7 Key Hip Flexor Stretches for Tight Hips (Video Demo) (2024)

Maybe you’ve started seeing a lot of tips on needing to stretch or you simply already know that you hip flexors need some love. Either way here we’re going to dive in to the issues they can create and some of the best hip flexor stretches to relieve that tightness.

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If you’ve ever wondered if your hip flexors are tight, there’s a strong chance they are, especially since so many of us spend a good deal of our days sitting.

Working at a desk, sitting on the couch, driving, and even cycling are all activities that put our hip flexors in a shortened position and can lead to tightness. There are other causes too, especially for us runners.

Our hip flexors are an important muscle group since they are a critical component to our body’s ability to move. Keeping them strong yet flexible is important to healthy movement patterns and our overall comfort.

Keep reading to learn more about the hip flexors, how to know if your hip flexors are tight or weak, the symptoms of tight hip flexors, and some of my recommended stretches to help.

Quick Jump

What are the Hip Flexors?

Our hip flexors are made up of a group of muscles in and around the front of the hip that have the important job of helping with our ability to flex our hip.

The primary muscles of the hip flexors are the psoas and the iliacus, but other muscles include the pectineus, the sartorius, and the rectus femoris. The iliacus and the psoas both connect to the front of the upper part of the femur.

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Every time you sit, stand, walk, or run, all parts of our hips are working, including the hip flexors, the hip abductors, and the adductors. In addition to helping us do all of the above, our hip flexors also help us maintain our posture, alignment, and stability.

Are My Hip Flexors Tight or Weak?

Because it can be easy to assume our hip flexors are tight when they’re actually weak, it’s important to make sure you know what the actual problem is before you just start stretching to improve your mobility.

One simple way to determine if your hip flexors are tight is known as the Thomas Test. The Thomas Test is named after Dr. Hugh Owen Thomas and is used to determine the flexibility of the hip flexor muscles.

To do the Thomas Test, do the following. Sit on the edge of a table or a bed and lie back. Pull one knee into your chest and hold, while lowering the other leg.

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If the upper part of your leg that’s lowered is parallel to the ground with the knee bent at 90 degrees, you’re hip flexors are in good shape. If the upper part of your lowered leg can’t lay parallel to the ground, your hip flexors are likely tight.

Sometimes your Thomas test can be normal but you might still feel tightness in your hip flexors. This could be caused by weakness in your core because the iliacus and psoas attach to the pelvis and lumbar spine. You should instead focus on improving your core stability rather than stretching the hip flexors.

If you think you have weak hip flexors, check out my article on how to strengthen your hip flexors (insert link).

What Are Symptoms of Tight Hip Flexors?

Beyond the Thomas Test to determine if you have tight hip flexors, there are also some symptoms to be aware of that can also be clues.

If you have lower back pain, hip pain, weak glutes, knee pain, and you’re having trouble with every day movements or your running performance isn’t up to par with what it normally is, you may be dealing with tight hip flexors.

Persistent Discomfort or Pain in the Hip Region: One indicator of tight hip flexors is persistent discomfort or pain in the front of the hip joint. This discomfort may manifest as a dull ache or a sharper pain during or after running.

Additionally, you may simply notice more fatigue in the hip because muscles are being overworked.

Reduced Range of Motion: Tight hip flexors can limit your ability to move your legs freely. If you notice a decreased range of motion in your hips, particularly when lifting your knees or extending your legs backward, it may be a sign of tightness.

Lower Back Pain: The hip flexor muscles are connected to the lower spine, and when they’re tight, they can pull on the lower back, leading to discomfort and stiffness.

Pain While Sitting for Prolonged Periods: If you experience discomfort or pain in the hip and groin area while sitting for extended periods, such as at work or during long car rides, it could be a result of tight hip flexors.

7 Stretches for Tight Hip Flexors

So if you’ve determined you have tight hip flexors, it’s time to start adding some hip flexor stretches into your recovery routine.

Below are some of my favorite stretches that target our hip flexors. You don’t have to do all of them. Pick a couple and commit to doing them consistently as part of your stretching and recovery efforts.

Remember, before heading out for a run you should be doing dynamic movements that help warm your muscles up, including your hip flexors. The following stretches are all static and should be done post-workout or at other times when you’re focusing on recovery.

I created a short video demo of the movements to go along with the descriptions below!

#1 Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

This is a great stretch that you may see yourself progress with over time as you gain flexibility.

Start by kneeling on the floor with your right leg in front of you with your knee bent at 90-degrees. Your foot should be flat on the floor too.

Your left knee should be on the floor with your left shin directly behind you. Make sure it’s not angling out to one side or the other. Your left hip should be over your left knee so you start in a neutral position.

First, think about tightening your glutes. This will help bring your pelvis into a nice aligned position. From there lean forward until you feel a stretch in your left hip, thigh and groin.

To advance this, reach your left arm overhead and to the right. Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds, but longer is better. Repeat on the right side.

#2 Side Hip Flexor Stretch

Start this stretch by lying on your right side with your knees bent. They should be slightly out in front of your body.

Move your left foot back like you’re going to do a quad stretch and grab it with your left hand. Your left knee should now be straight down from your hip.

Make sure you keep your pelvis tucked, don’t arch your back. This should provide a nice stretch to your quads and your hip flexor on the left side.

Hold for at least 30 seconds and repeat on your right side.

#3 Low Lunge

Similar to the first stretch in this list, the low lunge takes it a bit deeper and will work in to more mobility.

Get into a low lunge position with your left foot forward flat on the floor and your right leg extended behind you. Start with your hands on either side of your forward left foot.

Lift one or both arms overhead as you lift your upper body. You should feel a nice stretch in your right hip flexor. To advance this for a deeper stretch, lean away from the hip your stretching.

Hold for at least 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

#4 Pigeon Pose

The pigeon post is such a great all-around stretch for the hips.

To do this stretch, start in downward facing dog and bring your right knee forward, bending your knee and lowering your right glute to the ground. How far you can do this really depends on your flexibility.

You can keep your upper body upright or to increase the stretch, lower your upper body over your bent knee.

Hold for at least 30 seconds, return to downward dog and repeat on the left side.

#5 Standing Lunge Stretch

Somewhere where you can get on the ground comfortably? No worries, the standing lunge stretch is perfect for those times.

Step into a slight lunge with your right foot forward. The heels of both feet should be able to be flat on the ground. If not, step your feet a little closer together.

Bend your right knee driving it forward toward your toes while taking a slight lean back with your torso. Don’t over do it, just lean enough to where you feel a stretch in your hip flexor.

Hold for 30 seconds or more and repeat with the left leg forward.

#6 Butterfly Stretch

This is another nice stretch that you can do just about anywhere, including while you’re watching TV.

Sit on the floor and bring the soles of your feet together. Hold onto your ankles. A lot of people hold onto their feet but end up pulling them upward, which we don’t want to do.

Let your knees relax toward the floor. Sitting up nice and tall, use your elbows to gently press your knees toward the floor. You can also bend forward and reach out in front of you for a deeper stretch.

Like all the others, hold for at least 30 seconds.

#7 Deep Squat

This is a great all around hip mobility stretch, but definitely hits our hip flexor muscles too.

Start with your feet a bit wider than hip width apart and your toes pointed slightly outwards.

Keeping both feet flat on the floor, slowly lower into a squat with your core engaged. You want to try to keep your torso upright, but a slight lean forward is ok.

Use your elbows to press against the inside of your thighs/knees and gently push outwards. You should feel a nice stretch in the inner thigh, your hips and glutes.

Hold for 30 seconds or more.

While there are many hip flexor stretches, I hope you’ll find a couple in this list that help you and that you can incorporate into your stretching routine. Don’t forget the rest of your body. Our shoulders, backs, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves all need some love too.

Looking for more to improve your runs?

  • Best Pre-Run Warm Up
  • Hip Flexor Strengthening Exercises
  • 30 Day Core Program for Hip, Glute and Ab Strength

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7 Key Hip Flexor Stretches for Tight Hips (Video Demo) (2024)

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