestyle, as the hip flexors are in a shortened position when sitting.

Also, research suggests that inactivity can cause inflammation in the body, which is especially problematic for people with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, a well-known cause of hip pain.

To combat this and to warm up stiff muscles, people should move around frequently.

As a minimum, aim to get up and move around for a few minutes every hour.

A quality mattress

A good quality, comfortable mattress may help prevent or alleviate hip pain. Foam or latex mattresses may be especially helpful for those with hip problems, as they provide extra support and cushioning.

Summary

Specific stretches and exercises are among the most effective ways to alleviate tightness and pain in the hips.

Regular exercise can increase mobility and reduce the risk of hip injuries.

Other home treatments, such as heating pads and foam rollers, may also be effective in easing hip tightness.

However, anyone with severe or persistent hip pain should see a doctor to diagnose the underlying cause and get appropriate treatment.

It is important to avoid continuing any activity that contributes to hip pain. If necessary, seek guidance and help from a physical therapist or personal trainer.

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