You’ve heard the saying: it’s all in the hips, but for many of us, our hips – or more precisely, our hip flexors – are tight, stiff and inflexible. If you’re an office worker you can probably thank sitting down at your desk 8 or more hours a day for your tight hip flexors. Habitual sitting causes your hip flexors to tighten and shorten – adjustable standing desks, anyone?
Luckily, there is a lot you can do to get those hips nice and flexible again, so whether you want to tear it up on the dance floor, improve your athletic performance or just get better posture – now you can!
Purpose of Hip Flexors
First off, just what do you hip flexors do? There’s no point in stretching something if all it does is sit there looking pretty! Luckily, it turns out these little muscles are pretty darn important! Specifically, your hip flexors are a group of skeletal muscles responsible for:
- Flexing your hip joint.
- Flexing your trunk forward.
- Pulling your knees upward.
- Moving your legs from side to side and front to back.
- Helps stabilize your lower body.
Why You Should Stretch Your Hip Flexors
Tight hip flexors negatively affect the results you get from your workouts! Everybody loves to drop it like a squat, but to get a great squat you need to have great hip flexor mobility. Especially, if you want to hit those glutes for best results.
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In other words, flexible hip flexors are going to help you get a better booty! Not only that, having flexible, strong hip flexors will help you get better results from many abdominal exercises.
Tightness in this area also often goes hand-in-hand with anterior pelvic tilt, i.e. where your butt sticks out (more than it should) and, if there’s too much tilt it isn’t great for your posture and as a result can contribute to back pain. Not to mention a negative effect on your athletic performance and just about every activity you do.
Getting flexible in this area can help to correct anterior pelvic tilt, especially when combined with glute and core work, giving you much better posture.
Warm Ups for Hip Flexors
Before you do any static stretching, you’ve got to get those muscles warm. Here are some good warm ups for your hip flexors.
Stretches for Tight Hip Flexors
1. Butterfly Stretch
2. Happy Baby Pose
5. Sumo Squat to Stand
6. Lizard Pose
7. Pigeon Pose
9. Frog Pose / Horizontal Squat Stretch
11. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch with Raised Foot
Which is your favorite stretch? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comment section below!
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How many of them should you do?
Anywhere from 30 seconds or more (60, 90, etc.) for each stretch will help to increase your flexibility – i.e. developmental stretches.
You can do more than one rep per stretch if you want.
A great way to do it is to set an interval timer for e.g. 30 seconds and then use that to know when to switch.
Remember, you should feel a pull, but not sharp pain and if it’s sore the next day then you’ve stretched too hard and should take some days off to recover.
Slow and steady!
Actually, research shows little to no benefit from stretches that short in time. 10 minutes minimum per muscle 2-3 x day. Stretching is not complete bs but there is more to it just doing these without addressing other areas could be problematic.
Thanks for your comment @Yake.
Which research are you talking about?
Actually, studies like this one: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273886/ DO show that there is benefit derived from stretches of that duration; specifically:
“Static stretching is effective at increasing ROM. The greatest change in
ROM with a static stretch occurs between 15 and 30 seconds;13,14 most authors suggest that 10 to 30 seconds is sufficient for increasing flexibility.14–17 In addition, no increase in muscle elongation occurs after 2 to 4 repetitions.18”
But we agree: the body should be looked at as a holistic system.
#2 is SO GOOD. I stretch my hips quite a lot and have loosened them up considerably over the last two months but that one gets muscles so deep in my hips I had no idea they even needed to be stretched! I love it, I’m gonna be a happy baby all the time (and I’ll do it everywhere, no question!)
Isn’t it?! And we thought it was JUST us 🙂 Glad you love it too!
When should I do the hip flexors, after or before my workouts? Should I do it daily? Even in my rest day?
You can do them daily even on rest days.
I really want to learn how to split help me please
Take a look at our splits guide: http://www.fitbodyhq.com/fitness/how-to-do-the-splits/
I forgot this question: And If I do cardio after my workout? When should I the hip flexors??
Stretch after you’ve completed everything else.
I’m a runner and started experiencing some familiar tightness in my hip and started getting worse everyday I ran. It’s always gotten sore after running for a long extent for the last 4 years or so. I’m glad I found this page because all of these stretches helped me realize what needed to be stretched and how tight I really was! I hope this will fix my overwhelming soreness. Thank you!
Glad you love it!
Half of those are outright impossible if you’re not already flexible. Or a man. I’m looking at you, pigeon pose.
🙂 It’s a good one, but takes some time!
Being an athlete all my life and having endured multiple knee surgeries due to blowing out ACL’s in both knees, I later started to develop a hip issue in my right hip due to the years of wear and tear.
These days I’m stronger and faster than ever and still competing in sports. This site fb.me/7iW9sE50u/#/_EXERCISES_FOR_HIP gave me the ability to perform at my highest level as a coach and regain the athletic ability I had lost over the years from wear and tear (Y)
Im a skateboarder and a couple weeks ago i skated alot every day and my lefy hip was starting to get sore. But of course i couldnt resist skating so i kept skating and it got worse and worse to the point i couldnt really skate at all without my hip hurting but of course i would still mess around on the board doing tiny tricks but a couple days ago i was just skating around not really doing tricks and i slipped and kicked my leg out and REALLY hurt my hip and thought i tore a tendon or something and couldnt walk for two days, but its gotten alot better and i can walk fairly normal and i ice it everyday but whenever i stretch it its just a really sharp pain it doesnt feel like im stretching it. What do i do when all the stretch does is make a sharp pain? How do i strengthen my hip? And how long would it take to strengthen my hip to full strength again? Because i cant stand not being able to skate. Please reply so i can skate as soon as possible thank you
Honestly, I am new to a lot of this stuff, so I am definitely not an expert on the subject. However, I have been doing some research on the matter, and it seems most people recommend stretching the opposing muscle group in such cases. For example, if you injured your hamstring, you would stretch your thigh. You would also want to stretch the surrounding muscle groups, seeing as how our entire body is fit together, so that every part of your body affects every other part. I realize that by now you are probably back to skating, but for anyone else who reads this and has a similar issue, I would still suggest looking into it a bit, as, like I said, I am new to a lot of stuff (PE was about as far as I got when it came to exercise, until almost two months ago, when I found crossfit), but at least it’s a start.
Whenever I skate long distances or a lot of hills my hip flexor on my front leg gets crazy tight. I usually do a standing runners stretch as deep as I can go until I feel it release.
I’ve got zero flex in the hips and the tightest groin muscles anyone could ever have. In saying that I’m one of the most physically active person you’ll ever meet. Because of my tightness I’ve suffered a double hernia, severe sciatic nerve pain that stretches from my lower lumber through my glues down to my ankles. Thanks to your efforts in all of the above videos and through much of the “no pain no gain” stretches, I’m on the mend by Gods grace. We can all make excuses for the physical break down in our bodies but truly doing something about it without relying on medicating pain killers is the go. I believe IMO it all starts with stretching. All you guys in the above videos are legends.
I’d go easy on the aggressive stretching. One thing that I think would help you is doing some foam rolling. Look it up on youtube you can use a tennis ball if you don’t have a roller, and bonus doing some rolling will make stretching easier!
Mine are pretty tight too. Just went through a very bad hip-joint injury and i dont feel comfortable sleeping on my back anymore. my hips pop up and my lower back arches up due to apparently my very weak core muscles and tight flexors, even though i’ve been regularly working out for two years now. these videos are pretty great for anyone wondering
I can’t stop laughing at the “drop it like a squat” quote, hahaha!! Thanks so much for this information. At only 23 and mildly debilitating sciatic pain for over a month, I was getting quite aggravated. I love jump rope, but it’s impossible with the pain. Now I have a guide to stretch out these ridiculously tight hip muscles.
You’re welcome 🙂
Everything starts at the hips! been doing these 2x daily for the past 2 days & already seeing results. Thanks!
I’m a dancer and all the flexibility I have right now is my right splits. I’m trying to get my left splits, middle splits and possibly over splits if possible. I know I wasn’t born flexible, but I’m trying my best. One thing that will help is stretching my hip flexors and I hope these 12 different stretches will help me. 🙂
I would like to see man stretching to match instead of woman. I am a male. I have seen too many links like yours are women. SIGHING.
Will doing these stretches help improve a sit n reach test?
When I do a deep knee bend like a sumo squat I get a popping in the outside of my left knee. It feels like a big tendon or ligament is slipping per something. It isn’t painful peer se but I’m afraid if I do it a lot it will be. Is that a relatively common symptom for a guy with tight flexors, it bands, etc? Should I just push through it or have it checked out?
Check with your doctor.
I’m not too familiar with the hip flexors, but exactly how does, for example baby pose stretch the hip flexors? I understand how the kneeling hip flexor stretches that muscle but I am not too sure of the rest.
Do you stretch the muscles from different angles with these stretches?
Thanks in advance!
The different stretches put different emphasis on the various muscles which flex the hip.
If i loosen my hips would they become wider?
I think you are confused about how to stretch the hip flexors, a lot of these stretches aren’t effective hip flexor stretches at all.
This stretching video is also good:
Half-kneeling hip flexor stretch is best for me. Squats aggravate knee trouble if you already have it.
I’ve injured the muscles around my hips badly and these stretches are really helping, thanks
I love this chain of stretches! Remembering to go EASY is hard, but this is totally worth it. Thanks!
Louben Repke, RN, BSN, CPT
Those are some great stretches! I own a personal training studio in Severna Park, Maryland. Majority of my clients have physical limitations – so it’s important for them to stay flexible. I send these to my clients and even do these exercises for myself. I highly recommend these stretches to anyone, even people without physical limitations. I love the fact these are actually videos and not just stretches because it’s so much easier for people to figure out how to perform the stretches. You guys are the real MVP!
Louben Repke, RN, BSN, CPT
Personal Trainer & Registered Nurse