If you start feeling pain down to the inside of your thigh and perhaps even down to your knee, it can very well be a problem from your hips.
If you feel tight hips or pain in the hip area that prevents you from walking, it’s most likely your hip acting up.
How to Release Tight Hips – Best Relieving Stretches: Quick Summary
Here are the 6 best hip stretches for pain
- Best Stretch for Tight Hips to Start With: 90 Degree Stretch
- Figure 4 stretch
- Pigeon / Twisted reclined pigeon
- Bed stretch
Tight Hips and Hip Pain – Causes
Hip pain can result from normal wear and tear with age, trauma from accidents or sports injuries, muscles strain over time, or even from tight muscles resulting from sitting a lot at a desk.
As a trigger point therapist running a recovery lab in Hong Kong to solve different pain problems for my clients, I often see hip pain in people who work long office hours, but I also see it experienced by weekend warriors who are very active.
Basically, the hips tighten up because there is a lack of flexibility and mobility, so stretching can really help here.
Today I want to introduce six hip stretches that I have found useful for people who are normally not so flexible.
Before we get started, let me warn you: stretching can be discomforting and even painful.
You need to get beyond your “normal” comfort zone. But as long as you stay at a pain threshold of 6 or 7 (where maximum “I wanna die!!” pain is a 10) then you’re good.
Remember, also, the longer you stay in each position, the sooner you will feel your muscles loosen up.
Best Stretches for Hips – What you need
Best Stretches for Hips – Who Will Need These
Everyone could benefit from these stretches but these people would love this article:
- “Weekend Warriors” who sit at a desk job all week but also go hard doing sports or working out on the weekends
- Office workers who spend a lot of time at a desk and on their computers
- People who are suffering from:
- Trauma to hips
- Seniors with osteoarthritis
- Septic arthritis
- Hamstring injury
Best Stretches for Hips – A word of warning!
While these stretches will successfully release the hips and reduce the pain that has resulted from tight muscles, there are some situations where your pain may not resolve on its own. In these cases, see a professional! Below are some telltale signs that you may need to consult with a doctor.
- your hip is still painful after 1 week of resting it at home
- you also have a fever or rash
- your hip pain came on suddenly and you have sickle cell anaemia
- the pain is in both hips and other joints as well
Go straight to the hospital if:
- the hip pain was caused by a serious fall or accident
- your leg is deformed, badly bruised or bleeding
- you’re unable to move your hip or bear any weight on your leg
- you have hip pain with a fever and feel unwell
How to Release Tight Hips (or Hip Pain): Lucia’s 6-Step Formula
Best Stretch for Tight Hips to Start With: 90 Degree Stretch
If you know you have really tight hips, starting with this is a gentler way of easing your limbs towards increased flexibility. Also known as the 90/90 hip stretch, this stretch is excellent for those suffering from hip pain or tightness.
How to do it:
- Sit with your right knee bent at 90-degrees in front of you, calf perpendicular to your body and the sole of your foot facing to the left. Keep your right foot flexed.
- Let your leg rest flat on the floor.
- Place your left knee to the left of your body, and bend the knee so that your foot faces behind you. Keep your left foot flexed.
- Keep your right butt cheek on the floor. Try to move the left butt cheek as close to the floor as possible. It may not be possible if you’re super tight.
- Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
- Repeat on the other side.
Suggested: 2+ min each side
Tips: Lean body forward to increase the stretch
Best Warm Up / Cool Down Stretch for Tight Hips: Figure 4 Stretch
A very popular stretch to do before / after a workout and time efficient. Keep both hips and bum on the floor to get the most out of this stretch, as it’s easy to cheat! If you feel any strain in the neck or shoulders then you’re overcompensating and most likely you’re not feeling the stretch where you should, ie. in your hips or glutes.
How to do it:
- Lie on your back.
- Cross your left foot over your right quad, and bend your right knee.
- Hold the back of your right leg and gently pull it toward your chest.
- When you feel a comfortable stretch, hold there.
- Switch sides and repeat.
Suggested: 2 min each side
Equipment: Yoga Mat
Tips: If you don’t feel a deep stretch, try pigeon pose instead
Most Effective Stretch for Tight Hips: Pigeon Pose
This pose is an essential one to add into any stretch routine and if you don’t have the space or you need a quick release, you can even do it while sitting on your chair — so there’s no excuse!
This stretch stretches all the muscles that are the cause of hip tightness, so just one minute of doing this on each side can offer a couple hours of pain release. The more you do it, the better!
How to do it:
- Position your right leg at a 90 degree angle
- Slide your left leg back behind you, pointing your toes
- Prop yourself up and support your weight with your hands if it feels too intense (You may want to wear wrist supports for this stretch)
- If you’re not feeling much, reach both your arms forwards away from your body to rest your torso on the floor
- Try to square the hips evenly
Suggested: 2 min each side
Equipment: Mat or chair
Tips: Increase your stretch by leaning your body forward without rounding your back
Best Stretch for Tight Hips Before Going to Sleep: Bed Stretch
Here’s a relaxing stretch for your hip flexors. All you have to do is hang your leg over the side of your bed when you’re getting ready to sleep.
How to do it:
- Lie down on your back
- Swing your outside leg over the edge of the bed and let it hang
- Gravity should gently tug on your quads and hip flexor
- Take deep breaths to bring more blood flow to your hip flexors
Suggested: 2+ minutes each side
A resistance band is useful if you’re not flexible enough to reach your ankle. You can also use it to manipulate the angles: different angles stretch different parts of your quads and hip flexors.
Choose a resistance band that is long enough for you to loop around your ankle while holding onto the band. If you can reach your ankle with your hand then the resistance band is not needed.
Tips: Make sure you grab onto the other side of the bed so you don’t fall off!
The Simplest HIp Stretch that will do Wonders: Frog Stretch
Everyone hates this stretch but trust me, it’s very effective. We ladies tend to have our legs crossed a lot, creating tightness in our inner groin and inner thighs. When these muscles are tight, it usually leads to tight hips too.
How to do it:
- Assume a quadruped position with knees on the floor and hands on the floor.
- Turn the toes outward to externally rotate the femur.
- Open up at the knees, allowing them to be as far apart as possible.
- Begin sitting backward and downward. Your butt should begin to fall between the knees. This is the point where you will feel the full depth of this stretch.
- Perform proper diaphragmatic breathing while in this position.
- Hold the stretch for 45 seconds and release the stretch.
- Perform 2-3 sets at a time.
Suggested: 2+ minutes, you can put a pillow or a folded up towel to help with any discomfort in the knee or groin area.
Why I like this: It’s simple to do and goes deep
Tips: Take long, slow breaths into the groin area
Best Stretch for Tight Hips Without Pulling on your Knee: Pretzel Stretch
You can adjust this to your liking in a variety of ways: for example, you will feel a deeper stretch just by pushing your hips forward. You can also adjust the angle of your top leg to target different muscles around your thigh area.
How to do it:
- Lie on your left side with your head resting on your arm.
- Bend your right knee and hip up toward your chest as far as you can, and let it drop to the floor.
- Bend your left knee and grab your left foot (use a strap if you can’t reach it) with your right hand.
- Make sure your left thigh and torso remain in a straight line as you gently bring your top shoulder blade toward the floor.
- For more of a spinal twist, turn your head to look over your right shoulder.
Suggested: 1 minute each side
Why I like this: If you want a deeper stretch without pulling on your knee, this is the go-to stretch
Tips: take deep breaths into your hips to increase the stretch
FAQs: How to Release Tight Hips – Best Hip Stretches for Pain (Great for Office Workers)
What are the symptoms of tight hip flexors?
Signs that you have tight hip flexors could vary from tightness in your lower back, to even pain in the neck area. Symptoms of tight hip flexors include trouble standing up straight due to lower back pain, hip flexor pain when seated, neck pain throughout the day, pain in the lower abdomen area, and pain in the glutes and thighs.
Can a chiropractor fix tight hips?
A chiropractor can help ease tight hip flexors however it’s the muscles, not bones, that is often the cause of feeling pain.
Chiropractors are trained to adjust your skeletal bone alignment: once chiropractors release that, you will still need to loosen up the muscles surrounding the bones and also strengthen your muscles to hold the bones in place.
This is where physical therapy like trigger point, active stretching, and massage come into play.
Can weak glutes cause tight hip flexors?
Weak glutes can come into play as they cause a tightened pelvis, shifting the pelvis downwards out of alignment, which causes the hip flexors to strain. The glutes have an important function for the body and can certainly be the cause of tightness in the lower back as well as hip flexors.
Best Stretches for Tight Hips: Final Thoughts
The key to becoming pain free is loosening up the muscles that have become tight from your daily activities and habits. Therefore, stretching every day and increasing flexibility will ensure your muscles stay supple and healthy.