The hip is one of the most vital parts of our body when it comes to mobility. The hip joint is, after all, the part for performing movements such as walking, lifting, bending, turning, and even swiveling.
But due to a sedentary lifestyle or old age, your hips could become prone to injuries or ailments. In particular, you could end up straining your hip flexors, which are key players in moving your lower body. Straining your hip flexors can feel uncomfortable, and you might experience a sharp tightness and swelling in your hips. It can also make it difficult for you to perform simple tasks like walking.
To alleviate your hip pain and discomfort, we’ve listed some hip flexor stretches you can do at home. But before committing to an exercise program, make sure to seek guidance from your doctor or therapist first.
Hip Rotator Stretch
One of the most common stretches for hip flexors is the hip rotator stretch.
To do this stretch, lie on your back with both of your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Then, place your ankle on the affected side of your hip on your other thigh near the knee. Slowly push your knee on the affected leg away from your body until you feel a stretch at the front of your hip. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds then repeat 2 to 4 times. Do the same for the opposite side.
Take the stretch a little further by slowly pulling your knee toward the opposite shoulder. You will feel a stretch at the back of your hip. Hold for around 15 to 30 seconds and do 2 to 4 reps.
Another stretch that can help relieve hip pain is called the gluteal stretch.
Start by lying on your back with both of your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Then, rest the ankle of the affected side on the opposite knee. Grab the thigh of your unaffected side then pull it slowly toward your chest until you feel a stretch along your buttocks. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat three times.
The clamshell is a simple hip bursitis stretch you can easily do at home. Lie on your uninjured side with your knees bent and your feet and knees touching. Then, slowly raise your top leg toward the ceiling. Make sure that your heels are touching each other as you perform this stretch.
Hold this position for 2 seconds then lower your leg slowly. Perform 2 sets with 15 reps each.
Iliotibial Band Stretch
To further reduce hip pain, you can perform the standing iliotibial band stretch.
Start by standing with your injured hip against the wall. If you feel unsteady while doing this, grab on to a chair for support. Cross your leg on the unaffected side of your hip in front of your other leg. Then, raise your arm (on the injured side) just a little over your head. Lean away from the wall until you feel a gentle stretch on your hip.
Repeat 3 to 4 times for 15 to 30 seconds.
Standing Iliotibial Band Stretch
You can change the previous stretch up a bit by leaning to the side while standing. Here’s how to do it.
Start by crossing your injured leg over your opposite leg. Then, slowly bend to reach the back part of your foot. As you perform this stretch, make sure you avoid bending your knees. This way, you can fully stretch your lower body and loosen your tight hip flexors. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat 3 to 4 times.
One of the easiest and most effective hip mobility stretches is called a straight-leg raise. Here’s how to do it.
Lie down on your side with your unaffected hip touching the floor. Make sure you keep the knee of your top leg straight and pointing forward. Your hip and leg should be kept straight so they align with the rest of your body. Position yourself properly to prevent your hip from dropping back.
Once you’re in the right position, lift your top leg straight toward the ceiling, about 30 centimeters off the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds before slowly lowering your leg. You can repeat this stretch 8 to 12 times.
If you want to improve your hip strength even further, engage your hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. After all, these muscles help support the hip joints. A great type of exercise that targets those muscles are hip bridges.
Perform hip bridges by lying down with both of your feet flat on the floor. Make sure that they’re placed closed to your buttocks while your knees are bent. Lift your hips and shift your weight down to your heels. Make sure that your hips are in line with your shoulders and knees.
When you perform this exercise, you’ll feel a stretch in your glutes and hamstrings. Hold for a few seconds then slowly lower your hips back on the ground. Do 5 sets of 20 reps.
Lying Leg Circles
If you want to improve flexibility, widen your range of motion, and strengthen your hip, try doing lying leg circles.
Lie on your back with your legs extended. Raise one leg about 3 inches off the ground and make small circular motions while keeping your leg straight. Perform the same exercise for your right leg. Do 3 sets of 5 reps for each leg.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Another type of stretch you can do is the kneeling hip flexor stretch. For this exercise, use a mat or a soft surface. Start by kneeling with both knees, then place your right leg at a 90-degree angle in front of you. Place both hands on your right knee while keeping your back straight. While keeping your torso upright, begin stretching by slowly leaning forward in order to feel the stretch in your groin area and upper thigh.
You can either hold this position or slightly move back-and-forth for 30 seconds for a deeper stretch. Repeat the exercise on your opposite leg.
Perform these hip flexor stretches and relieve the discomfort in your hips. After all, staying active can help stretch your stiff and tense muscles. If you need more tips on how to improve mobility and your range of motion, head over to the LifeClinic blog.