10 Exercises to Improve Your Hip Mobility

Have you ever asked someone what the “tightest” region of their body is? We ask this every day and we commonly hear the same response: “My hips.”

The hips seem to always be the most common “tight” area of the body. And these same individuals always seem to blame their hip flexors and hamstrings as the culprit or their tight hips. Most of the time, however, we debunk that their hip flexors and hamstrings are the true cause of their hip tightness. But that is not to say that they do not still have tight hips.

When your hips are “tight” (for whatever reason), your body must compensate to gain mobility from another region of the body. Our bodies are great compensators. Unfortunately, these compensations can lead to musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, such as low back pain.

As you can imagine, hip mobility is largely important for overall health and wellbeing. It is especially important for safe training in the weight room and maintaining our joint health and integrity over our lifespans.

Hip mobility and hip tightness can be improved in several ways. Unfortunately, the most common way that hip tightness is tackled is through pure static stretching. While static stretching may improve your hip stiffness, realize it is just one of many options. And in our book, it is not your best option.

So what is the best way to improve your hip mobility/tightness/stiffness? Through active and dynamic strategies. Through exercises that open up your hips, build strength in your new ranges of motion, and create a lasting neurological change. You should not be after “quick fixes” or gimmicks that temporarily improve your hip mobility, only to be back at square one 2 hours later.

When the hips are intelligently assessed and a thorough mobility training program is created to address the true hip mobility limitations, mobility will not only be gained, but it will be maintained. Here are 10 of our favorite hip mobility exercises to open up your hips, eliminate stiffness, and rid your tightness for good (in no particular order).

1. 90/90 Hip Internal Rotation Stretch

This exercise is amazing for improving your hip internal rotation; it targets the deep hip musculature and the hip capsule, both of which limit hip internal rotation. You should feel this stretch on the outside lateral part of your hip.

PRO TIP: If you have any sort of pinching/pain in your anterior hip/groin region, change up your positioning in the exercise. This pinching is a closing angle joint pain and should be avoided at all costs. Do not compromise your joint health/integrity.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

2. 90/90 Hip External Rotation Stretch

This exercise is great at improving your hip external rotation and hip flexion simultaneously. If you tend to feel a large stretch or a lot of tightness in your gluteal region, this this is the exercise for you.

PRO TIP: Do not round through your spine during this exercise. Think about reaching your chest up and forwards while simultaneously pushing your front hip backwards.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

3. Adductor Rockback Mobilization

Adductor (groin) mobility is often neglected. Yet, it is a very common muscle group that is tight and lacks extensibility. Adequate adductor mobility is essential for every training methodology, especially for sprinting, playing hockey, and performing various lifts. Performing this exercise will improve your adductor mobility as well as improve your overall lumbopelvic motor control.

PRO TIP: Make sure your low back stays neutral throughout this mobilization. This ensures proper mobilization of the tissues and control of the lumbar spine. If you feel any pinching on the outer part of your hip, change up your position. You should only feel this stretch/mobilization on your inner thigh.

PROGRAMMING: 15-20 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

4. Frog Stretch

The frog stretch is another great adductor mobility exercise to target the adductor muscle group while simultaneously improving hip flexion. This exercise tends to be an intense one for the majority of people. You should not feel any pinching on pain on the anterior part of either hips, only a stretch deep in the inner thigh/adductors.

PRO TIP: Make sure your low back stays neutral throughout the exercise. Start by relaxing and deep breathing into the stretch for 1-2 minutes before performing the isometric contractions. If you feel any pinching/pain in your hip joints, change up your positioning. If you cannot eliminate the pain by changing up your positioning, then try this same technique/process in the bottom position of the adductor rockback mobilization.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

5. Couch Stretch

The couch stretch is an absolutely amazing mobility drill to improve hip extension by stretching the quadriceps and hip flexors. Depending on your experience level and overall mobility, your starting position for this exercise may vary (and that is totally fine).

PRO TIP: Do your best to posteriorly rotate your pelvis to elongate your quadriceps and hip flexors. You should not be over-extending/over-arching your lumbar spine. If this stretch is too intense, try a half-kneeling hip flexor stretch with the same technique/process as explained here.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

6. Supine Psoas March

The hip flexors again are one of the most commonly blamed muscle groups for tight hips. But all too often we find that the hip flexors are not actually “tight,” but rather they are “weak.” When muscles are weak, we often perceive them as tight and as such, think they need stretched. If you have been stretching your hip flexors with no luck for months or years and they still feel tight, then this exercise may be for you.

PRO TIP: Throughout this exercise your core should be pressurized and braced; your lumbar spine should not be moving throughout the movement. All movement should be occurring through the hips moving into flexion and extension.

PROGRAMMING: 10-12 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

7. World’s Greatest Stretch

This exercise does not just isolate the hips, but rather incorporates the hips, thoracic spine, and the shoulders. Regardless, it is an amazing exercise to incorporate into your warm-ups to improve your hip mobility while also getting some thoracic spine and shoulder mobility work in as well.

PRO TIP: Lunge out far enough with your front leg so that you feel a stretch in your trail leg’s hip flexors and quads. For the hamstring stretch, try to straighten your leg as much as possible, but do not injure yourself.

PROGRAMMING: 5-10 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

8. Hamstring Doorway Stretch

This one may seem like a common hamstring stretch as the set-up is very common. The execution is where the magic happens. The hamstring doorway stretch we love is an active mobility drill. Remember, we want to create long-lasting changes in our mobility. This requires building strength in our newly acquired ranges of motion. Enter the upgraded hamstring doorway stretch:

PRO TIP: Your back should stay relatively “flat” to the ground through the exercise. Do not try and put your leg straight up the wall and sacrifice your lower back positioning. Keep your leg straight throughout the exercise as well. Put in the work and you will gradually improve you hamstring mobility over time.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

9. Hip Airplanes

Many times “tight” hips are actually just our brain thinking that we need to stretch, when in reality we need more isolated control of our movement. We see this time and time again: people think they need to stretch, but have normal ranges of motion; what they lack is hip motor control and stability. Enter hip airplanes.

PRO TIP: Your spine should stay neutral throughout this exercise. If you need to hold onto an object to provide you with more stability, then use it and slowly progress away from relying on it. Stick Mobility sticks (or PVC pipes) are also an amazing tool to utilize to perform this exercise.

PROGRAMMING: 10-15 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

10. Hip Joint Circles

Again, “tight” hips may not actually be tight at all. Maybe you just need to work on end-range strength and control of all of your hip joint ranges of motion. Regardless of whether you need to work on improving your hip ranges of motion or not, these are great movements to utilize to maintain and expand your ranges of motion.

PRO TIP: Do your absolute best to eliminate movement in your spine, particularly your lumbar spine. You can place a tennis ball on your lower back to provide yourself with tactile feedback. If the ball falls off or moves a lot, you are using your lower back too much instead of your hip joint. With practice your motor control will improve and the movement of the ball on your back will decrease.

PROGRAMMING: 10-15 repetitions per side, 5-6 days/week

And there you have it! Ten of our favorite exercises to improve your hip mobility, stiffness, and tightness.

Remember, none of these exercises should cause any pain or pinching in your hips. If performing these exercises diligently as instructed and programmed above does not yield results over the next couple of months, we recommend seeking out a qualified healthcare professional who understands human movement and strength and conditioning.

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