5 Effective Hip Flexor Stretches

Hip flexor stretch1 is a significant targeted stretch of the legs that helps loosen up many tight muscle areas in our legs (mainly hip-hip flexors).

As the name suggests, hip flexor stretch mainly relaxes tightened hip flexor muscles.

Hip flexors are present towards the front of the hips. They come in use when you need to flex your leg and knee up towards the body. Hips are vital for runners, bikers, and other similar athletes.

Sitting for long periods is what most of us are guilty of. It leads to tight hip flexors. Tight hip flexors, in return, cause lower back pain, hip pain and may even cause injury.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic surgeons, it was reported that hip replacement surgeries are rising in the United States. They reportedly are at a peak for adults in early middle age.

Hip flexor stretch helps one be more flexible and eases so many hip-related pains2 caused by tight hips. It aids in elongated movements during leg workouts and cardio. Thereby making you more relaxed. Hence, it is essential to stretch hip flexor muscles via hip flexor stretch after every workout (especially after strength training) for the health of hip flexors.

Here are some very effective hip flexor stretches for your lower body to ease your hip flexor strain and other tight muscles.

However, consult your healthcare professional before doing any hip flexor stretches given below.

You will only need a yoga mat or exercise mat as a requirement for doing these hip flexor stretches.

1. Seated Butterfly Stretch

This simple hip flexor stretch helps you stretch your inner thighs, hips, and lower back.

It does not involve a lot of movement, and you can do it while sitting.

hip flexor stretch
By Budgeron Bach, Pexels copyright 2021

How To Do: 

  1. Sit on the floor with back straight and abs engaged.
  2. Put the soles of your feet together and push them in towards the crotch area. Let the knees bend to the sides.
  3. Slowly pull in heels while keeping your soles together intact. Relax your knees and allow them to inch closer to the floor.
  4. Take a deep breath.
  5. Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds according to your level of flexibility. Repeat 3-4 times.

Advanced Version:

Do this advanced version of the above hip flexor stretch for an extra stretch on the inner thighs and back.

Follow the above steps till “4”.

Then either lean forward slightly or bring your upper body forward and towards the ground by keeping your elbows on the ground. Choose either based on your level of flexibility.

Feel the extra stretch in your inner thighs and back by holding the position for 10-30 seconds and then coming back to the starting position that is typically seated. Repeat 3-4 times.

2. Pigeon Pose 

This hip flexor stretch helps stretch the hips, back, and thighs.

Hip flexor stretch
By Elina Fairytale, Pexels copyright 2021

How To Do:

  1. Get on plank position
  2. Slide your one foot forward, say right one first, to your corresponding hand.
  3. Put your leg down so that the right knee is near your right hand on the ground and your right foot is towards your left hand. Adjust the distance of folding your legs from the initial position according to your flexibility.
  4. Keep your left leg stretched out on the ground as much as you can while keeping your right hip squared.
  5. Lower your torso and fold it down on the ground. Put the elbow down on the ground and put your torso down as far as possible.
  6. Hold the stretch without falling to the sides for 10-30 seconds, and then switch sides.

Advanced Version:

You can also try an advanced version of this hip flexor stretch for an extra stretch on thighs and hips. However, it is a strictly advanced level.

Pigeon pose with quadriceps stretch: As the name suggests, this stretch helps to stretch hip flexors and the quadriceps (rectus femoris).

Repeat the above steps till “4”.

Now fold your left stretched-out leg so that your left foot is up in the air and your left knee is on the ground.

Pick your right hand off the ground and try to hold the left foot in the air while keeping the left hand on the ground for support.

Stretch the thigh of your back leg by bringing the foot in the air towards the back of the torso.

Hold the position for at least 30 seconds, and then switch sides.

3. Glute Bridges

This hip flexor stretch helps to strengthen the lower back, and core and, of course, helps stretch hip muscles. You can do this while you lie on your back.

Glute Bridge Hold

How To Do:

  1. Lie flat on your back on the yoga mat with your arms on the side, feet flat on the floor, and knees bent (facing the ceiling). Try to place your feet at such a distance that the tip of the fingers touches your heels. Keep the distance between your feet hip-width.
  2. Press through heels and lift your hips off the floor towards the ceiling while squeezing your glute muscles. Try to bring your shoulders as close together under your body as possible. Keep your chest lifted. The abdomen and thighs should be in one line by engaging the abs. Don’t forget to breathe!
  3. Hold the position for 10-30 seconds and return to the ground. Do this as many times as you like.

Advanced Version:

This advanced version called “One leg glute bridge” helps focus extra on the hips, hamstrings, and thighs (both inner and upper thighs).

Repeat steps till “2” of glute bridges.

Then put one leg, say right leg, straight with the right foot towards the ceiling.

Balance the weight and push through the heel of the left foot. Engage your abs and squeeze your glutes and keep your chest lifted.

Hold the position for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other leg.

4. Lunges Stretch/ Hip Flexor Stretch

This hip flexor stretch helps to loosen the upper thigh muscles, hamstrings, groin area, and hips.

hip flexor stretch
By Monstera, Pexels copyright 2021

How To Do:

  1. Stand upright, and look straight ahead. Take a step forward, say with your right foot. The step length should be a generous one and depends on your flexibility.
  2. Bend your stretched knee such that you are in a lunge position. Transfer your weight to the heels of your right foot.
  3. Sink your left knee to the ground but do not let it touch the ground. Let it hover above the ground by 2-3 inches. It is to be noted that the front knee should be directly above your right ankle. Keep your front leg stable.
  4. Push and sink your hips too straight downwards as much as you can to feel stretch while keeping your left knee still hovering. Feel the excellent stretch on your thighs and hips.
  5. Hold for 10-60 seconds without falling to either side and then switch sides.

NOTE- Kneeling hip flexor stretch:

People having trouble hovering their left knee above the ground can touch it to the ground and continue with the kneeling stretch.

Advanced Versions:

You can add a little more movement to the above stretch for some extra upper body stretch. Only do this if you feel you are stable enough to do.

  • Put your right elbow on your right thigh (stretched out in front).
  • Put your left hand up.
  • Tilt and stretch your left hand and upper body sideways towards the right without falling.
  • Repeat the same for the other side after you switch legs.

Another advanced variation of the lunge can be done (only when you are stable enough with a normal lunge stretch). In this:

  • Get in the above-normal lunge stretch.
  • Shift your right foot (stretched forward) by a few inches to the right.
  • Now sink your upper body down towards the ground by placing your elbows on the ground (in the space you created by shifting your foot, little comes your right elbow).
  • Keep your left knee hovering by a few inches from the ground.
  • Hold for 10-30 seconds and then switch sides.

One more advanced version is there of the above simple lunge stretch: lunge twist with upper body stretch.

  • Come in simple lunge stretch. Move your right foot to the right side by 1 inch for stability.
  • Put your left palm on the ground parallel to the right foot and in line with your left leg.
  • Put your right hand up in the air and look up towards your right hand. Twist your shoulders and chest such that both arms are in a straight line. Don’t forget to keep your arms straight.
  • Hold the position for 10-30 seconds. Then switch sides.

5. Hip Flexion

This hip flexor stretch helps to stretch your hip flexors and hamstrings.

The Lying Hip Flexor Stretch

How To Do:

  1. Lay flat on the floor on your back with your legs stretched out on the ground.
  2. Take one of your knees, say right knee, slowly towards your chest.
  3. Gently pull it closer toward your chest. Note that gently press one of the knees toward your chest as much as you can without making yourself uncomfortable.
  4. Hold for 10-30 seconds and then switch sides.

Advanced Versions:

Hip flexion3 with a twist: This advanced version of the above hip flexor stretch helps stretch out the outer thighs, hamstrings, and back and hip flexors.

  • Follow the steps for normal hip flexion till “3.”
  • Twist your right knee towards the left side such that it almost touches the ground.
  • Try keeping both your shoulders and the back of your chest on the ground and stretch out your right and left arm in a straight line with them touching the ground.
  • Hold the position for 10-30 seconds and then switch sides and stretch your left hip.

Straight leg hip flexion twist: This helps stretch out the outer thighs, hamstrings, back, hip flexors, and calf muscles.

  • Lay flat on the floor on your back with your legs stretched out on the ground.
  • Lift one of your legs, say left leg, slowly towards the ceiling such that the sole of your left foot faces the ceiling. Keep your left foot flat and parallel to the ceiling.
  • Twist your leg towards the right side such that the toes almost touch the ground. Keep the left foot in line with the hip during. That is, keep your legs straight during this stretch.
  • Try keeping both your shoulders and the back of your chest on the ground and stretch out your right arm and left arm in a straight line with them touching the ground. Don’t forget to keep your arms straight even if it is difficult to do so.
  • Hold the position for 10-30 seconds and then proceed with the other leg.

Not even a single hip flexor stretch mentioned above substitutes for professional medical advice or in any way provide medical advice. If the hip flexor strain is severe and very painful, do consult a doctor.

Now that you have a knowledge of these hip flexor stretches practice them daily.

The stronger the hip flexor, the less likely it is for them to be injured and far away from the operating table.

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  1. Konrad, Andreas, et al. “The influence of stretching the hip flexor muscles on performance parameters. a systematic review with meta-analysis.” International journal of environmental research and public health 18.4 (2021): 1936. ↩︎
  2. Kemp, Joanne L., et al. “Improving function in people with hip-related pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of physiotherapist-led interventions for hip-related pain.” British journal of sports medicine 54.23 (2020): 1382-1394. ↩︎
  3. Hardy, Lew. “Improving active range of hip flexion.” Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 56.2 (1985): 111-114. ↩︎

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Saima Qureshi

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