My hips feel very tight when I work out, what can I do before I work out?

Wendy Batts

Because many of us sit for long periods of time throughout the day, our hip flexors (the muscles that bring the knees closer to your chest) become overactive and tight. So, many of us have the sensation of tight hips especially as we work out. There are two flexibility techniques that you can do to help.

1. Self myofascial release (SMR), which you usually see people doing with a firm foam roller, is a great way to decrease the tension in the hips, thereby increasing their mobility. Start with rolling the side of the hips. Lie on your side and place the roller under your hip. Roll along the side of the thigh between the knee and the hip until you find a knot (you’ll know when you get one) and wait until the knot “melts” or releases (about 20-30 seconds). Also when you are at the hip you can rotate your body so your belly button points to the floor. Once there, roll the small area that a pocket would lay along your pants. Do the same thing, find a tender spot and stay on it until the intensity releases.

2. A hip flexor static stretch…

a. take one step forward
b. point the back foot’s toes at the forward foot’s heel (i.e. point it inward)
c. squeeze your butt so that your low back flattens and rounds a bit (pretending  you are a scared dog with its tail between its legs helps and just plain feels silly to boot)
d. keep the abs tight and bend the forward knee until you feel a stretch at the front of the hip on the same side as the back foot
e. hold this position for 20-30 seconds and remember to breathe!

Once you’ve done those things, spend a little time doing some general warm-up with some cardio of your preference at low intensity for 5-10 minutes. Then proceed with your workout and enjoy! Remember, if you experience pain of any kind, it’s always a good idea to check with your physician first before trying to work with corrective flexibility on your own.

You can do self-myofacial release with a foam roller before and after a workout.  The foam roller not only stretches muscles and tendons but it will break down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue.  Your own body weight on the foam roller can perform a self-massage, break up trigger points, and soothe tight fascia while increasing blood flow and circulation to the soft tissues.  

Brian Yee
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
I would lay on a foam roll on the side/back of your hip - along the muscles. The gluteal muscles can very commonly become restricted and can easily lead to injury in the low back and/or knees. A hip flexor stretch can also help.

A qualified Physical Therapist can usually determine why your hips are stiff, possibly due to: muscle/fascial restrictions, hip joint restrictions, nerve tension.
Dr. Mike Clark, DPT

To help loosen up your hips before your workouts perform the following routine:

Foam Roll (find 1-3 tender spots and hold on each spot for at least 30 seconds):
Hip Rotators
[media id="DEV__4c84d01c5fe4a6_47754823" title="Foam Roll Hip Rotators"]

Static Stretch (hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds):
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
[media id="DEV__4c84d73d4d4560_52445351" title="Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch"]

Muscle Activation Warm-up (perform 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps of each):
Bench Incline Plank
[media id="DEV__4c7e4e7484a868_81411957" title="Bench Incline Plank"]

Flexion/Extension with a Medicine Ball

Before you get into your regular exercise program you should go through a good flexibility warm-up. You can start with foam rolling (a form of self-massage) of the calves, front of thigh, and glutes, and then stretching of your hips, calves, and inner thighs. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on both legs.

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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.