Tight hip flexors can cause pain and performance issues. The hip flexors are a group of muscles that include the iliopsoas, as well as the rectus femoris. They work to bring the legs and body together, which helps you complete your ab exercises, lifting your knees and bringing your thighs toward your stomach.
Two main issues people develop tight hip flexors are improper form on abdominal exercises, and sitting for extended periods of time.
It’s important to keep your hip flexors loose and limber. Tight hips increase your risk for injury because there is an increased demand on body tissue that don’t move properly. Many common lower back problems often stem from tight hips.
Signs You May Have Tight Hip Flexors
Tight hips are common in people who spend several hours a day sitting, average gym goers, and even professional athletes. There are movements and stretches you can perform if you are feeling tightness in your hip area.
Here are some signs to look for:
- Pain of discomfort in the front of your hip that gets worse with prolonged sitting
- Pain in your glutes while standing or walking
- Tightness and pain in your neck
- Difficulty standing up straight and poor posture
- Tightness or aches in your lower back, especially while standing
Along with releasing your hips and decreasing any pain you may feel, these stretches will help encourage a wider range of motion and create an overall healthier hip.
9 Great Stretches for Tight Hip Flexors
Below are 9 stretches that can help improve mobility and relieve pain caused by tight hips.
- Standing Hip Stretch
- Seated Hip Stretch
- Supine Hip Stretch
- Kneeling Stretch
- Foam Roller Stretch
- Spinal Twist
- The Standing Frog
- The Butterfly
- The Pigeon
Relieving tightness in your hips takes time and consistent stretching — you can’t expect to do these stretches twice and your problems are fixed.
Remember… healthy body, healthy mind. Take this time to clear your head and meditate as you take care of your body.
#1 – Standing Hip Stretch
Standing stretches are a basic yet effective way to unwind your hips and prevent injury.
- To complete the stretch, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Make sure your toes are facing forward.
- Next, bend your right knee, raising your right heel up toward your glutes. Take your right foot in your right hand, gently pulling it until your knee is pointed toward the floor.
- Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on your left leg.
- Complete the actions two to three times on each side. If you’re having trouble balancing, hold onto a chair, counter or table.
- These stretches are easy enough to complete anywhere, including the gym, at home or the office.
- Alternate each side and perform the stretch for each side three times.
#2 – Seated Stretch
To complete seated hip stretches, sit diagonally on the edge of a bench or chair. Straighten your back, put both feet on the floor and keep your knees bent.
- Slide your right foot back and lower your knee to the point just before it reaches the ground. Make sure your right leg is bent at a 90-degree angle, so your knee is directly below your right hip.
- Take care to keep your feet on the floor. Once you’re in this position, tighten your glutes and hold them this way for 30 seconds.
- Do the same thing on the left side.
- Do the exercise on each side three times.
#3 – Supine Stretch
When an athlete is supine, they are lying on their back and facing upward. To do this hip flexor stretch, you will lie on the floor with your legs straight and your toes pointing toward the ceiling.
- While keeping your right leg straight on the ground, bend your left knee so your foot sits flat. Interlace your fingers behind your left knee, inhale and pull your knee toward your chest.
- As you do this, be sure to keep your hips, back and right leg secured to the floor.
- Exhale and pull your left knee even closer. Hold the position for 30 seconds and then do the same thing on your right side.
- For best results, stretch both the left and ride sides three to five times.
#4 – Kneeling Stretch
Now that you’ve loosened your hips in a range of positions, it’s time to kneel.
- Place your left knee on the floor and your right leg at a 90-degree angle in front of your body. Place your hands on your right knee. Keep your back as straight as possible.
- As your left knee stays pressed on the ground, gently lean your body forward into your right hip. Squeeze the muscles in your left buttocks for 30 seconds.
- Repeat the same process on the other side.
- Do this stretch two to three times per leg.
#5 – Foam Roller Stretch
Using a foam roller helps get a deep massage into your stretches. Foam rollers can hurt, but it’s a good pain.
- Lie face down and place the foam roller beneath and slightly below your left hip.
- Place your right leg to the side and your forearms on the ground in front of you. You are basically doing a forearm plank on top of your foam roller.
- Keep your left leg straight and use your right leg to roll the foam roller in the tight area.
- Continue for 30 seconds and find any parts that are extra tight or more painful. Focusing on these areas will help the most.
- Repeat with your other side.
#6 – The Spinal Twist
This stretch will feel excellent in your hip flexors, back and quads. Begin by standing with your feet together.
- Take a step forward with your left foot to achieve a staggered stance. Bend your left knee into a lunge. Keep your right leg straight behind you with your toes on the ground.
- When you achieve the right position, you will feel a stretch in the front portion of your right thigh.
- Now, place your right hand on the floor and carefully twist your upper body to the left side. Extend your left arm toward the ceiling. Don’t forget to breathe.
- Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
- Complete this stretch on both the left and right sides a total of four times.
#7 – The Standing Frog
This stretch is effective and fun to do, but it’s important not to round your lower back. Focus on a tight core and a straight spine to protect your back muscles as much as possible.
- First, take a wide stance and point your toes outward.
- Squat until your thigh muscles are parallel with the floor.
- Place your hands on your knees to help stretch your hips and inner thighs.
- Keep your heels on the ground and distribute your weight evenly through the balls and heels of your feet.
#8 – The Butterfly
The butterfly is not only a classic stretch, but an excellent way to loosen the remainder of your hip area, cool down and relax your muscles.
- Sit on the floor and bring your feet in front of your body.
- Bend your knees out to the side. Sit up as straight as possible, keeping your core tight.
- Use gravity to push your knees to the ground while your hands stay on your feet or behind you.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds.
- Repeat two to three times for best results.
#9 – The Pigeon
A common yoga stretch, the pigeon is great to stretch hip flexors and the iliotibial band (IT Band) at the same time.
- Get onto your hands and knees into a plank position.
- Bring your left knee forward and playing it behind your left wrist.
- Place your left ankle in front of your left hip.
- Straighten your right leg behind you and make sure your knee is straight and toes pointed.
- Keep your hips square and slowly lower yourself to the ground.
- Hold this position for 20 seconds.
- To get out of this position, push with your hands, lift with your hips, and move your legs back to the starting plank position.
- Rinse and repeat for the other side.
Wrapping It Up
Your results will vary. You may be so tight that all of these stretches are hard for you to complete.
And that’s okay. Take your time and get a proper stretch daily.
This will improve your hip health, allow you to walk easier and they will relieve any pain in your hips.