11 Stretches For Tight Hip Flexors – A Complete Guide

The best exercises to ease stiff muscle tension in the frontal part of your hips.

Reviewed by Dr. Sudhansu Singh, BPT
Written by Charushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist
Edited by Ravi Teja Tadimalla, BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health
Fact-checked by Payal Karnik, MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach  • 

Tight hip flexors may make it difficult to stand, sit, walk, etc. Standing or walking for a longer duration can also cause pain. But doing hip stretches for tight hip flexors can help improve flexibility. Hip flexors are the muscles that contract at the hip joints to help you perform various tasks like walking, exercising, sitting, etc. Basically, these muscles help flex the hip joints. If you sit all day long, these muscles remain contracted and may end up tight (causing leg pain and lower back pain). The only way to get relief is to stretch the hip flexors. Here are 11 hip flexor stretches you can do. Take a look at the details below and relieve your pain.

protip_icon Stretches For Tight Hip Flexors
  • Frequency: 3 times per week
  • Benefits: Improve flexibility and mobility, offer better posture, and alleviate discomfort
  • Equipment Needed: Yoga mat
  • Space Required: Small area
  • Assistance Required: No
  • Who Should Avoid: Anyone with a recent hip injury, osteoporosis, and a hernia

What Are Hip Flexors?

In simple language, the hip flexors are a group of muscles that work together to help bend or flex the hip joint. These muscles are present in the inner part of your hips, lower back, and the front part of your thighs. Here are the names of major hip flexor muscle groups and their functions to help you understand better.

  • Iliopsoas – Consists of two muscles, Iliacus and Psoas major.
  • The Iliacus originates at the pelvic crest and is attached to the femur or thigh bone.
  • The Psoas major originates at the lumbar vertebrae and is attached to the femur.
  • Sartorius – This is the muscle that originates at the anterior superior iliac crest or the bump of the pelvic bone and is attached to the shin bone.
  • Rectus Femoris – One of the four quadriceps that originate below the pelvic bone bump and is attached to the front of the shin bone.

These muscles work to help you sit, stand, straighten your legs, pull your knees up, bend down, run, move your legs side to the side, front and back, and stabilize the lower body. For a few reasons that we all are guilty of, these muscles get tightened, thereby limiting body movements. Here are the main reasons your hip flexors are tight.

Why Are My Hip Flexors Tight?

Tight hip flexors
Image: Shutterstock

When you sit too much, which we all do, your hip flexors are contracted. This lack of mobility, in turn, causes tightening of your hip flexor muscles. If you work out and are active and still have a problem bending down, it is because you are overtraining your glutes, lower back, and hip flexors.

For example, stretching too much during squats with or without weights can also cause hip flexor contraction and may prevent you from performing your best without even realizing it. So, get up and do these hip flexor stretching exercises. But not before you do a solid 10-minute warm-up.

Warm-Up

  • Waist Circles – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Side Lunges – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Leg Swings (front and back) – 1 set of 15 reps
  • Leg Swings (side to side) – 1 set of 15 reps
  • High Knees – 1 set of 15 reps
  • Front Lunge (with pulse) – 1 set of 5 reps
  • Standing Alternating Foot Taps – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Scissor Kicks – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Horizontal Kicks – 1 set of 10 reps

Rest – 10 seconds

Now, you are ready for the exercises.

1. The Standing Hip Hinge

Image: Shutterstock

Steps To Do Standing Hip Hinge

  1. Stand on a mat with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your palms on your hips, fingers holding the sides of your waist, and roll back your shoulders.
  2. Slowly bend the upper body back. Release all tension from your neck and stretch it back.
  3. Hold this pose for 5 seconds.
  4. Return to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 7 reps

Tip – To add more intensity, kneel down and do the same exercise. Kneeling down will stretch the hip flexors and the quads as well.

2. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Kneeling hip flexor stretch for tight hip flexors
Image: Shutterstock

Steps To Do Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

  1. Stand straight on a mat and put your right leg forward. Lunge down till your left knee fully touches the mat. Keep your hands on your waist.
  2. Push your hips forward and stretch your left leg behind. Make sure to keep your spine straight.
  3. Keep shifting your weight to the front until you feel a stretch in your hips and thighs.
  4. Hold it for 10 seconds before releasing and doing the same with the other leg.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 7 reps

Tip – You can also raise your hands and interlock the fingers to intensify the stretch.


protip_icon Quick Tip
Avoid swaying from side to side while doing this exercise as it may throw off your balance and cause injury.

3. The Camel Yoga Pose

The camel yoga pose for tight hip flexors
Image: Shutterstock

Steps To Do Camel Yoga Pose

  1. Kneel down on a yoga mat with your knees hip-width apart. Press your shin bones to the mat.
  2. Place your hands on the back of your pelvis, with the fingers pointing down, and slowly lean back.
  3. Move your hands from your hips and touch your heels with your hands. Your fingers must be pointing towards your toes, and thumbs holding the outside of your feet.
  4. Make sure to keep your thighs perpendicular to the floor and hips directly above your knees. Hold this pose for 5 seconds.
  5. Place your hands on your hips, straighten your spine and sit straight on the mat.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 5 reps

Tip – Beginners can stay with their hands placed on the hips and stretch.

4. Pigeon Stretch

Pigeon stretch for tight hip flexors
Image: Shutterstock

Steps To Do Pigeon Stretch

  1. Start with the Cat Pose with your knees directly below your hips, hands below your shoulders, toes pointing out, and palms flat on the floor.
  2. Bend your right knee and slide it forward between your hands. Your right heel should be just under your left hip and left leg fully extended at the back with the toes tucked under.
  3. Inhale, expand your chest and look at the ceiling.
  4. Exhale, lower your chest slowly and touch the floor with your head.
  5. Hold the pose for as long as you are comfortable. Breathe in and breathe out.
  6. Inhale and release the pose by getting back up.
  7. Switch your legs and repeat the steps.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 3 reps

Tip – While performing the yoga poses, you can use a yoga block or a folded blanket if your hips tend to rise.

5. Butterfly Stretch

Butterfly stretch for tight hip flexors
Image: Shutterstock

Steps To Do Butterfly Stretch

  1. Sit on the floor with both your legs extended in front of you. Sit straight with your shoulders rolled back.
  2. Flex your knees, touch the soles together, hold the feet together with your palms and draw them towards your groin.
  3. Hold this pose for 30 seconds.
  4. Lean forward, keep your back straight, and use your elbows to push your knees to the floor.
  5. Release the pose slowly and get back to step one.

Sets And Reps – 1 set of 10 reps

Tip – Make sure to breathe in and out when you hold the pose and look at the floor when you lean forward.

6. Bridge

Bridge stretch for tight hip flexors
Image: Shutterstock

Steps To Do Bridge

  1. Lie down on a mat with your knees flexed, feet planted on the mat, hands close to your body, and palms facing down.
  2. Without raising your heels, push your hips up till they are in line with your shoulders and knees.
  3. Hold this pose for 3 seconds and then return to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 7 reps

Tip – Keep your shoulders relaxed when you do glute bridges.

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can place an inflatable exercise ball under your legs while doing this exercise for some additional support.

7. Stacked Knee Glute Stretch

Stacked knee glute stretch for tight hip flexors
Image: Shutterstock

Steps To Do Stacked Knee Glute Stretch

  1. Sit on the mat in a pose similar to the butterfly stretch, but this time, put your right leg on top of your left.
  2. Hold both ankles with your hands and pull them back till your right knee is directly above the left knee.
  3. Hold this pose for a few seconds and feel the stretch.
  4. Release the stretch, switch the legs, and do it again.

Sets And Reps – 1 set of 5 reps

Tip – Keep your back straight as you do this exercise.

8. Happy Baby Pose

Happy baby pose stretch for tight hip flexors
Image: Shutterstock

Steps To Do Happy Baby Pose

  1. Lie down on a mat.
  2. Flex your knees and draw your feet up. Grab your ankles with your hands and pull the legs towards your chest.
  3. Hold this pose for 30 seconds and feel the stretch.
  4. Slowly release the stretch and get back to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 7 reps

This exercise also helps strengthen your lower back.

9. Garland Pose

Garland pose stretch for tight hip flexors
Image: Shutterstock

Steps To Do Garland Pose

  1. Stand with your feet almost as wide as your mat. Keep your spine neutral, shoulders rolled back, and chest out.
  2. Flex your knees and lower your body into a deep squat pose. Join your palms together and push your knees back with the help of your elbows.
  3. Keep your spine straight and do not lift your heels.
  4. Hold this pose for 3 seconds. Lift your body back to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 10 reps

Tip – Use a folded blanket to get extra support.

10. Couch Stretch

A woman doing couch stretch for tight hip flexors
Image: Shutterstock

Steps To Do Couch Stretch

  1. Stand in front of a couch, i.e., the couch should be behind you.
  2. Put your right foot on the couch, flex your left knee, and lower your body into a lunge. Go down till your right knee touches the floor. Keep your spine straight, look ahead, and keep your chest in line with your hips.
  3. Hold this pose for 5 seconds before standing back up.
  4. Switch legs and do this again.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 10 reps

Tip – Keep your shoulders rolled back and relaxed while doing this exercise.

11. Knee To Chest Stretch

Knee To Chest Pose For Tight Hip Flexors
Image: IStock

Steps To Do Knee To Chest Stretch

  1. Start by lying flat on your back on a mat or soft surface.
  2. Bend both knees and place your feet flat on the ground.
  3. Gently pull your right knee towards your chest with both hands. Keep your left foot grounded.
  4. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds as you feel a stretch in your lower back and hip.
  5. Slowly release the leg and return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat the process with your left leg.

Sets And Reps – 2 to 4 sets for each leg

Tip – Focus on deep and relaxed breathing while stretching. This helps release tension and enhances the stretch. Maintain your neck in a neutral position to avoid straining.

Infographic: 5 Easy Hip Flexor Stretches

A sedentary lifestyle or increased physical activity can result in tight hip flexors. Regularly stretching this muscle group can prevent injury, relieve back and hip pain, and improve your flexibility. Check out the infographic below for the 5 most easy and effective hip flexor exercises that you can do at home.

5 easy hip flexor stretches (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

A sedentary lifestyle can lead to tight flexors restricting movement and proper walking. Incorporating stretches and resistance band exercises and balance exercises for tight hip flexors along with core strengthening exercises in your daily workout routine not only helps relieve the pain but also improves flexibility. It is important to practice warm-up stretches like side lunges, leg curls, scissor kicks, leg raises, step-up, and kettlebell swings before you try to relax your tight hip flexor muscles. The standing hip hinge, pigeon stretch, butterfly stretch, and happy baby pose are some of the easy-to-do stretches that work on your hip flexors and don’t need any additional equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if your hip flexors are tight?

Lower back tightness or pain while standing, difficulty standing straight or maintaing proper posture, neck tightness and pain, and painful glutes are some signs that indicate tight hip flexors.

Can you massage hip flexors?

Yes, massaging hip flexor muscles can help to alleviate tightness and pain.

Does walking stretch hip flexors?

Yes walking can help stretch hip flexors and loosen up the muscles.

How should I sleep with tight hip flexors?

You may find it comfortable to sleep on the side with your knees curled up or on your back with a pillow under your knees.

Can weak glutes cause tight hip flexors?

Yes, weak glutes may be a contributing factor to tight hip flexors as they affect posture and movement.

Key Takeaways

  • Lack of mobility and overexercise can tighten your hip flexor muscles and cause discomfort and pain.
  • Waist circles, side lunges, scissor kicks, horizontal kicks, and high knees are a few warm-up exercises that can help stretch your hip flexors effectively.
  • The butterfly stretch, pigeon stretch, standing hip hinge, and happy baby pose are a few stretches that work your hip flexors to improve mobility.

Learn how to stretch your hip flexors with the easy exercises given in this video! Check it out now to discover cool tips to keep your hips healthy and strong.

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