It’s well-known that our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are negatively impacting our hip mobility. The more you sit, the less mobile and flexible you become, which can in turn lead to rigid hips. So, how do you eliminate hip stiffness? Try incorporating some hip mobility exercises into your daily routine.
In this article, we’ll explain why hip mobility is important, highlight some of the best movements to add to your repertoire, and leave you with a sample hip workout you can do today. Let’s get started!
Why is Hip Mobility So Important?
Strong and mobile hips are important because they can help you function without any pain. You use your hips constantly everyday, whether it’s walking up stairs or picking up groceries. For athletes that use this area extensively like tennis players, boxers, and runners, having hips with a wide range of motion means you’re less likely to be hurt and you can be more explosive.
If your joints become stiff, they’ll be less efficient because the hip’s ability to move the joint throughout its entire range of motion will be compromised. As a result, surrounding muscles will have to compensate by picking up the slack. This is a recipe for muscle pain, serious injury, and everything in between.
What Causes Poor Hip Mobility?
Poor hip mobility is usually caused by two things: repetitive shortening of your hip-flexors and weak glutes. Together, these two things will tighten your hips and cause improper posture. For example, if you’re going from sitting all day to high intensity exercise, your hip-flexors will be moving in ways that can’t be supported.
What’s the remedy for this? Take care of your joints. Incorporate exercises into your workout splits that focus on building joint strength and overall range of motion. Your body will thank you later on.
Hip Mobility Exercises to Try Today
We’ve compiled nine of the best hip mobility exercises that you can add to your routine today. Try doing these stretches before you do any major movements that require your hips.
9. Butterfly Hip Stretch
If you sit at a desk or spend a long time driving, this stretch should be a part of your daily routine! The butterfly hip stretch helps to prevent groin injuries, stretch your inner thighs and open your hips.
How to Do the Butterfly Hip Stretch
- Sit tall with your legs bent and soles of your feet together
- Allow your knees to gently fall to the sides to feel your hips opening and a stretch on your adductors
- Use your hand to press into the ground and move your hips closer to your heels. Work within your range without forcing the stretch
- Root into your sit bones into the floor and avoid rounding through your spine and hold.
8. Piriformis Stretch
The piriformis runs from your sacrum to thigh. Because it’s located deep in the buttock, it can be difficult to reach. Due to its proximity to the sciatic nerve, when tight, it can be extremely painful. This can be caused not only by inactivity but also from too much hip compressive vigorous activity. Doing the pririformis stretch can keep your from aggravating the sciatic nerve.
How to Do the Piriformis Stretch:
- Lie on your back with both knees bent.
- Cross your right ankle over your left knee.
- Keep your left foot grounded or take the option to hold the back of your left thigh behind your opposite knee, gently drawing your thigh towards your chest
- Hold for at least 30 seconds, then switch to the other side.
7. Hip Flexor Stretch
The hip flexor stretch is a simple move to help you to find a release for your hips. Outwardly this doesn’t look like a deep stretch, but the glute squeeze is key here. When you feel the squeeze, you’ll feel a much stronger stretch. Use this move in your warm-up, cool-down, or as a movement break between bouts of prolonged sitting.
To warm up, move dynamically by pressing the hips away from the back knee and back to your start position. If you’re looking for a deeper release, hold the position and take a moment for your body to relax.
How to Do the Hip Flexor Stretch
- Start in a half-kneeling position.
- Slightly tuck your pelvis and squeeze the glute of the bottom leg to feel your hip flexor release
- Hold for at least 30 seconds and repeat to the other side
6. Hip CARs (Controlled Articular Rotation)
Hip CARS take your hips through their full range of motion, making this an ideal exercise to incorporate into your next warm-up. The key to this exercise is in the name. This is all about control, move slowly to build awareness of your range. Maintain your mobility as you age by making hip CARs part of your daily routine, just like you would maintain your white pearls by brushing your teeth!
How to Do Hip CARs:
- Start by standing tall and avoid compensating in your hips or lower back as you move through your range, with control. Place your hands on a stable surface to aid your balance.
- Lift one knee towards your chest
- Maintain square hips as you take your knee out to the side, and work to keep your knee at the same height.
- Rotate your lifted knee inwards, so that your heel turns skywards (working internal rotation)
- Bring your leg behind you, and complete the rotation by lowering your knee under your hip
- Reverse the rotation and repeat for 30 to 60 seconds before switching to the other side.
5. Kneeling Lunge Stretch
Building on from the hip flexor stretch, try this small adjustment to feel a deeper release. Make sure your back knee is comfortable, grab a cushion or folded-up blanket, or keep your back toe tucked. This will allow you to relax into a deep stretch for your hips and quadriceps. Add a side bend to feel the stretch along your IT band.
How to Do a Kneeling Lunge Stretch
- Start in a half-kneeling position.
- Slightly tuck your pelvis and squeeze the glute of the bottom leg to feel your hip flexor release.
- Press your hips forward away from the back knee to feel a release in your hips and quad.
- Hold for at least 30 seconds and repeat on the other side
4. Traveling Butterfly Stretch
By making the butterfly stretch dynamic you’ll get the benefits of this relaxing position, whilst also increasing blood flow to gradually break up the tension in your muscles. The benefits of moving between two positions mean, as you relax, you can start to work into a deeper range of motion.
- Sit tall with your legs outstretched in front of you
- Use your hand to press into the ground and lift your hips closer to your heels.
- Bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to gently fall to the sides
- Briefly hold the stretch before returning to the start potion
- Flow between the two positions with control to feel your hips opening
3. Standing Piriformis Stretch
The standing variation of this stretch makes it more accessible for those who struggle to get down onto the floor. Try holding onto a TRX suspension trainer to aid your balance and work into your range. Otherwise, use an elevated surface, such as a stable table, to rest your shin on.
How to Do a Standing Piriformis Stretch:
- Stand facing the anchor point holding both rubber handles
- Center your left leg for balance. Lift your right knee, externally rotate, and bring your right ankle above your left knee.
- Sit into your squat, keep the right foot flexed, and work on pressing your right knee away from your midline to feel the release in your hips.
- Return to the start position and repeat on the other side.
2. Frog Stretch
If you really want to stretch your hips as deep as possible, then try the frog stretch. The frog stretch focuses on internal rotation so that you can stretch your hips, groin, and inner thighs, all together. Make sure to ease into your range because this is an intense stretch and you can easily injure yourself.
How to Do the Frog Stretch
- Begin in a four-point kneeling position.
- Take your knees apart as you start to lower your hips toward the ground
- Look back and check that your ankles are in line with your knees with your feet flexed
- Lower down to your forearms if you can and use your arms as leverage to depend on the stretch by pressing your hips back towards your heels
- Pause and hold the stretch, remember to breathe as this one is intense!
- Take your time to come out of this position, straighten your arms and lift your upper body and slowly walk your knees back towards one another.
1. Windshield Wipers
Windscreen wipers are another great exercise for your warmup. They gently get your hips moving through a full range of internal and external rotation.
How to do Windshield Wipers:
- Start sitting tall on your sit bones with your knees bent, feet on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your sit bones grounded, drop both knees to the right to make a 90/90 angle
- Return to the start position and transition to the other side
- Work with your range, it’s ok if your knees don’t touch the floor, try adjusting your position by leaning your torso back or moving your feet closer/further away from your hips to best suit your range of motion.
Sample Hip Mobility Workout Routine
Now that we’ve looked at the best hip mobility exercises to build more range and depth, let’s bring it all together and create a sample hip mobility routine. The routine contains dynamic exercises and stretches that help with recovery and relaxation. Let’s get into it!
- Hip CARs (Controlled Articular Rotation) - 3 reps per side for 2 sets
- Hip rotator stretch (Windscreen wipers) - 60-90s of the movement should leave your hips feeling more open
- Travelling Butterfly Stretch - again 60-90s depending on your level of flexibility, if your stiff you’ll benefit from spending longer to work into your range
- Hip Flexor Stretch hold for 30s-60s, if you’re ready for a deeper release transition into kneeling hip flexor stretch for a further 30-60s
- Butterfly Stretch - Begin by holding for at least 30-60s, with practise build to 3-5 mins
- Piriformis Stretch - Hold for at least 30s each side, you’ll find a deeper release the longer you hold
- Frog Stretch - Begin by holding for at least 30-60s, with practise build to 3-5 mins
How Often Should You Do Hip Mobility Exercises?
How often you do hip mobility exercises largely depends on your goals and activity level. You’ll see more results doing consistent, shorter sessions than longer sessions every once in a while. Find a duration that you can keep up with and make a daily habit of.
You don’t have to add every exercise into your workbook, but choose your favorites. Then, next time you find yourself sitting for a long period of time, use those movements to get your hips loose.