The hip abductor muscles include the gluteus medius, gluteus minimum, sartorius and tensor fascia latae (TFL) muscles of the buttocks and outer thigh. These muscles move the hip away from you in a sideways direction, which is called hip abduction. When these muscles are tight, it limits your hip mobility. Stretching the abductors several days a week or more will increase flexibility.
Standing Abductor Stretch
The standing abductor stretch is an easy way to target your abductors. Stand up tall, cross your right foot behind your left and bend from the waist toward the foot that's behind the other. This targets the hip abductors on the left side of your body. Holding on to a chair or placing your hands against a wall lets you easily maintain your balance. Twenty seconds is the right amount of time to hold this stretch, according to The Stretching Institute. The muscles on the right side of your body stretch the same way with your feet in the opposite positions.
Squatting Abductor Stretch
The squatting abductor stretch is also a standing stretch but isolates the TFL, small outer thigh muscles that originate on the iliac spine of the pelvis and attach to the tibia, which is a bone of the lower leg. Place your right hand against a wall and turn sideways. Step toward the wall with your left foot and bend your left knee while your right leg stays straight. This stretches the TFL on your left hip. The TFL is responsible not only for hip abduction but also hip flexion and internal rotation. After 20 seconds, turn around and stretch your right TFL.
Seated Hip Abductor Stretch
The seated hip abductor stretch lets you stretch your abductors while sitting so you don't have to worry about balance. It requires a little bit more coordination, and it is easier to slump your shoulders than when standing up. To perform the stretch for the left hip, sit on the floor with your right leg straight and your left leg bent with your left foot on the floor to the outside of your right knee. Twist your torso to the right and place your right triceps against the outside of your left thigh to push yourself further into the stretch. Stretch the right hip the same way with the opposite leg positions. Holding the stretch for a minimum of 20 seconds gives your muscles time to relax and lengthen.
Activities that Benefit From Hip Stretches
Abductor stretches make physical activities safer and improve your ability in various sports and physical activities such as hiking, mountaineering, football, soccer, biking, martial arts, skiing, ice skating and running.