How to stretch hips and hip flexors

Outlines how to stretch hips and how to stretch hip flexors with the best exercises explained step-by-step, important tips and what to avoid doing.

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Flexible hips are important! Because hardened muscles in this area can lead to various problems, as described below. The good news: You can loosen up your hip area with very simple exercises. The following always applies: Do all exercises slowly and carefully so that the risk of injury is as low as possible. Most of the exercises for stretching the hips come from yoga, by the way.

And don’t let the myths and fallacies surrounding this topic mislead you, because there are quite a few of them, the primary one being that hip stretches are painful. Nonsense! Stretching exercises should not hurt under any circumstances – a slight stretching pressure, on the other hand, is completely okay.

Why is hip stretching important?

Well-stretched muscles in the hips are important for good mobility in the lower back and legs. For example, if you jog, you can swing your legs further back with your hips open and use the power of this movement. In everyday life too, walking becomes “flexible”, i.e. less wooden. This also makes it easier to avoid falls, which is particularly important at an advanced age. However, flexible hips also prevent malpositions of walking and running that can lead to pain in the knees, for example.

The muscles connected to the hip support the hip, giving it stability and strength. To do this, these muscles have to be strong, but also remain flexible. Movement and stretching are the best prophylaxis and therapy for pain in the hips and other areas of the musculoskeletal system.

In order for our hips to do their job as shock absorbers while walking, they need movement. Because the cartilage tissue on the inside of the joint is supplied by synovial fluid: It nourishes and lubricates the joint. And synovial fluid is produced by movement. At the same time, this mobility transports away degradation products. Without movement, these processes – in the truest sense of the word – cannot take place smoothly. It can even increase the risk of injury.

Which muscles are involved in hip stretching?

Hip opening exercises primarily affect four muscles: the inner and front muscles of the thighs (quadriceps and adductors), the glutes, the hamstrings or ischiocrucale group, and the front iliopsoas.

What are the dangers of not stretching the hips?

If the muscles of the hips are not sufficiently loosened and stretched, this has negative effects on the lower back, the knees and the hip area itself. Mobility then suffers and pain plagues us. Most of us easily spend eight to twelve hours a day sitting down – at work, eating and in front of the TV or monitor with Netflix pearls. Constant sitting shortens and hardens the corresponding muscles. The consequences are the complaints mentioned. The whole thing doesn’t look nice either, because postural damage can also result from this situation.

What should you watch out for when doing hip stretches?

Above all, correct stretching means being careful with yourself. There may be a slight stimulus when stretching, but it should never be painful. As soon as the stimulus becomes too strong, you should get out of the stretch. You can’t say that often enough. If you always do stretching exercises slowly and carefully, you can recognize the first signs of overstimulation and thus prevent pain and injuries. Also, be sure to avoid excessive pressure.

Also, don’t hold the stretches for too long. A few breaths or a minute is enough. But it should be at least ten seconds. Then you can repeat the corresponding exercise once or twice. Do the exercises at least three times a week so that the effects are not lost in the meantime.

Always pay attention to the correct execution of the stretching exercises – this includes the correct posture. So the whole body is always involved and not just the stretching area.

How to stretch hips: the best stretches

Usually several areas of the hip muscles are stretched with each exercise. There are quite a few good exercises for doing this. The “best” exercise is named here, which can typically be used for certain areas of the hip muscles.

How to stretch hips: external hip muscles

A classic from yoga that is also the repertoire for runners and gym athletes to stretch the outer hip muscles:

  • Lie on your back
  • Put both feet on the mat
  • Place one foot over the knee of the other leg
  • Now hug the thigh of the raised leg
  • Pull this leg a little closer to you
  • Swap sides and do the same with the other leg

How to stretch hips: front hip muscles

With the pigeon pose, you train the front hip muscles and the rear muscles at the same time. Please do this yoga exercise very carefully and pay attention to your knees.

  • Kneel and support themselves on their hands, their arms outstretched
  • Pull your left knee forward between your hands
  • Now, lean forward and stretch out your arms
  • Important: Both hips are straight and parallel to the front
  • Extend your right leg straight back
  • Get out of the exercise as you went in
  • Now do the same with the other side

How to stretch hips: back of the hip muscles

Now it becomes very easy: the squat – in yoga it is called Malasana.

  • Crouch down
  • The soles of both feet are on the ground
  • The upper body remains upright
  • Fold your hands in front of your chest
  • Now push your legs apart with your arms

How to stretch hips: internal hip muscles

The yoga butterfly, Bhadrasana, is also a simple exercise. But the devil is in the details – here that means: Please keep your back straight in the position.

  • Sit on the floor
  • Put your hands around your feet
  • The knees push sideways towards the floor;

Conclusion – important tips for stretching the hip

Open hips are not only important for healthy hips, but for many areas of the musculoskeletal system. Target the most important muscle groups and do this several times a week. The following applies to all exercises: Do not overdo it! Always work carefully to your personal limits, otherwise injuries can occur. If you already have serious physical problems, consult a doctor first before you start exercising.

How to stretch hip flexors

Flexible muscles and fasciae of your hip flexor are basic requirements for the stability and mobility of your lower back and your hip joints. The strongest flexor of the hip joint is the Iliopsoas muscle, which consists of the double psoas major muscle (“large lumbar muscle”) and the iliacus muscle (“iliac muscle”).

The Iliopsoas muscle gives your pelvis, the entire hip joint and your trunk both stability and flexibility. For example, it allows you to straighten your trunk and lean forward. Without it, sitting up straight from the supine position would not be possible, as this movement can only take place by bending the hip joint.

The psoas major in particular has a major impact on your back health in the lumbar spine area. It gives your lumbar spine stability and flexibility, enables you to run and allows your legs to be drawn to your upper body. While sitting or lifting your legs, the psaos major shortens as a result of the tension. When standing, however, it is long and stretched out. Knowing how to stretch psoas is key to lumbar and back health.

Keep this in mind when stretching your hip flexors

When stretching your hip flexors, there are a few tips to keep in mind so as not to overuse the muscles or use them incorrectly.

  • Warm up the muscles before you start stretching. You can do a short workout or run a short lap.
  • Do the exercises slowly, in a controlled, and clean manner . Avoid jerky movements.
  • Breathe deeply and evenly . If you want to intensify the stretch, move deeper into the posture as you exhale.
  • Just go so far that you feel a slight tug in the hip area. If a muscle hurts, you are already stretching it too much.
  • You can stretch dynamically or statically. When stretching  your hip flexor dynamically, you rock slightly back and forth in the respective posture. This means that the muscle is alternately stretched and released again.
  • When doing static stretching on  your hip flexor, you hold an exercise for 15 to 30 seconds. Which variant you choose depends on your individual requirements and needs. Dynamic stretching works well as a warm-up before exercise, while static stretching is best done after a sport session.
  • After very hard exercise (like marathons or competitions), you should n’t stretch immediately. Instead, give your muscles a break of at least 24 hours to allow them to regenerate.

How to stretch the hip flexors with the lunge

The lunge is a classic exercise that lets you stretch your hip flexor.

One of the most classic stretches for the hips and legs is the lunge . You can also use it to stretch your hip flexor.  

  • Your front leg is bent. The angle between your calf and thigh should be approximately 90 degrees. If the angle is too acute, your foot is too far back. This puts a lot of strain on your knee. You should avoid that.
  • The back knee and calf are on the floor. The back of your foot is on the floor.
  • Your upper body is straightened. Make sure your back is straight.
  • Now breathe in and out deeply. Each time you exhale, you can get a little further into the stretch.

How to stretch the hip flexors with a lunge variation

With this exercise you can stretch your hip flexors, but also your long back muscles.

With this slightly more complex exercise, you can stretch your hip flexor even more intensely. By turning your upper body, you also stretch your back muscles .

  • First come in the lunge. This time, lift your back leg so your knee is in the air. Only your toes still touch the ground.
  • Your front leg should be bent at right angles again.
  • You may tend to put most of your weight on the front leg. To avoid this, you should also actively tense your back leg.
  • Your upper body is initially straight. The look is ahead. If the following movement is still too difficult for you or causes pain, you can stay in this position.
  • If your right leg is in front, you now place your left hand on the floor. If your left leg is in front, take your right hand accordingly.
  • Turn your upper body to the right and stretch your right arm straight up. If you can, turn your head to the right so that your gaze follows the outstretched hand.
  • Hold the exercise for at least 15 seconds, then switch sides.

How to stretch the hip flexors when lying down

With this exercise, you can even stretch your hip flexor without having to stand up.

 You can also stretch your hip flexors in bed , for example shortly after you wake up or before you go to sleep. In this way you do something good for your hips without much effort.

  • Lay down on your back. Pull one leg up towards the upper body. The other is stretched out flat on the floor.
  • Grasp the bent leg with your hands and pull it firmly up towards your chest. You should feel a slight pull in the hip area.
  • Be careful not to fall into a hollow back.
  • Hold the exercise for 15 to 30 seconds, then switch sides.

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