What is an effective stretch for tight hips?

In general, tight hips tend to be tight in the front (hip flexor/ illiopsoas). This can be due to sitting for long periods or activities that require hip flexion.  In this case a lunge stretch with an arm reach (on the side of the back leg) will stretch this well.  Always remember to feel a gentle stretch, which may cause possible discomfort, but it should never be painful.  Also, many athletes (such as runners and cyclists) have a tendency to work only in one plane of motion.  This may tend to lead to tight IT bands or lateral structures.  In this case, in standing, cross one leg in front of the other and bend forward at the waist.  You can also lie on your back with knees bent, cross one ankle over the opposite knee and hug said knee to chest. Tight hips can result from several different issues, but these stretches should be beneficial.
There are many effective stretches for tight hips- which one is most effective for you depends on where you are feeling tight. Two great stretches for the hips that can be effective at reducing tightness for the majority of the population are the kneeling front of hip stretch and the inner thigh stretch. Due to the fact that most people spend prolonged amounts of time sitting, the hip muscles that flex your hips usually become very tight. This results in a decreased ability for the butt muscles to work effectively. When the butt muscles cannot work effectively, the body adapts by forcing other muscles to pick up the slack. One of the muscles that gets forced to work harder is an inner thigh muscle called the adductor magnus. The adductor magnus is a large muscle on the back and inside of the upper thigh. Not only can it cause hip tightness, but it can also cause lower back pain. If these two stretches do not offer some relief, then it is wise to seek out the assistance of a certified fitness professional to assess your movement which will help determine what other muscles may be contributing to your hip tightness. Perform the kneeling hip flexor stretch by following the technique described below. Kneel on one leg and position the opposite leg in front with the knee bent to a 90-degree angle. Next, squeeze your butt muscles and shift your body forward until a stretch is felt on the front of the pelvis. Hold  the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side. Perform the inner thigh stretch using the steps below. Standing to the side of a bench, place the same side foot up onto the bench with the other foot remaining on the floor and pointed straight ahead. Slightly bend the knee of the supporting leg and slowly bend the torso forward. Reach both hands down toward the floor until a stretch is felt in the upper, inner thigh of the leg that is up on the bench. Hold for 30 seconds, switch sides and repeat.

There are a number of great stretches for your hips. Here are a few of my favorite.

Iliotibial band (ITB) stretch

The iliotibial band (ITB) is a band of tissue that runs along the outside of your hip, thigh and knee. To stretch your ITB:

  • Stand near a wall or a piece of sturdy exercise equipment for support.
  • Cross your left leg over your right leg at the ankle.
  • Extend your left arm overhead, reaching toward your right side. You'll feel a stretch along your left hip.
  • Hold for about 30 seconds.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Knee-to-chest stretch

The knee-to-chest stretch focuses on the muscles of your lower back. Don't do this stretch if you have osteoporosis because it may increase the risk of compression fractures in your vertebrae.

To do this stretch:

  • Lie on your back on a firm surface with the backs of your heels flat on the floor.
  • Gently pull one knee up to your chest until you feel a stretch in your lower back.
  • Bring the knee as close to your chest as comfortably possible.
  • Keep the opposite leg relaxed in a comfortable position, either with your knee bent or with your leg extended.
  • Hold for about 30 seconds.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

Gluteal Stretch 

Lying on your back, using your hands, take your knee towards your opposite shoulder until you feel a stretch in the buttocks or front of your hip (Figure 5). Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times at a mild to moderate stretch pain-free.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.