8 of the Best Stretches for Your Hip Flexors

Updated 11/04/19

 Stocksy

Wake up, work at a desk, walk around or maybe fit in a workout, then sit again all evening. Sound familiar? If so, you’re definitely not alone—and you’re likely experiencing tight hips as a result. The reason: Sitting for prolonged periods, without taking breaks to stretch or move, will almost certainly lead to a feeling of tightness in the front of the hip.

“Your body tends to adapt to postures and movement patterns that you spend the most time in,” explains physical therapist Cameron Yuen. 

Meet the Expert

Cameron Yuen, PT, DPT, CSCS is a physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments in NYC.

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. 

What’s more: We lucky ladies are more prone to tightness in our hips than men. Because of anatomical differences in women’s hips, ours are inherently less stable than men’s hips. This makes our hips work harder and more prone to overuse, says physical therapist Amy Hoover. 

Meet the Expert

Amy Hoover, DPT is a physical therapist with workout studio P.volve

Plus, other factors including female pregnancy hormones, growing abdomens during pregnancy, and even wearing high heels (!) can also cause women to have an anterior pelvic tilt, or an increased curve in your lumbar spine, Hoover says. “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.”

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.

A Caveat

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 actually lacking range of motion,” says physical therapist Laura Werber.

Meet the Expert

Laura Werber, PT, DPT is a physical therapist at Gloria Drummond Physical Rehabilitation Institute in Florida.

Evidence suggests that “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 longterm issues, Werber notes.

Below are eight expert-approved moves that you can do at home to give your hips some TLC—all you need is a mat, chair, and bed. Aim to stretch daily when your muscles are warm, like after a walk or a workout, Hoover says.

01 of 08

Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Instructions:

  1. Kneel down into a lunge position with your hips and knees bent at 90 degrees. Contract your glutes so that your pelvis tilts beneath you slightly. 
  2. Push your hips forward, but don't lean backwards into your spine. (You should feel a stretch in the front of the hip and down the thigh.)
  3. Hold 60 to 90 seconds breathing slowly and relaxing into the stretch.
02 of 08

Standing Quad Stretch

  1. While standing, contract your glutes slightly to keep your pelvis tilted slightly beneath you. Bend your knee and use your hand to pull your ankle towards your glutes. 
  2. Hold 60 to 90 seconds breathing slowly and relaxing into the stretch. 
  3. Switch legs and repeat.
03 of 08

Cobra Press-Up

  1. Lie on your stomach with elbows bent and hands by your shoulders. 
  2. Contract your glutes and push your hips towards 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 low back. 
  3. Do 20 to 25 reps.
04 of 08

Chair Stretch

  1. While standing, place one foot up on a chair and lunge forward, keeping a very slight bend in the knee of the standing leg. You should feel the stretch in the front of the standing leg. 
  2. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times on each leg.
05 of 08

Bed Stretch

  1. Lie down along the edge of your bed, letting the leg closest to the side hang off. Pull the other knee into your chest and let gravity lower the leg off the bed. 
  2. Gently bend the knee to increase the stretch across the thigh and front of the hip. 
  3. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and repeat three times on each leg.
06 of 08

Side-lying Stretch

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

These final two exercises not only stretch your hip flexors, but also help strengthen your glutes, which can become weak due to tight hip flexors, Werber notes.

07 of 08

Glute Bridge

  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Press into the ground with your heels, lifting your hips up until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line. 
  2. Be careful not to hyperextend your low back at the top. 
  3. Do 20 to 25 reps for 3 sets.
08 of 08

Bridge March

  1. 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. 
  2. Now alternate marching with your legs while keeping your hips parallel to the floor. 
  3. Do 10 to 15 reps on each side for 3 sets. 

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