These satisfying hip opening exercises will have you feeling your most flexible when you’re done. They are great stretches for tight or slightly painful hips.
It is not uncommon to feel a certain stiffness around your hips, especially if you tend to spend a lot of time sitting down. While the hips are intended to be incredibly mobile, spending too much time in one position can make them feel tight.
Hip opening exercises are part of the solution. Read on to learn how to do them and why you should.
Why is hip mobility important?
The hips are a highly mobile joint which makes it possible for you to rotate from left to right, move forward, backward and from side to side.
Like the shoulder joint, the hips allow movement on all three planes of motion: the Sagittal Plane (forward and backward movements), the Frontal Plane (side-to-side movements), and the Transverse Plane (upward and downward movement).
Mobile hips will help you access your full range of motion, which is incredibly important when lifting weights for example. They will also allow for greater tension, which is essential during explosive exercises such as box jumps.
Healthy hips also play an important role in exercises that require power, such as kettlebell swings or deadlifts, and explosivity, such as sprinting.
Benefits of hip stretches
Mobile hips come with many benefits, both athletically and during day-to-day life.
- Flexible hips allow athletes to perform exercises with more power.
- Mobile hips can improve your efficiency in many sporting activities, from obvious ones such as squatting and deadlifting to more obscure ones such as diving or hurdles.
- Healthy hips allow for a more powerful hip extension, which is required in many activities.
- Prevent injuries in the knees and lower back. If you spend a lot of time sitting, your glutes are likely to be weaken and your hip flexors to tighten. As a result, you might begin to overcompensate with your knees and lower back to gain strength and power in other positions.
Best Hip Opening Exercises
The following exercise combined should take your hips through all their ranges of motion and get them flowing like honey.
You can either perform them before a workout as a warm-up, after your training session to simply relax, or during the day to add some mobility to your sedentary hours.
- Pigeon Pose
- Cossack Squat
- Open And Close the Gate
- Standing Figure 4 Stretch
- Cow Face
- Kneeling Side Bend
The lunge is a classic hip opening exercise and is regarded as one of the best.
- Begin in a push-up or plank position, with your arms and legs extended, wrists right below the shoulders.
- Step your right foot forward, placing it just outside your right wrist.
- Stretch your hips forward, making sure your back leg remains straight.
- For a deeper stretch bring your elbows to the floor, placing them in line with your ankle.
- Hold the pose for around 10 seconds and return to the initial position, then swap sides.
This exercise to open your hips is common in yoga practice. It might feel a little uncomfortable as a beginner, but you should feel your mobility improving as you include it in your training routine.
- Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
- Bring your right knee to your right wrist and place your right ankle between your left wrist and your left hip. Advanced athletes will be able to keep their shin parallel to their wrists, but it’s perfectly okay if your mobility isn’t there yet.
- Straighten the left leg behind you, bringing both your knee and top of your foot to the floor.
- Make sure your hips and shoulders remain square. Generally, try to bring your left hip forward, and lower yourself to the ground.
- You should feel a deep stretch on your hips, hamstrings and even lower back.
- Stay in this position for around 10 seconds, then return to the initial position and repeat with the opposite leg.
You’ll require superb hip strength and mobility to perform this hip opening exercise, so it’s a great target to aim for if you’re struggling with it now.
“Most leg movements work in a forward/backward plane, but you can become more well rounded as an athlete when you move in all directions,” says Functional Bodybuilding founder Marcus Filly.
It is important to include the Cossack Squat in your routine because you don’t only want to stretch your hips, but also strengthen them.
- Stand up with feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Toes should be pointing forward, or slightly outwards, but not too much.
- Shift your weight onto one foot and start squatting until your hip is below the knee.
- One leg should bend, while the other remains straight.
- Chest should be kept upright and the hips down at all times.
- Push your body back to the initial position with the strength of your bent leg.
A good Cossack Squat workout for beginners would be 3 sets of 10-20 reps (5 to 10 on each leg).