When it comes to stretching, your hips are one of the most important areas of your body but they’re often the most neglected. And although the most basic stretches for your legs and low back work on your hips a little, they’re not enough. Here are some of the best exercises that specifically tackle your hips and help you get some relief from your sedentary lifestyle or post-workout.
Starting with one of the most basic hip stretches, the low lunge is easy to perform and it’s accessible to almost everyone, regardless of your flexibility level. Start in a runner’s lunge and place your back knee on the floor. Bring your hands on your front knee and straighten your spine.
Take a big inhale and on your exhale, slowly push your hips forward, stretching the hip and hamstring of your front leg and the hip flexor of your back leg. With every inhale, straighten your spine a bit more, and with every exhale try to get a little bit deeper into your stretch.
Focus on relaxing your glutes and avoid any pinching sensation or tension in your lower back muscles. Stay here for three to five long inhales and exhales before switching over to the other leg.
Once again, start in your runner’s lunge. Set up a good foundation and then open up your front leg to the side, opening the hip. Stay here for a moment and then bring the back knee down. You will notice this will cause a stronger stretching sensation in your front hip so be gentle and take it slow. You can leave your palms on the floor or lower to your forearms to further intensify your stretch.
You can completely customize this pose to your level of flexibility and mobility by deciding how far you’ll move and open your front leg to the side. You might notice that after performing this exercise for a few weeks in a row, the position of your front foot will change. Stay in lizard for at least five long breath cycles before switching over to the other leg.
One of the best passive stretches for your hips, pigeon pose is one of those poses that simply feel uncomfortable until your level of flexibility makes it feel good. Discomfort isn’t pain and it’s important to differentiate the two. Some level of discomfort is completely normal, but if you’re stretching and experiencing pain, you’re doing something wrong.
Start in a downward dog, lifting your right leg off the floor and bringing your knee in between your palms. Your front shin should either be diagonal or parallel to the front of your mat (if your flexibility allows it). Most people will have their shin placed diagonally, so try to place your left hip on top of your right heel.
Square off your hips and ensure they’re in a neutral position. Place your palms near your seat and inhale, opening your heart and bending your back, preparing for the full pose. Exhale and start folding forward over your shin.
Find a comfortable seat and bend your knees. Hug them in tightly to stretch your spine and then place your palms a foot behind your sitting bones, fingers facing forward. Lift your right leg and place your foot above your left knee, making a figure four. You can adjust the placement of your left foot depending on the mobility and flexibility of your hips and have it either close to your sitting bones or further away.
Take a big inhale and on your exhale, slowly push your upper body toward your legs, feeling the stretch deep in both of your legs and your right hip. Take it slow and use your full breath to feel the stretch. Stay for five long inhales and exhales and repeat on the other side.
Also known as the yogic squat, malasana is another incredible hip opener that works for your body and respects its boundaries. Start in a standing position and open your feet. Separate them a bit more than hip-width and slowly come into your deepest squat. Push your palms together and bring your elbows to the insides of your shins.
Take a big inhale and straighten your spine, exhale and push your elbows into your legs, opening your hips and stretching your lower back at the same time. With every inhale, stretch out your spine a bit more, and with every exhale, try to get deeper into your hips. Stay for five long breath cycles.
A variation of the archer yoga pose, this hip opener helps deal with each hip individually, using the power of your elbows and low back to both, get deeper into your stretch, and also protect from injury. Start in a malasana squat and place your hands on the floor. Extend one leg to the side, flexing your foot and pushing your heel into the ground.
Place one palm behind your sitting bones and the other one in front, using your elbow to push into your shin and open your hip. The exact placement of your palms will depend on your range of motion so feel free to adjust as much as you need to feel comfortable and relaxed. Stay for five long inhales and exhales and repeat on the other side.
Stretching your hips is important, but stretching correctly prevents injuries and makes you reap all the benefits. If you’re new to stretching, check out these helpful tips before starting out.