10 Best Hip Flexor Stretches for Tight Hips

hip flexor stretch

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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. 

Thanks to anatomy, women are more prone to tightness in their hips because they’re inherently less stable than men’s hips. This makes the hips work harder and thus makes them more prone to overuse, says physical therapist Amy Hoover. 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.

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.

01 of 10

Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

person does 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 10

Standing Quad Stretch

person does standing quad stretch in forest

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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.

03 of 10

Cobra Press-Up

person does cobra stretch on yoga mat

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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 20 to 25 reps.
04 of 10

Chair Stretch

person does yoga chair pose stretch in studio

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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.
05 of 10

Bed Stretch

person does bed stretch knee to chest

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This simple stretch targets the thighs and groin. The best part? It can be done in the comfort of your bed. Make sure to keep the knee bent to support your back.

  • Lie down along the edge of your bed.
  • Pull the knee of your left leg in toward your chest, and let gravity lower the right leg off the bed.
  • Gently bend the knee to increase the stretch across the thigh and front of the hip. 
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and repeat three times on each leg.
06 of 10

Side-Lying Stretch

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.
07 of 10

Glute Bridge

person prepares to do glute bridge stretch

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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.
08 of 10

Bridge March

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. 
09 of 10

Yogi Squat

person does yogi yoga squat pose

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Channel your inner yogi, and squat down into less tense hip flexors. Don’t expect to practically touch your bum to your heels the first time you attempt this. Take it slow, and gradually lower yourself the more your hips begin to loosen up.

  • Squat down as low as you can with your hands pressed together in front of your chest.
  • Take your elbows and begin to push them against the inside of your legs to further stretch out your hips.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute, or as long as can be tolerated.
10 of 10

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

person does knee to chest stretch at hom

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All you need is a cushioned place to lie down for this stretch. Besides helping your hips, the knee-to-chest stretch can also help with lower-back pain.

  • Lie down flat on your back.
  • Bring one leg up with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle and the other leg lying flat on the ground.
  • Grab your elevated leg behind your thigh, and begin to pull it toward your chest.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and repeat three times on each leg.

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