Want to Loosen Your Tight Hips? Try These 10 Hip Mobility Exercises
February 13, 2023
- Knee problems
- Bad posture
- Lack of balance
- Lower back pain
- Reduced flexibility
- Stiffness in the hips and lower back
As you age, your hips are the key to maintaining balance, stability, and mobility. Not only that, but they also provide an important layer of protection for your internal organs, cushioning them from shock and helping to evenly distribute your weight between your upper and lower body.
However, with age comes tight hips. This leads to nearly 80% of adults experiencing lower back pain at some point in their lives (3). And get this: More than one million workers experience back injuries each year—and that’s not even counting back injuries among the retired (4, 5)!
Don’t let this be you! Dr. Chad has shared a series of hip mobility exercises to help relieve pain and open up your hips. Let’s get to it…
Table Of Contents
10 Hip Mobility Exercises You Can Do At Home
Before you begin, here are a few things to know:
- Each set of movements is a couplet, with one exercise focused on increasing hip mobility and the other focused on increasing hip stability.
- Aim to do 2 to 3 couplets per day. Do 2 to 3 sets of each couplet with 10 to 15 reps in each set, unless a specific move has different instructions.
- The hip mobility exercises are listed in order of their difficulty, with the easiest ones first. If you’re in a lot of hip pain, the first few might be the best ones to focus on. Regardless of your current hip status, make sure to listen to your body! Don’t push through sharp pain or warning signs, and talk to your healthcare provider about which moves are safest for you.
- Take note of how many reps of the exercises you can do on each side (most people notice that one side of their body is stronger than the other). Tackle this by always working your weaker side first, observing how many reps that side can handle, and then matching that number of reps on the more dominant side. Match the difficulty level on each side too: if you aren’t advanced enough yet to use a resistance band for exercise on your weaker side, don’t use the resistance band on your stronger side yet. In this write-up, each exercise starts on the right leg or hip, but feel free to start with your left side instead! Whichever side is weaker for you should be the side you start with. Over time, this will help even out your balance.
- For each exercise, remember to breathe and keep your face relaxed!
Couplet 1: Belt Stretches & Bridges | Level 1: Beginner
Level 1: Beginner
Mobility Exercise: Belt Stretch
This is one of our favorite hip mobility exercises, and it will stretch your hamstrings, hips, and adductors to help with outer hip pain. First, use a belt to create a lasso-like loop around your right foot. Then lay back on the floor or a mat, with your legs straight and on the floor, and your right hand holding the opposite end of the belt. Lift your right foot straight up, with the sole of your foot facing the ceiling and your toes not pointed, and hold for 3 to 5 seconds. You’ll feel a stretch in the back of your hamstring. Breathe through it! Then, while still holding the end of the belt and keeping your leg straight, move the leg down and across your body, to the left. You’ll feel this in your IT band. Lift your leg straight up again, and then back down. Do 5 to 10 reps on each side, holding for 3 to 5 seconds each time. Repeat with your opposite leg. Do 2 to 3 sets.
Stability Exercise: Bridges
This move will wake up your glutes! Lay flat on your back with your legs together, bent at the knees, and feet flat on the floor. Imagine a bowl of soup directly under your belly button. Now tilt that bowl of soup toward you with your pelvis, slowly raising your pelvis segment by segment. When your pelvis is lifted toward the ceiling, squeeze your glutes and hold for 2 to 3 seconds. Then, slowly ease your pelvis back down. Then roll back and tilt the bowl of soup in the opposite direction. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Optional: You can add an extra challenge to this exercise by putting a resistance band slightly below your knees. If you choose to use a resistance band, pause when your pelvis is lifted toward the ceiling to move each knee outward, then back inward, before moving your pelvis back to the floor.
Couplet 2: Hip Flexor Stretches & Clam Shells
Level 2: Beginner to Intermediate
Mobility Exercise: Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
One cause of low back pain in hips is tight hip flexors from sitting all the time. Fight against that with this move. Get into a tall kneeling position, with your left leg bent down at the knee, extending slightly behind you. Extend your right leg forward and bend at the knee. Squeeze your glutes, and fold your hands in front of you near your chest. With your glutes still held tight, roll forward so your front right leg is at 90-degree angle with the floor. Keep your back straight throughout the move. You’ll feel a big stretch in your left leg. Hold this pose for 30 seconds (you can increase to 1 minute if you’d like to add an extra challenge). Repeat for 30 seconds on the opposite side. Do 2 to 3 sets.
Stability Exercise: Clam Shells
Lay on your left side, with your head up, left hand behind your head, and right hand on the floor in front of you. Bend your legs at the knee, slightly in front of you, and keep your knees together. Face your chest forward. Pump your right knee upward while keeping your feet together. Then, slowly lower it back down to your other knee. Keep your chest forward throughout the exercise. Do 10 to 15 reps on each side. Do 2 to 3 sets.
Optional: To add an extra challenge, place a resistance band just under your knees.
Couplet 3: Hip Extension Stretches
Level 3: Intermediate
Mobility Exercise: Repeated Hip Extension Stretch
Start in a half kneeling position like you did for your hip flexor stretch—but this time, keep your glutes relaxed. Move forward in a similar motion, and hold for about one second on each rep. Keep your torso perpendicular to the ground. Breathe with the movement, exhaling as you move forward and inhaling as you move back. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps on each side.
Stability Exercise: Quadruped Hip Extension
Move onto all fours. Place your legs side by side, bent at the knee at a 90-degree angle. Lift your back right foot upward, with the sole of your foot pushing toward the ceiling and your knee still bent at a 90-degree angle. Then bring your leg back to your starting pose. Keep your belly button facing toward the ground. Do 10 to 15 reps—or more if you feel comfortable doing so! Repeat on the opposite side. Do 2 to 3 sets.
Couplet 4: 90/90 Stretch & Jane Fonda Stretch
Level 4: Intermediate to Advanced
Mobility Exercise: 90/90 Stretch
This hip mobility move will open up your IT band. Sit on the floor or on a mat. Extend your right leg in front of you and slightly to the side, with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Extend your left leg slightly behind you and slightly to the side, with this knee also bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your torso straight, but flex at the hip, moving your torso forward to your right leg. Pause over your right knee, with your torso still straight, and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. After holding above the knee, consider moving further to the right or left, or doing very gentle small bounces – whatever comfortable directions the stretch takes you. Don’t forget to breathe and relax your face! Switch your legs so that your left leg is now forward, and repeat the stretch for the opposite side. Do 2 to 3 sets.
Stability Exercise: Jane Fonda
This move takes a cue from a fitness icon, Jane Fonda! Lay on your left side, with your head up and your left hand behind your head. Place your right hand on the floor in front of you. Lay your left leg on the ground, bent at the knee, with your knee further forward than your torso. Straighten your right leg, with the bottom of your foot flat and your toes pointed forward. Pulse your right leg upward, holding it straight, to about a 45-degree angle. Keep your leg in alignment with your torso or slightly behind your body—the key is to avoid extending it in front of your body. Pulse your leg upward for 10 reps. At the end of the 10th repetition, keep holding your leg upward and move it in small forward circles. Do 10 reps of forward circles, then reverse the direction of the circles. Continue with backward circles for another 10 reps. Then, finish with another 10 reps of the up-and-down pulsing motions you started with. Do each of these moves in one fluid motion, without pausing to rest your leg on the floor in between! Repeat on the opposite side. Do 2 to 3 sets.
Couplet #5: Internal Rotation Stretch & Monster Walks
Level 5: Most Advanced
Mobility Exercise: Internal Rotation Stretch
Sit on the floor or mat with your knees bent, legs apart, and your feet flat on the floor. Lean slightly back with your torso straight and your arms behind you with your hands on the floor or mat. Gently roll your knees to the right, until they are as close to the floor as is comfortable. Keep your knees at a 90-degree angle. Then, roll your knees to the left, through your center, until they are close to the floor on the opposite side. Use your breath, exhaling as you go. Keep your belly button pointed forward. Do 10 to 15 reps on each side. See if you’re able to gently push yourself a bit further on each repetition as your hips become looser—but if it feels uncomfortable, don’t force it! Do 2 to 3 sets.
Stability Exercise: Monster Walks
Place a resistance band around your ankles. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, knees gently bent. Keep your arms bent at the elbows and your fists together near the level of your face. With your feet still apart, walk forward in small steps. Take 10 steps forward, keeping your legs just far apart to feel the resistance of the band. Then, reverse and take 10 steps backward. Then, take 10 steps to the right, and 10 steps to the left. Do 2 to 3 sets.
- Many people over 40 experience hip tightness, especially if they don’t regularly use their hip joints in an active way.
- It’s important to stretch your hips and keep them active in order to avoid lower back pain or injury.
- These 10 stretches and exercises can help open up your hips and relieve pain. You can follow the steps above or watch the full video here.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.