Tight hips are notoriously common … and not only in the “fitness” sphere.
Due to our modern habit of constant sitting, which many of our lifestyles require, our hip flexibility has become extremely limited. Unless we’re actively engaging in lateral movement or varied squats or hip stretches, it’s unlikely they see any type of movement beyond sitting down and standing up.
Unfortunately, lack of hip mobility can lead to all types of issues like back pain, and can even result in injuries during day-to-day movements or training.
Here I’m discussing why hip flexibility is so important, along with the stretches you can do to ensure your hips stay healthy.
Why Hip Mobility Is So Important
Have you ever tried to consciously extend something beyond its normal range of motion? What comes to mind for me is pulling apart a rubberband too far until it accidentally snaps.
Although a little scary to put in the context of our hips, when we think of the importance of hip mobility training, this is a motivational image we can keep in mind.
Our hips are meant to rotate fully, with our legs being able to seamlessly rotate inwardly, outwardly, and move forward and backward without any pain or tightness. However, sitting and training without hips stretching or performing any mobility exercises can shorten the muscles and tendons surrounding our hip joints, limiting our movement.
When our hips are tight, even simply movements like lunges and squats can become limited, since tight inner hips can limit how deep we can lower to the ground. This type of limitation may also impede on your gains, as more depth in certain movements can equal greater strength and muscle development.
When you start stretching your hips, however, you’ll begin to notice that many, if not all, movements become easier and more fluid. This is because the muscles and joints are strengthened yet flexible, allowing you to engage in more motion overall. Your squats will become deeper, further strengthening your glutes, along with lunges, allowing you to build more ham and quad strength.
Not to mention, hip mobility can also translate into less injuries during training and daily life. Think of odd activities like moving furniture that may require deeper squats or other odd movements that, if done by someone inflexible, could result in pulling a muscle.
Overall, hip flexibility is a non-negotiable if you want to truly maintain a holistic system of strength.
Now let’s get on those stretches.
The Best Hip Stretches for Men
Below are a mix of moves that will help increase your hip mobility and full-body flexibility. These are best to do after a workout or a short warm-up.
1. 90/90 Hip Stretch
The beauty of this stretch is that it internally and externally rotates your hip simultaneously. Most people tend to just focus on external rotation, but getting “all sides” in a sense, of the hip, can provide massive mobility benefits.
• Begin sitting on the floor, placing your front leg in a 90º angle directly out in front of you with your knee flat on the ground. (If your hips are really tight and you already feel the stretch, you can stay here for 30-60 seconds.)
• Now, extend your other leg out to your side with the inner thigh of your back leg resting on the floor, also bending the knee at a 90-degree angle.
• Ideally, your legs should be perpendicular to one another. Rest your hands on the floor on either side of your front leg – one beside your knee and the other beside your foot – and be sure to sit tall with your spine straight.
• If you can, lean forward slightly (don’t hunch your back) over your front leg until you feel a deep stretch.
• Repeat by switching your leading leg, holding the stretch for 20-60 seconds.
2. Pigeon Pose
Pigeon pose is a slight variation on the 90/90 stretch and gives some extra targeting to loosening your upper quads. If your hips are pretty tight, don’t worry if you can’t leap into this one right away – just focus on easing deeper into the stretch each time.
• Begin on all fours in a tabletop position. From there, slide your right knee forward to the outside of your right wrist. Simultaneously, bring your right foot to the front of your left knee, resting the outside of your right knee on the floor.
•Slowly slide your left leg backward, straightening your knee and lowering the front of your left thigh as close as possible to the floor. Lower the outside of your right buttock to the floor (or use a cushion if you can’t quite hit it yet).
• Sit up straight, keeping your hips and torso facing forward. As you exhale, focus sinking deeper into your right hip, feeling how this also stretches the front of your left hip and quad.
• To come out of the pose, push back through the hands, lift your hips and move your leg back into all fours. Repeat on the other side, holding the stretch for 20-60 seconds.
3. Frog Stretch
Frog stretch uses a careful rocking movement to loosen the interior of your hips, and is a great dynamic stretch to use as a cool-down or just post-warm-up. Focus on taking this stretch slow and easy; don’t try to force your hips too deep into the stretch.
• Begin on your hands and knees. Move your knees as far apart as feels comfortable for you.
• As you rock backward, slightly squeeze your knees toward each other, then relax them as you rock forward.
• Continue this movement for 20-30 seconds.
4. Cossack Squat
The Cossack squat is an excellent dynamic stretch for your hips, working at loosening and increasing hip ROM while also loading your legs with weight through a common movement, the squat.
• Gather yourself into a wide stance, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
• Lower into a deep side squat over your right leg, making sure your knee is tracking behind your toes. If you can’t lower deeply due to balance, try holding on to a counter or other stable surface for assistance.
• Now, switch over to your other leg while staying in a low squat.
• Repeat this movement 10 times.
5. Sideways Bear Crawl
Sideways bear crawls are another dynamic stretch that helps open your hips while doing a real-life movement (my favorite).
• Begin in a tabletop position, lifting your knees so that they’re at a 90º angle and hovering about an inch off the ground. Keep your back flat and legs and arms hip and shoulder-width apart.
• Step one hand out to the side, followed by the foot on your same side. Bring in your opposite hand to follow, followed by your opposite foot.
• Move in this direction for 5 steps, then move in the other direction for 5 steps.
• You can also move forward and backward here, so don’t be afraid to mix it up.
Extra Moves + Video
Below is a compilation of additional mobility moves I use (and yep, I often post new moves on Insta, so join me there as well for more updates!). You’ll see a version of the bear crawl in action, along with several other good ones.