Hip flexors are one of those parts of the body that we pay entirely no attention to. That is until they start to act up and cause pain and discomfort. Fortunately, there are some hip flexor stretches you can do to help keep your hip flexor muscle in top condition, and prevent tightness and discomfort.
Let’s learn more about hip flexors and the functions they serve, and then take a closer look at some of the many stretches for tight hips that you can try today to help eliminate the tightness.
What’s a Hip Flexor?
The hip flexors are the muscles at the front of your hip. They’re responsible for several essential functions. Since they’re so often overlooked, we often forget to stretch them before exercising or engaging in rigorous activities. Tight hip flexors can also be a product of being sedentary. So, if you don’t lead an active lifestyle, or if you spend most of your day sitting at a desk, you’ll be susceptible to hip flexor tightness.
What Do Hip Flexors Do?
Our hip flexors serve many vital functions. The goal of the hip flexor is to make it easy to for joints to move through their full range of motion smoothly. They’re responsible for important aspects of motion, like our ability to bend, run, or kick. Without our hip flexors, controlling the movement of our legs would be virtually impossible. Our hip flexors also work to stabilize the joints of the hips and lower body.
How Can I Tell if my Hip Flexors are Tight?
The tell-tale sign of hip flexor tightness is a feeling of tightness in the area, of course. But, the muscles that make up your hip flexors may be tight without you feeling any discomfort at all. Fortunately, there’s a particularly easy test to see if your hips are tight.
To evaluate if your hips are too tight, try this: Stand up. Look down. Do your feet point outwardly, instead of straight ahead? If so, your hip flexors are too tight, or overworked.
Why Do People Experience Hip Flexor Tightness?
Tight hip flexors occur for a variety of reasons. Those who run frequently or engage in other activities that put strain on the hip flexors are likely to experience hip flexor tightness at one time or another. A blow to the hip or poor conditioning can also be causes of tight hip flexors. These causes can usually be attributed to tiny tears that occur to our hip flexors through rigorous activity.
But, perhaps the most likely cause of tight hip flexors is related to how we spend most of our time. Sitting puts strain on your hip flexors, and results in hip flexor tightness quite often. If you spend the majority of your day sitting in front of a desk, there’s a good chance your hip flexors are tight.
Why It’s Important to Stretch Your Hip Flexors
Making sure your hip flexors are in top shape is essential for many reasons. First, if your hip flexors are too tight, stiff, or overdeveloped, that will result in lower back and hip pain. Tight hip flexors also affect your range of motion in your lower body.
Tight hip flexors also pull your pelvis forward unnaturally. This causes a chain reaction, pulling your lower spine of our alignment and leading to more back pain.
The hip flexors also help to stabilize your lower body and contribute to your ability to balance your body weight. Tight hip flexors also can result in problems with your posture.
Beyond that, tight hip flexors can also make it difficult for you to stand or walk for any length of time, and can even cause problems with the way you walk.
For these problems, it’s critically important that you show your hip flexors some love! Let’s take a closer look at some stretches to loosen hips that can help whip your hip flexors into shape quickly and easily.
Here's some results many experience with healthy hip flexors:
15 of the Best Hip Flexor Stretches (With Videos and Pictures)
Lucky for us, there are tons of different ways to stretch hip flexors. We’ve put together a broad selection of some of the most popular tight hip flexor stretches below. Some of these stretches may work better for you than others, and there’s also many more hip flexor stretches you can try beyond these. So, experiment with all different kinds of stretches and decide which ones are best for your body.
You can find some of these exercises, along with exact movements manual, and a coaching instructional video with the popular Unlock Your Hip Flexors Program. You can check out our review of the program here.
Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
One of the best stretches for hip flexor tightness is the kneeling hip flexor stretch. You can complete this stretch easily at home.
To get started, take a knee. Next, place both of your hands on your raised knee. Lunge your upper body forward, towards your raised knee and hold this pose for several seconds. Repeat this stretch five times. This stretch will help you stretch the hip muscles, and improve the mobility of your hips.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Similar to the half kneeling hip flexor stretch, this stretch helps to stretch the hip muscles and improve mobility. It also helps to stretch the hamstrings.
To complete this stretch, get into the same kneeling position from the half kneeling hip flexor stretch. Whichever leg you have raised, place that hand on your hip. (So, if you’re doing this exercise with your right leg, place your right hand on your right hip, and vice versa.) Next, tighten your glute muscles, and reach around your body with your free hand to grab that foot. Pull that foot upwards towards your upper body
It’s important to make sure your glutes remain tight because that will allow your hip flexor muscles to relax, which helps to improve your stretch.
Seated Straddle Stretch
This stretch is particularly useful because it helps you stretch your legs, hips and lower back. Completing this stretch does require some pretty advanced flexibility, but trust us, it gets easier with time.
To do this stretch, sit on the floor with your legs about three or four feet apart, depending on how tall you are. Make sure your toes and knees are pointed straight up. Next, take a deep breath, and on the exhale, slowly fold your upper body forward. Rest your hands on your feet, legs, or the floor in front of you and hold this stretch for five deep breaths.
Extended Wide Squat
This stretch kills two birds with one stone by targeting both your hips at once!
To complete this stretch, stand with your feet a bit wider than your hips. Next, bend your knees and bring your body towards the ground. Bring your palms together in front of your body, and press your elbows against your knees.
Hold this pose for five breaths. Next, bring your hands away from your body and place them on the floor in front of your feet, and slowly walk them away from your body. This will help open up your hips even further. Hold that pose for another five breaths.
The butterfly stretch is another useful way for you to open up your hips.
To complete this stretch, sit on the ground with your feet out straight in front of you. Next, bring the soles of your feet together. Make sure that you’re sitting as straight as possible. Then, hold onto your ankles and bring your feet in towards your pelvis. Lean forward so that you begin to feel the stretch, and hold this pose for five seconds.
Head to Knee Stretch
This is one you’ll probably remember from gym class. The head to knee stretch targets the hips, hamstrings, and lower back, making it a comprehensive stretch that’s very useful, especially for runners.
To complete this stretch, sit on the ground with your legs in front of you. Bend your right knee in and touch the sole of your foot to your left thigh. Next, stretch both of your hands towards your left foot while lunging your body forward.
If you can’t make it all the way to your foot that’s not a problem, just stretch as far as you can without discomfort. Hold this pose for five breaths, then repeat the stretch on the opposite side of your body.
Frog Pose / Horizontal Squat Stretch
The frog stretch is another fun and useful stretch that can bring relief to tight hips.
To achieve this stretch, start out on your hands and knees. Slowly widen your knees out as far as they can go, and make sure to keep your lower legs in line with your knees. Your lower legs and feet should be parallel with one another. Next, ease your upper body forward on your forearms and reach forward until you feel the stretch. Hold this pose for about 10 seconds.
This stretch is a bit more advanced, but it’s a hip flexor stretch that can bring you some serious relief for tight hips.
To start, get into a lunge position with your right knee up and your left knee on the floor. Rest your hands on the ground, directly underneath your shoulders. Next, flex your raised right knee outward, so that you’re resting on the outside of your right foot. Press your chest forward to increase the stretch. Hold this pose for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side of your body.
The square pose is one of the most popular poses in yoga, and it’s also one of the best hip flexor exercises.
To complete this pose, sit Indian style on the ground, with your legs as close to your body as possible. To complete the stretch, try and bring your knees closer together without moving your feet any closer together. This will allow your hip flexors to stretch. Hold this pose for five breaths.
This one is difficult, but it’s arguably the best hip flexor stretch there is.
To complete this one, start by taking a knee. Bring your raised knee across your body, so that the hell of that foot is about even with the pants pocket on the other side of the body. Next, bring your upper body forward and hold this pose for five breaths.
Happy Baby Pose
To complete this stretch, lie on your back. Next, bend your knees into your belly. Your shins and feet should be directly above your knees. Then, grab the outside of your feet, and try to pull your knees back towards your armpits. Gently push your feet into your hands as you pull down with your hands to create more resistance.
Deep Squat to Hamstring Stretch
If you’re wondering how to stress hip flexors, this is a great one to start with. There aren’t many standing hip flexor stretches, but this one is one of the best.
First, stand straight up with your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, bend at the waist and grab your toes. If you’re unable to do this, bend your knees slightly until you're able to reach your toes. Then, slowly squat down and hold this position for 3 seconds. Repeat this stretch several times.
Wondering how to stretch your hip flexor? Try the spiderman stretch.
Start out in a push-up position. Now, step forward and place your right foot outside of your right hand. Drive your hips forward and hold this pose for 5 seconds. Then, return to the starting position and repeat the stretch on the opposite side of your body.
Wall Hip Flexor Mobilization
This easy exercise will teach you how to stretch hip flexors with the help of a wall.
To complete this stretch, take a knee in front of a wall so that the toes of the leg you have raised are pressing against the wall. Place that same hand against the wall. Reach behind you with your other hand and grab your leg that’s sitting on the floor by the ankle, and bend it back towards your body. Hold this position and lunge forward towards the wall to complete the stretch. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side of your body.
Sumo Squat to Stand
This exercise is very similar to the deep squat to hamstring stretch, but without the hamstring stretch.
To complete this stretch, stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down. Hold this position for about 5 seconds then return to a standing position. Repeat this stretch several times for maximum effectiveness.
For additional hip flexor stretches (for tight hip flexors) check out this post.
Sometimes Stretching Alone Isn't Enough
These stretches are a great start to unlocking the power hidden in your hip flexors. But, if you do these and still aren't seeing the results you want, it may be time for a second opinion. If you really want to reap the benefits of healthy hip flexors, such as:
- Improved libido
- Fat loss
- Increased motility and flexibility
- More strength, less soreness
- Rid of fatigue
…and more, you may want to check out the popular (and affordable) Unlock Your Hip Flexors videos and ebook. We have a full review of the program here.