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Hip Mobility Exercises For Improved Flexibility and Performance
Hip mobility exercises are movements and stretches for enhancing the flexibility and range of motion in the hip joints. The exercises help to improve the functioning and health of the hips.
By regularly performing hip mobility exercises, exercisers can alleviate hip discomfort, reduce the risk of injuries, and enhance athletic performance.
These routines typically involve dynamic movements and static stretches, targeting various muscles around the hip area.
Ensuring good hip mobility is crucial for maintaining optimal posture, reducing pain, and supporting several physical activities. Hip mobility exercises can help you do that.
Hip Mobility Exercises – Target Muscles
Hip mobility exercises target muscles around the hip joint and the surrounding areas. These can vary depending on the type of exercise.
The primary muscles and muscle groups that hip mobility exercises work include,
- Hip Flexors
These muscles, including the psoas major and iliacus, allow you to flex your hip joint and lift your leg toward your chest.
- Hip Extensors
The gluteus maximus and hamstrings are hip extensor muscles responsible for extending the hip joint, such as when standing up from a seated position or during activities like running and jumping.
- Hip Abductors
They enable you to move your leg away from your body’s midline. They play a crucial role in hip stability and balance.
- Hip Adductors
The adductor muscles allow you to bring your leg back toward the midline of your body.
These are smaller muscles within the hip joint. They are responsible for rotating the thigh bone or femur in various directions. They contribute to hip mobility and rotational movements.
- Core Muscles
Engaging the core muscles, including the abdominals and lower back muscles, is often necessary to stabilize the pelvis and support hip movements during mobility exercises.
You may need to engage the quad muscles in some hip mobility exercises, especially those that involve leg lifts and dynamic movements.
- Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL)
The muscle assists in hip flexion and hip abduction, playing a role in maintaining hip stability and mobility.
- Lateral and Posterior Hip Muscles
Various muscles on the lateral and posterior areas of the hip joint contribute to hip mobility in different directions.
Best Hip Mobility Exercises That Can Help Boost Your Performance
Hip mobility exercises can benefit people of all fitness levels and help them improve their lifestyle and performance in many areas.
Below are some of the best hip mobility exercises that help target and strengthen the muscles in the hips and surrounding areas.
Hip Flexor Stretch
The Hip Flexor Stretch is one of the best hip mobility exercises for those who spend a lot of time sitting, as prolonged sitting can lead to tight hip flexors.
The exercise targets the muscles in the front of the hip, particularly the hip flexors. Stretching these muscles can help improve hip flexibility and range of motion.
Steps to follow
Here’s how to perform the Hip Flexor Stretch:
- Kneel on an exercise mat with one knee, keeping the other foot flat on the floor. Your front knee should form a 90-degree angle.
- Ensure your hips are squared, your upper body is upright, and your shoulders are relaxed.
- Gently shift your weight forward by leaning your upper body slightly ahead while keeping your back straight. You should feel a stretch in the front of the hip of the kneeling leg.
- Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds while breathing deeply and relaxing into the position.
- You can increase the stretch by pushing your hips forward slightly.
- Release the stretch and switch to the other side by kneeling on the opposite knee and repeating the process.
- You can perform the stretch multiple times on each side to help improve hip mobility and alleviate tightness.
The Pigeon Pose is a yoga pose that specifically targets the hips, helping to increase flexibility and improve hip mobility.
n effective hip mobility exercise. It is a yoga pose that specifically targets the hips, helping to increase flexibility and improve hip mobility.
The pigeon pose is one of the best hip mobility exercises that stretches the external rotators of the hip and the gluteal muscles while providing a gentle stretch to the hip flexors and quadriceps.
Steps to follow
- Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees, with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Slide one knee toward the wrist on the same side, angling it slightly towards the opposite wrist.
- Extend your other leg straight back behind you, keeping your hips level.
- Ensure you flex your front and make your shin relatively parallel to the front edge of your mat. Extend your back leg straight behind you and rest the top of your foot on the floor.
- Ensure your hips are square and level, and your weight is evenly distributed between both hips.
- Inhale and lengthen your spine, sitting up tall.
- Exhale as you slowly fold forward over your front leg. Keep your chest and shoulders relaxed. You may use your hands for support in front of you or rest your forearms on the floor.
- Hold the Pigeon Pose for 15-30 seconds or longer while breathing deeply and allowing your hips to relax and open.
- Release the pose and return to the tabletop position, then switch to the other side by bringing the opposite knee forward and extending the other leg behind you.
The Butterfly Stretch is one of the best hip mobility exercises that target the muscles in the inner thighs and groins, helping to improve flexibility and mobility in the hip joint.
The butterfly stretch is also one of the best hip mobility exercises for individuals who want to increase their range of motion in activities that involve hip abduction and external rotation.
You can use the butterfly stretch as a warm-up or cool-down stretch for various physical activities, including yoga and martial arts.
Steps to follow
- Sit on the floor with your back straight and your legs extended in front of you.
- Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to fall out to the sides.
- Hold onto your ankles or feet with your hands. You can interlace your fingers around your feet for a better grip.
- Inhale and lengthen your spine to sit up as tall as possible.
- Exhale as you gently press your knees toward the floor using your elbows. Your goal is to feel a stretch in the inner thighs and groins.
- Hold the butterfly stretch for 15-30 seconds while breathing deeply and, at the same time, allowing your hips to relax and open.
- Slowly release the pressure on your knees, straighten your legs, and return to the starting position.
- Repeat multiple times.
Hip Flexor and Quad Stretch
The Hip Flexor and Quad Stretch targets the muscles in the front of the hips, helping to improve hip flexibility and range of motion.
It is one of the excellent hip mobility exercises for those with tight hip flexors resulting from prolonged sitting or intense physical activities.
Steps to follow
- Stand with your feet at hip-width.
- Step back with your right foot and bend both knees to lower into a lunge position.
- Ensure your front knee is directly above your ankle, forming a 90-degree angle. Your back knee should hover just above the floor.
- Reach back with your right hand, grab your ankle, and gently pull it toward your glutes. The action will create a stretch in both the hip flexor and quadriceps of the right leg.
- Keep your upper body upright and your shoulders relaxed. Avoid arching your lower back excessively.
- Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds while breathing deeply, and allow your hip flexor and quad muscles to relax and lengthen.
- Release the stretch and switch to the other side by stepping back with the left foot for the left leg and repeating the process.
- You can perform the stretch on both sides multiple times, as needed.
The hip flexor and quad stretches are potent hip mobility exercises that can help alleviate tightness in the front of the hips and thighs of athletes and individuals who engage in activities involving running, cycling, or other repetitive leg movements.
Seated Leg Swings
The Seated Leg Swings primarily target the muscles in the legs, but they also engage the hip joints, contributing to improved hip flexibility and range of motion.
Seated Leg Swings are valuable for warming up the hip area and preparing it for more intense physical activities, such as running or weightlifting.
Steps to follow
- Sit on a sturdy chair or weight bench with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight.
- Hold onto the sides of the chair or bench with your hands for balance and stability.
- Extend one leg straight out while keeping the other foot flat on the floor.
- Begin swinging the extended leg back and forth in a controlled manner. Ensure you generate the swinging motion from your hip joint.
- Keep your swinging leg straight and engage your core muscles to stabilize your upper body.
- Control the movement and avoid any excessive force or momentum.
- Switch to the other leg and repeat the swinging motion after swinging one leg for about 15-30 seconds.
- Newbies or those with limited hip mobility can start with smaller swings and gradually increase their range of motion as their hips loosen up.
The Lizard Pose targets the hip flexors, hip extensors, adductors, and the muscles around the hip joint.
The Lizard Pose can help increase hip flexibility and mobility, stretch the hip flexors, and improve the range of motion in the hips.
Steps to follow
- Get into a push-up or plank position with your hands aligned under your shoulders and your feet at hip-width.
- Bring one foot forward and place it outside your hand on the same side. Bend your knee at 90 degrees.
- You can adjust the position of your front foot as needed to find a comfortable stretch. You may need to angle it slightly outward to accommodate your flexibility.
- Slowly lower your hips toward the floor while keeping your upper body upright. You should feel a stretch in the hip, groin, and inner thigh area of the extended leg.
- Hold the Lizard Pose for 15-30 seconds or longer while breathing deeply and relaxing into the stretch.
- Return to the push-up position, switch to the other leg, and repeat the process.
Leg Swings are dynamic stretches that can help improve hip flexibility, warm the hip joints up, and enhance your range of motion. They can benefit exercisers in activities that involve hip movement, such as running, kicking, or dynamic sports.
Step to follow
- Stand close to a support, such as a wall, pole, or sturdy surface, for balance.
- Place one or both hands on the support for stability.
- Swing one leg forward and backward in a controlled manner while keeping it straight. The swinging motion should come from the hip joint.
- Swing one leg from side to side, crossing it in front of the stationary one, and then swinging it back to the side.
- Keep the swinging motion smooth and controlled, avoiding sudden or jerky movements. Start with small swings and gradually increase the range of motion as your hips warm up.
- After swinging one leg for 15-30 seconds, switch to the other leg and repeat the swinging motion.
- Throughout the exercise, maintain good posture by keeping your upper body upright and engaging your core.
- Inhaling and exhale rhythmically as you perform the leg swings.
Hip Rotations are excellent hip mobility exercises that can help improve the range of motion in the hip joint and increase hip flexibility.
Steps to follow
- Lie on your back on a comfortable surface, such as a yoga mat, with your legs extended straight.
- Gently engage your core muscles.
- Bend your right knee and bring it toward your chest.
- With your hands, hold your right knee and gently pull it across your body toward your left side.
- Keep your left leg extended straight on the floor.
- Hold the position for about 15-30 seconds, feeling a gentle stretch in the hip and lower back area.
- Release your right leg and return it to the extended position on the floor.
- Repeat the same sequence on the opposite side. Bend your left knee, bring it toward your chest, and gently pull it across your body toward your right side. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Fire Hydrants are excellent hip mobility exercises that target the hip abductors. They can help improve hip flexibility and range of motion, specifically in abduction.
Fire Hydrants are some of the best hip mobility exercises for improving hip strength, balance, and range of motion, making them valuable for various activities, including sports and everyday movements.
Steps to follow
- Get into a tabletop position, with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keep your spine in a neutral position.
- Gently engage your core muscles to stabilize your lower back and pelvis.
- Lift one knee out to the side while keeping your foot flexed and your knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Imagine lifting your knee as high as possible without compromising your form.
- Hold the lifted position briefly to engage your hip muscles fully.
- Slowly lower your knee to your starting position, but don’t let it touch the floor.
- Perform the same movement for several repetitions on one leg before switching to the other leg.
90/90 Hip Stretch
The 90/90 Hip Stretch is one of the potent hip mobility exercises that targets the external rotation and flexion of the hip joints. It can help improve hip flexibility, increase range of motion, and alleviate hip tightness.
This 90/90 Hip Stretch is valuable for people looking to enhance their hip mobility for activities that require rotational hip movement, such as sports, martial arts, or dance. They are some of the best hip mobility exercises that can help improve your performance in activities that involve lateral or rotational movements of the hips.
Steps to follow
- Sit on the floor with your legs bent at 90 degrees, creating an “L” shape with your legs in front of you.
- Rotate your hips to one side so that one knee points forward and the other points to the side. Ensure your feet and respective knees are in line.
- Lean forward from your hips while keeping your chest and spine upright. Focus on reaching your chest toward your forward knee. The movement should create a gentle stretch in the hip of the leg pointing forward.
- Hold the position for about 15-30 seconds, feeling the stretch in the hip and inner thigh areas.
- Sit back up and return to your starting position with both knees at 90 degrees.
- Repeat the movement on the opposite side by rotating your hips so the other knee points forward. Lean forward to feel the stretch.
- You can perform the 90/90 Hip Stretch on both sides multiple times to enhance your hip mobility.
Dynamic Lunge Stretch
The Dynamic Lunge Stretch combines a lunge position with dynamic movements to warm up and increase the mobility in the hip flexors, hip extensors, and quadriceps.
It is one of the potent hip mobility exercises that can help prepare your hips for activities that involve dynamic hip movements, such as running, jumping, or sports.
They are also some of the best hip mobility exercises for dynamically stretching the hip flexors while simultaneously engaging the hip extensors.
Steps to follow
- Step forward with one foot and lower your body into a lunge position. Ensure you bend your front knee at 90 degrees, with your knee aligned over your ankle.
- Engage your core muscles.
- Push through your front foot from the lunge position to return to a standing position. As you push up, lift your rear foot off the ground and bring your knee toward your chest, like you are running in place.
- Immediately step forward with the opposite foot just as your rear foot returns to the floor and perform the same dynamic movement.
- Keep alternating legs and perform the dynamic lunge stretch for 5-10 minutes.
- Maintain a smooth and controlled pace while breathing rhythmically throughout the exercise.
Benefits of hip mobility exercises
Hip mobility exercises offer several benefits, helping to enhance your well-being and physical performance.
- Improved Range of Motion
Hip mobility exercises can help increase the flexibility and range of motion in the joints.
That can lead to improved movement patterns and greater ease in performing various activities.
- Reduced Risk of Injury
Enhanced hip mobility can help prevent injuries by allowing your body to move more efficiently and distribute forces evenly.
That can reduce the strain on other body sections, such as the lower back and knees, which may compensate for limited hip mobility.
- Better Posture
Improved hip mobility can lead to better posture by allowing the pelvis to sit in a more neutral and balanced position.
That can alleviate lower back pain and discomfort associated with poor posture.
- Enhanced Athletic Performance
Athletes in various sports, including running, cycling, and martial arts, benefit from increased hip mobility.
It enables them to generate more power and move with greater agility and efficiency.
- Increased Core Strength
Many hip mobility exercises engage the core muscles, helping to strengthen the abdominal and lower back muscles.
A strong core is essential for stability and balance.
- Pain Relief
Targeted hip mobility exercises can help reduce muscle tightness and improve joint function for people with hip pain or discomfort.
- Better Functional Movement
Daily activities involving walking, sitting, and standing require better hip mobility.
Hip mobility exercises can help make these movements more comfortable and less prone to strain.
- Enhanced Circulation
Hip mobility exercises can promote blood flow to the hip joint and surrounding muscles.
That can contribute to better tissue health and recovery.
- Injury Rehabilitation
Hip mobility exercises are often part of the rehabilitation program for those with hip injury or surgery.
They can help them regain strength and function.
Final words from LiveLIfe
Neglecting the mobility in your hips can lead to discomfort, pain, and limitations in your daily activities. However, you can resolve that by incorporating hip mobility exercises into your training regimen.
Improving hip mobility is not just for athletes or those with existing hip issues. It is a practice that benefits everyone, regardless of age or fitness level.
It can help people with a sedentary lifestyle, spend long hours sitting at a desk, or engage in sports and activities that require hip mobility.
To maximize the benefits of hip mobility exercises, choose a variety that targets different aspects of hip mobility, such as flexion, extension, abduction, and rotation.
Consult a fitness expert or medical personnel if you are unsure or have concerns.
- Konrad, A., Močnik, R. et al. 2021. The Influence of Stretching the Hip Flexor Muscles on Performance Parameters. A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Feb; 18(4). doi: 10.3390/ijerph18041936 1936.