It’s not very hard to find someone to commiserate with about tight hips. Tight hips are right up there with lower-back pain and knee pain as modern-day ailments many adults deal with on the reg. Like any pain or achiness, there are many potential causes. But for a lot of people, it often comes down to spending a lot of time sitting down—at work, while commuting, watching TV, whatever.
Sitting for several hours a day is commonly cited as the main source of hip tightness. That’s because when you sit all day, your hip muscles are in a shortened position for a very long time. Eventually, this can make them super tight. Tightness can feel straight up uncomfortable, and it really doesn’t do you any favors when you’re trying to do other workouts—tight hips can effect your range of motion, which can impact everything from how deeply you can squat or lunge to the ease of your running stride. Tight hip flexors (in the front) can also make it harder for your glutes to activate, which can lead other muscles to compensate and take on more work than they can handle (like those in the low back), increasing your risk of injury.
If you’re trying to get rid of hip tightness, yoga is a great option. “A well-rounded yoga class should absolutely include some sort of focus on the hips. In fact, it is almost impossible to avoid any attention on the hips in a yoga class,” yoga instructor Katy Conicella, cofounder and lead instructor at Bulldog, tells SELF. “The key to successfully targeting the hips is smartly sequencing a class in a way that warms the body up and provides enough stretching and strengthening of the muscles surrounding the hips.”
But Conicella adds that when trying to improve hip flexibility and mobility, “it’s very important to recognize that not only should we focus on poses that stretch our hips, but we must also strengthen our hamstrings and gluteal muscles, as well as lengthen our inner leg muscles and front sides of our legs, to support the entire hip joint.”
To help you do just that, Conicella suggests incorporating the yoga poses below into your routine. How often you do them depends on what your body’s feeling—so feel free to do a few whenever your tight hips could use some loosening up, or do a few after every workout as part of your cool-down. Just make sure to pick some that both stretch and strengthen these important areas—that’s your best bet for improving tight hips overall.
Demoing the moves is Devon Stewart, a yoga instructor and sexual and reproductive health doula based in Harlem. As always, be sure to talk with your doctor before starting a new fitness routine, and if you feel any sort of pain doing these moves, stop doing them and consult a professional.