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Fix Those Tight Hips with the Standing Hip Stretch

By: Dr. Seth Hosmer, DC

Tight hips can happen for all kinds of reasons, but they are especially common in people who sit a lot. Aside from discomfort, the problem with having overly tight hips is that they can lead to postural issues and increase the likelihood of injuries during exercise and other everyday activities.  The standing hip stretch is a great way to target tight hips and keep your body moving properly.

Could this help you?

  • If your hips feel tight, or if you have mild stiffness in your lower back, the standing hip stretch is worth trying.
  • The standing hip stretch is good for the lateral/outside parts of your hips, including the tensor fascia latae (TFL), gluteus minimus, gluteus maximus and some of the long attachments associate with each muscle.
  • For a deep posterior stretch, see the spiderman hip stretch.
  • For anterior hips, see the lunge.
  • For hamstrings and adductors tightness, see the JCVD stretch.

What you’ll need

  • When starting out, use a door frame or other suitable stable object to hang onto for balance. As you become comfortable with this stretch, you may find that you are able to do it anywhere without the need for something to balance against.

Goal

  • Improve the mobility of your lateral hips and reduce hip and/or lower back discomfort.

Exercise overview

The hip is a ball and socket joint, so certain degrees of freedom are important in every position of the joint for improving function and mobility. This stretch uses a lateral shift in the hips followed by the addition of a cross-plane motion in three basic positions to restore the ability of your hip tissues to move normally (see the video below for a demonstration).

The most important part of this stretch is also the most difficult for beginners: push your hips out to the side AND keep your spine neutral at the same time. Most people do the opposite and keep their hips relatively still while overusing the low back.

Frequency and tips

  • One time a day is a good starting point, but you can do 2-3 times
  • Do five reps of each motion in each recommended position
  • Go slowly with each rep, spending roughly two to five minutes per side

Bonus: Do the supernova for lateral hips before doing this stretch and you’ll get better results. As you are stretching, if you come across a spot that won’t let go, spend some more time in that area on the supernova ball and then return to the stretch again to achieve better mobility.

How to stay safe

  • If you get any sharp low back pain, re-set, re-brace your core and start over.
  • Any low back pain is caused by “hinging” your lower back rather than stretching the hips.
  • Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise.

We’re here to help

Once you find the right movements and motions, the standing hip stretch is very effective. Keep in mind that it can take some time to find the sweet spots in this stretch so it may take some exploring. Just be sure to reset any time you feel pinching or pain of any kind in your lower back. When you do find the right spots, you’ll know because it will feel good and you’ll probably be surprised with how tight some areas are and how much better things feel after stretching them. If you’re struggling to find the right movements or have questions about any part of the stretch, we can provide a quick coaching session at your next appointment.