Tight hips plague many a runner. The repetitive movement of lifting your knee, stepping forward and then pushing off the ground causes these muscles to tighten up, leading to a host of potential problems.
Resistant hips can be the instigator for pain in your lower back, angry knees, stiff hamstrings and numbing tightness in the iliotibial (IT) band. Sometimes, you can even blame your hips for overuse injuries farther down the kinetic chain, including Achilles tendinitis and shin splints.
Stretch your hips after a run to improve their range of motion and prevent them from becoming a liability.
Hip Flexor Stretch
The hip flexors are at the front your hips and attach your legs to your back. They help lift your knees every time you take a stride forward. In runners, tight hip flexors can cause irritation and lead to back pain.
You'll recognize this stretch as a kneeling lunge.
Kneel on a mat and place your right foot forward into a lunge. Make sure the front foot is placed far enough forward, so the knee balances over the ankle.
Keep the sole of the right foot entirely in connection with the mat as you lean slightly forward to feel a stretch in the front of your left hip. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch sides. During the stretch, you hands could rest on the floor on either side of your foot or on the top of the right thigh.
Read More: Sore Knees and Hips From Running
Standing Wide-Leg Forward Fold
The standing wide-leg forward fold benefits the back of your hips, as well as your hamstrings. It's often easier on tight hamstrings that a standard forward fold.
Stand with your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Inhale and place your hands on your hips.
Exhale as you hinge forward from your hips. Focus on bending from the place where your legs attach to your torso, rather than rounding through the back and waist.
Release your hands to the floor. Bend your knees if it's too intense on the backs of your thighs. If the floor is too hard to reach, place a yoga block or stack of books under your hands to provide support. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds.
The butterfly stretch gets at the inner groin and outer hips, stretching both hips simultaneously. If you're particularly tight, it might feel uncomfortable, so place pillows or yoga blocks underneath your thighs to make the stretch more gentle.
Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together and your knees pointing to the sides of the room.
Inhale and sit up tall. Exhale and lean forward, aiming your chest toward the inside of your feet. Hold for about 20 seconds. Avoid rounding your spine.
Pigeon stretch borrows from yoga and effectively stretches your hip, particularly the deep piriformis muscle that can often cause symptoms of sciatica.
If the position detailed below hurts your knee, modify it by lying on your back. Bend your right knee and place the foot on the floor. Cross your left ankle over your right knee and hold to get a similar stretch that's less aggravating to your knee.
Get into all fours on a mat. Bring your right foot forward to your right hand for a modified lunge.
Slowly walk your right foot across the mat so it's behind your left wrist. Lay your shin down so the right knee is behind the right wrist.
Breathe in and, as you exhale, walk your hands forward until you feel the stretch in the outer right hip. You can go as far as to lie your chest down flat, or anywhere in between.
Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch legs.
Read More: Lower Back Muscle Pain from Running