7 Best Hip Flexor Stretches for Tight Hips

hip flexor stretch


Sitting for prolonged periods of time? If so, you’re not alone—and you’re likely experiencing tight hips as a result. “Your body tends to adapt to postures and movement patterns that you spend the most time in,” explains physical therapist Cameron Yuen. Additionally, certain workouts can also lead to tight-feeling hips. If you do a lot of core work, you might actually use your hip flexors more than your abdominal muscles, which can lead to tightness, Yuen says. 

Additional factors—including female pregnancy hormones, the physical changes that take place during pregnancy, and even wearing high heels—can also make women prone to tightness, Hoover says.

Read on for 10 expert-approved hip flexor stretches to ease pain and tightness with moves below, shot by Carmel Rodriguez of Openfit,

Meet the Expert

Safety and Precautions

Before we talk more about how to loosen up your hips, an important distinction needs to be made. “Complaints of ‘tightness’ or ‘pain’ in the hip flexors is something I commonly hear in the clinic, but before I ever prescribe hip flexor stretches, I always test to see if the muscle is lacking range of motion,” says Werber.

“Tight” muscles are usually in fact weak muscles that fatigue quickly, leading to muscle ache and that tight feeling, Werber explains. Since many of us deal with both tightness and weakness, be sure to both stretch and strengthen the hip flexors to prevent any long-term issues, Werber notes.

Women who are pregnant or those with back injuries should be wary of performing hip flexor stretches unless they’ve been given the OK from their doctors or are supervised by an expert, such as a physical therapist.

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Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

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Hoover says you should aim to do a stretch like this daily when your muscles are warm, like after a walk or a workout. The key to this stretch is to maintain a tall spine for proper alignment and to make sure the hips are not dumped forward (rather, they should be in line with the length of your spine).

  • Kneel into a lunge position, with your hips and knees bent at 90 degrees. Contract your glutes so that your pelvis tilts beneath you slightly. 
  • Push your hips forward, but don’t lean back into your spine. (You should feel a stretch in the front of the hip and down the thigh.)
  • Hold for 60 to 90 seconds, breathing slowly and relaxing into the stretch.
02 of 07

Standing Quad Stretch

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Quads feel tight? Do this stretch to provide some much-needed comfort. It’s especially helpful to perform before and during sports or exercises that use the quads (think: cycling, running uphill, or hiking). It’s also particularly helpful for those who sit for extended periods, or those suffering from back tenseness.

  • While standing, contract your glutes to keep your pelvis tilted slightly beneath you. Bend your knee, and use your hand to pull your ankle toward your glutes. 
  • Hold for 60 to 90 seconds, breathing slowly and relaxing into the stretch. 
  • Switch legs and repeat.

If you’re feeling off-balance, use a table, chair, or another sturdy object to hang onto with one hand while you stretch with the other.

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Cobra Press-Up

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It may look familiar if you’re a yogi, but this move is especially great for strengthening the back, shoulders, arms, chest, and abs. It’s also very therapeutic, and some claim it helps with digestive issues like constipation.

  • Lie on your stomach with your elbows bent and your hands by your shoulders. 
  • Contract your glutes, and push your hips toward the ground as you press into the ground with your hands, lifting your chest and abdomen off the floor. Extend through your hips and entire spine, not just your lower back. 
  • Do three sets of 5 reps.
04 of 07

Chair Stretch

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Hey ladies, this one’s for you! As we mentioned earlier, changes during pregnancy and even wearing high heels can cause women to have an anterior pelvic tilt or an increased curve in their lumbar spine. “Since part of the hip flexor muscles (the psoas) attach to the lumbar spine, this increased curve can contribute to shortening in the hip flexors,” Hoover says.

What Is the Psoas?

The psoas is the strongest muscle in the hip flexors located between the vertebral column and the brim of the lesser pelvis. It helps pull the thigh and the torso toward each other.

  • Put your right leg through the back of a chair, and set your right foot on the floor so your leg is at a 90-degree angle.
  • Stretch your left leg out behind you while maintaining a straight back.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and repeat three times on each leg.
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Side-Lying Stretch

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This is similar to the quad stretch, except you’re lying down. If you have knee issues, this is the move for you.

  • Lie on one side, and grab the ankle of the top leg behind you.
  • Bend the knee and extend the hip, feeling the stretch in the front of the hip and thigh.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and repeat three times on each leg.
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Glute Bridge

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This exercise not only stretches your hip flexors but also helps strengthen your glutes, which can become weak due to tight hip flexors, according to Werber.

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Press into the ground with your heels, lifting your hips until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line. 
  • Be careful not to hyperextend your lower back at the top. 
  • Do three sets of 20 to 25 reps.
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Bridge March

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Similar to the above move, this glutes exercise has the same benefits as a squat (and is perfect for those who have knee or hip issues and can’t perform squats). It targets the hamstrings, abs, and lower back.

  • Place an exercise band (if you have one) around your feet, and get into a bridge position, as described above. Engage your core, and activate your glutes. 
  • Now, alternate marching with your legs while keeping your hips parallel to the floor. 
  • Do three sets of 10 to 15 reps on each side. 
Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Dehghan F, Haerian BS, Muniandy S, Yusof A, Dragoo JL, Salleh N. The effect of relaxin on the musculoskeletal system. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014;24(4):e220-e229.

  2. Fu K, Metcalf BR, Bennell KL, et al. Is heel height associated with pain exacerbations in hip osteoarthritis patients? —results from a case-crossover study. J Clin Med. 2020;9(6):1872.

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