7 Tips for Dealing with Tight Hip Flexors

Danh Ngo"Staying Active" Division, Exercise Tips, Running, Yoga + Pilates

tight hip flexors

About 80 percent of the U.S. population suffers from lower back pain at some point. Tight hip flexors may be part of the problem. Your hip flexors can be tight from sitting for long periods, jogging, and cycling. 

Don’t let tight hip flexors ruin your exercise routine or make you uncomfortable. Here are seven tips to do with tight hip flexors.

Are Your Hips Tight?

If you think you may have tight hips, you may have pain in your upper groin area, hamstring strains, or lower back pain. Tight hips can cause other health issues with your knees, sacroiliac joints, and low pain.

You can evaluate your hip flex muscle flexibility with this test.:

  • Lie on the floor, bench, or another flat surface
  • Pull both knees to the chest
  • Press the right knee against the chest
  • Straighten the left leg
  • Lower the left leg as far as you can
  • Repeat on the other side

If you cannot completely lower your leg to the surface, your hip flexors are tight. By doing targeted exercises, you can help loosen these muscles. Complete these exercises regularly and then test your flexibility again to see your progress.

1. Butterfly Stretch

After you workout or after sitting for a while, the butterfly stretch is a great way to loosen up your hips. Sit on the floor and put your legs straight out.

Put the soles of your feet together. Try to move your heels as close to your body as possible. Lean forward and keep your back straight.

Put your elbows on your thighs and push gently to get a deeper stretch. Stay in the pose for at least 30 seconds.

Try doing this stretch first thing in the morning or in the evening before you go to bed to loosen up your hips.

2. Use a Foam Roller

Foam rollers are a great way to loosen and stretch your hip muscles. Get in a forearm plank position on the floor. Put the roller under the front of one of your hips.

Let the other leg stay to the side and off the roller. Roll up and down for 30 seconds. Focus on areas that feel tight with this massage technique.

3. Lunges

Place your right foot forward. Do a deep lunge and let your left knee rest on the ground. Then straighten that leg as much as you can. 

Put your hands flat on each side of your right foot. Raise your left arm over your head and lean toward the right. Hold for a few seconds and then do the other side.

4. Sitting Stretch

You can do this stretch while you are sitting at your desk. You can also do this while you watch tv, ride in the car, or on an airplane.

Sit in the chair and keep your back straight.  Put your right ankle on top of your left knee. Lean forward until you feel a stretch.

Don’t go lean forward too far. The stretch should feel gentle and not extremely painful. 

Hold this stretch for about 60 seconds. Then repeat on the other side to loosen your hips.

5. Glute Bridges

Lie on your back. Put feet about hip-width apart. Keep your feet flat on the floor and put your arms straight at your side with the palms on the floor.

Make sure you tighten your abs. Keep your feet and shoulders on the ground. Squeeze your glutes and push your hips toward the ceiling.

Pause and hold at the top for 30 seconds. Then slowly lower down. Repeat this motion and remember to keep your abs tight at all times for the entire exercise.

6. Horizontal Squat

This stretch and also help loosen and stretch your back muscles. Start with your knees and elbows on the floor. Bend your knees at 90 degrees.

Move your knees as far apart as you can. This lengthens your spine. 

Then lower your upper body on your forearms. Take your hips back and down with your arms forward. Hold for 60 seconds and keep repeating this motion.

7. Pigeon Stretch

This is a common yoga stretch. Do this daily to get more mobility in your hip flexors. 

Start in the tabletop position on your hands and knees. Move your right knee forward behind your right wrist. 

Put your right ankle in front of the left hip by crossing your leg under your body. Then straighten your left leg to go out behind you. Make sure your left knee is straight and point your toes.

Double-check that your hips are square. Then gently lower to the ground.  Stay in this position for at least 10 seconds.

To get out of this position, push up on your hands, lift your hips, and move your legs to stand. Then repeat this on the other side.

Preventing Tight Hip Flexors

It’s important to warm-up before each workout and to stretch at the end of the workout. If you sit at a desk for a long time, make sure you get up and move every hour.

Along with these targeted stretches, you can also reduce muscle pain and tightness with a massage. Massages relieve your tight hips by:

  • Breaking down scar tissue
  • Stretch hard to reach tissues
  • Increase blood flow
  • Release endorphins to help reduce pain
  • Relax the muscle with circulation and heat generation

Exercises will help you increase or maintain your hip range of motion. They also strengthen area muscles. 

For nagging cases of hip pain, you may want to talk to your doctor about physical therapy to fix the root of these issues with your hips or lower back.

Need More Help?

It’s important to move slowly with these stretches and make sure you don’t push too hard to cause any other damage. You should feel the stretch but not intense burning pain.

If you try these exercises and still feel pain, you should consider physical therapy to help target these tight hip flexors. Contact us today for a free 15-minute telephone consultation to see how we can help you. We offer a blend of holistic, orthopedic, and physical therapy.