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How to Guide on Stretching Hip Flexors

by Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT November 11, 2020 0 Comments

woman hip stretching

Knowing how to stretch hip flexors can make a big difference when your hips feel sore and your body feels out of balance. Find all the best stretches and stretching tips below, to help return to daily activities, sports, and even sleeping. Keep reading to learn how to stretch tight hip flexors. 

Hip Flexor Stretches

The hip flexors are a large group of muscles that will greatly benefit from regular stretching. When you’re feeling stiff, start with these stretches for relief.

You Can Also Try Yoga Stretches

Kneeling Hip Flexor Lunge

This hallmark stretch is a great way to get deep into the hip flexors. Get into a standard lunge position, placing the foot back behind you to stretch that side of the hip. Then, drop your back knee down to rest on the ground while keeping your front knee bent. Keep the hips square and abs tight as you gently shift your weight into your front foot to feel a deep stretch in the front of the back hip. Alternatively, you can do the same move in standing without dropping your knee.

Hold for 60+ seconds for 2-3 sets on each side.

Hip Flexor Bed Stretch

Sit on the side of your bed for this one. Lie on your back and bring the knee furthest from the edge up toward your chest. Then, let the opposite leg slide off the edge of the bed as the hip extends and foot moves down toward the floor. Keep the leg relaxed, knee bent, and don’t force it. You can try bending the knee further for a deeper stretch too. This stretch can aggravate your back if you force it, so only do this stretch if it feels comfortable.

Hold for 30-60 seconds for 2-3 sets on each leg.

Standing Hip Swing

This exercise is great for circulation and hip tension. Simply stand near a wall for balance. Then, swing the leg further from the wall forward and backward. Make sure you keep the abs tight to avoid arching the back as you extend the hip. You should be able to feel a gentle stretch in the front of the hips as you bring the leg backwards.

Swing for 25+ repetitions on each side until the hips feel warmed up.

Generic Stretches to Loosen Hips

When the hip flexors feel stiff, they tend to make the entire hip and trunk feel stiff too. Try adding these basic hip stretches to your routine as well to feel your best. Targeting the connective muscles will also help to loosen the hips. 

Hamstring Stretches

IT Band Stretches

Seated Piriformis Stretch

Sit on the edge of your seat to stretch the outside of your hip and lateral glutes. Sit up tall with good posture as you rotate the hip to bring the outside of the right foot to the left knee- making a “4” shape with your knee. Then, bring your chest down toward your right shin until you feel a stretch in your right leg and butt. Relax, hold, and avoid slouching by keeping the back straight. Switch when you’re ready to stretch the left hip, bringing the left foot to the right knee.

Hold for 30-60 seconds for 2-3 sets on each leg.

Hamstring Stretch

Grab a stretching strap or belt for this one. Lie on your back with the strap looped around the bottom of your foot. Straighten the knee and then bring the thigh up toward the chest until a strong stretch in felt in the back of the leg. Do not force the stretch.

Hold for 30-60 seconds for 2-3 sets for each leg.

Also Try Foaming Rolling Hamstrings

Standing Pelvic Tilt

This gentle stretch is great for coordinating hip joint and core movement while providing a little stretch to the hip flexors and lower back. While standing, place your hands around the bony pelvis so you can feel how your hips and back are moving. Arch the low back and point the stomach down toward the floor as far as you are comfortable before switching directions. Then, let your back curve into a “C” as you tuck your pelvis under. Move back and forth to loosen the hips.

Repeat for 15-20 repetitions for 2-3 sets. You should notice that you have a comfortable posture in the middle of these two positions that your back, pelvis, and hips feels best in. That is the posture you should strive for with most daily activities like standing and walking.

Find More Hip Flexor Stretches Here

Do You Have Tight Hips?

“Tight hips” is a vague term that refers to a feeling of stiffness in the hips with movement. When referring to the hip flexors, this tightness is felt in the front of the hip. Since the hip flexors attach to the pelvis and low back, having a tight hip can leave your entire lower body and spine feeling completely off.

Tight hip flexors tend to start moderately as tension in the front of the thigh and pelvis, but can then progress to many other lower body dysfunctions such as low back pain.

Learn More About Identifying Tight Hips

Tips for Stretching Hips

The best hip flexor stretches will help you feel better quickly. Since problems with the hip flexor muscles can affect both of the hips, the pelvis and the low back, it’s important to keep these tips in mind to prevent aggravation.

  • Avoid arching the low back when stretching to get an effective pain free stretch in the front of the hips
  • Keep the stretches relatively pain free and relaxed
  • If you’re struggling with hip pain or stiffness, try massaging or foam rolling the hip flexors first to warm up the muscle group
  • If you aren’t sure where to start or feel like your stretches aren’t effective, consider trying physical therapy or a personal trainer for a personalized program

More Ways to Loosen Tight Hips

Benefits of Stretching Tight Hips

There are many great benefits to regularly stretching the hip flexors, these include:

  • Decreased hip pain and pain in the quad, inner thighs, and soles of your feet
  • Increased circulation to promote healing
  • Less stiffness, increased hip range of motion, and improved hip mobility
  • Lesser risk of further hip flexor injury and low back pain
  • Better tolerance for movement and improved quality of life
  • A great warm-up prior to other hip exercises

When & How Often to Stretch

  • Stretch at least one time per day for 10-30 minutes.
  • Ideal times to stretch are when you’re first getting up in the morning, before exercise, after exercise, and right before bed.
  • Decrease frequency as hip joint starts to feel better - but continue regimen for prevention
  • Ultimately, find what works best for you and helps you feel your best.

More Treatments to Help with Hip Flexor Strain

Safety with Hip Flexor Stretches

Tight hip flexors can lead to some serious imbalances in the low back and entire body. By combining a good stretching program with other treatment options, you will be on the road to recovery as quickly as possible. If your symptoms don’t start to improve within 2 weeks or your symptoms continue to worsen, get in touch with your doctor or physical therapist to see what options are available to you for pain relief and improving your quality of life.

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/hip-flexor-strain#symptoms

https://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/library/adult_health/sma_iliopsoas_tendonitis/

Hip Flexor Pain Products

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Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT
Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT

JayDee Vykoukal is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, owner of the healthy habit platform Health Means Wealth, and freelance medical writer. She loves traveling and spending time with her family in nature. Her passion is helping others continue to participate in the activities they love through education and proper exercise.



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