Have you ever tried to bend down to pick up something, and your hips feeling like a rusty door hinge? If you're tired of feeling the tension in your hips and back every time you move, you're in the right place. In this blog, we’ll cover the five most effective exercises for hip mobility.
But first, a quick overview of why improving hip flexibility is so important.
Your hips are like the control center of your body
A good range of motion in the hips can mean less back pain, fewer injuries, and better sports performance. Given the central role your hips play in nearly every type of movement, investing time in improving their mobility makes sense.
By doing so, you'll not only enhance your athletic performance but also upgrade your day-to-day quality of life.
Before you stretch
Give your hips a nice warm-up. Something as simple as a few rockbacks and marching on the spot to get the blood flowing. Especially if you live in a colder climate.
Consider the warm up a ‘Hello, how are you?’ before the deep conversation with your muscles.
The 5 most effective exercises for hip flexibility
Whether you're working on mastering the splits or new to flexibility training, these five movements are our go-to for improving hip flexibility.
1. Pigeon stretch
This stretch opens up the hip external rotators, hip flexors, and glutes, and you can adjust it based on your flexibility.
Assume the quadruped stance
Begin by getting down on all fours on a comfortable surface. Ensure your knees are directly below your hips and your hands are slightly ahead of your shoulders.
Transition to pigeon formation
Slide your right knee toward your right hand, angling your right foot toward your left hand. As you do this, extend your left leg straight behind you, letting your thigh rest on the floor.
Adjust the position of your right heel so that it's in front of your left hip. The specific angle will depend on your level of flexibility, so go with what feels comfortable yet slightly challenging.
Elevate your posture
While exhaling, extend your spine by pushing the crown of your head toward the ceiling. As you do this, lift your hands off the floor, bringing them to your hips or extending them out in front of you for added balance.
Maintain this stretch for 30 seconds to one minute, breathing deeply throughout.
If you find the stretch too intense, use a yoga block or cushion under your front hip to reduce the depth of the stretch.
2. 9090 internal rotation
For most people, tension in the lower back, just above the glutes, is related to stiffness in the hip internal rotation. The 9090 position is the go-to for opening up that rotation.
Start in a seated position on the ground
Place one leg in front of you and the other to your side. Ensure both legs are bent at 90-degree angles at the knee and the hip. Your front leg should be perpendicular to your torso, and the side leg should be parallel.
Rotate your pelvis towards the front leg
Aim to bring your belly button in line with your front knee.
Keeping your front foot firmly planted on the ground, lean your upper body forward, directing your chest towards your front knee. Keep your back straight and hinge at your hips.
Focus on keeping your hips level to ensure you're isolating the external rotators in your hip.
Hold the position
Maintain the pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Feel the stretch in your hips and thighs as you hold the position. If the internal rotation stretch is new to you, there might be some cramping on the outside of the hip. Try to sit with that feeling for a while to get the body used to the position.
Repeat on the other side.
If you find it challenging to maintain the 9090 position, you can use your hands for support when you’re just starting.
3. Wall-assisted hip flexor stretch
Adding the wall-assisted hip flexor stretch to your flexibility regimen offers targeted benefits for your hip flexors, making it particularly valuable for people who sit a lot.
Position yourself near a wall
Select a wall space with ample room and stand facing away from it. Initial positioning should be about two feet from the wall for optimal space.
Step forward with one foot while keeping the other in its original position. Gradually descend into a lunge, carefully aligning your front knee directly above your ankle.
Prop your back foot on the wall
Lift your back foot and place it flat against the wall. The height of your foot from the floor will dictate the intensity of the stretch. Make adjustments based on your comfort and level of flexibility.
Keep hips squared and aimed forward. Lower your body to increase the stretch intensity. Your front knee should remain in line with your ankle.
Engage core and maintain
Activate your core muscles to help with balance and alignment. Sustain this position for 30 seconds to one minute, focusing on deep and even breathing.
Gently lower your back foot from the wall and return to standing.
Use a dowel or chair for support if you find it challenging to balance. Consider tucking your pelvis slightly under to elevate the stretch intensity as you maintain the position.
4. Butterfly stretch
The butterfly stretch is an excellent way to target the inner thighs. It might look easy, but you’re in for serious work with this one.
Take a seated position
Begin by sitting on a flat, comfortable surface and bring the soles of your feet together.
Hold your feet securely with your hands. Your elbows should rest against your thighs or inside of your knees, ready to apply gentle downward pressure.
Straighten your spine
Engage your core and elongate your spine, lifting the crown of your head towards the ceiling.
Apply pressure and hold
Use your elbows to apply gentle pressure to your thighs, pushing them closer to the ground. Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute, breathing deeply and steadily.
Release and reset
To exit the stretch, slowly release the pressure and return your legs to the starting position.
For those seeking a more intense stretch, use your elbow to push your knees as close to the ground as possible. Then, lock your elbows and drive the knees against them, creating an isometric contraction in your inner thighs. Hold that contraction for 20-30 seconds.
5. Hip bridge
The hip bridge improves hip flexibility and strengthens the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. It's a staple exercise for anyone looking to enhance hip flexibility and strength.
Start on your back
Lie down on your back on a comfortable, flat surface. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Your arms should be resting at your sides, palms facing down.
Activate your core and glute muscles to maintain proper form throughout the exercise.
Lift your hips
Press down through your heels and lift your hips toward the ceiling. Aim to create a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
Hold the bridge position for 30 seconds. Alternatively, do 10-15 repetitions by slowly lowering your hips back to the starting position before lifting them again.
For an advanced variation, you can perform the hip bridge with one leg raised, focusing on isolating the strength and flexibility of each side. Another option is to place a resistance band around your thighs just above the knees and push outward during the exercise, adding an extra dimension to the workout by engaging the outer hips and glutes.
Having flexible hips isn’t just for gymnasts and contortionists
It’s essential for anyone who wants to move better and feel better. And especially so if you spend most of your day sitting down.
Why STRETCHIT is your go-to app for hip flexibility
So, you've got five effective exercises for hip flexibility. But if you want to see changes, you’ll want to make stretching a habit. To make the most out of each workout, you need to know how to progress and regress each exercise to suit your body and goals.
That's where STRETCHIT comes in. It’s your one-stop shop for all things flexibility. Whether you're a newbie or looking to master the splits and backbends, STRETCHIT is your personal flexibility coach in your pocket. Start your free 7-day trial today.