Hip mobility may sound like something only older generations need to think about, but if you have a desk job, your hips are likely tight. Rather than staying put even longer to hold static stretches, dynamic stretching is the better option for warming up your hips and the muscles that support them.
That's especially true if you're stretching before a workout: Static stretching before exercise can actually make your muscles slower and less powerful, according to experts and research, including a January 2012 review in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. If performance is what you're after, dynamic stretching is a great way to not only warm up your muscles and joints but also elevate your heart rate.
If you have tight hips, you'll want to loosen up with hip flexor stretches and exercises. Dynamic hip flexor stretches should rotate, flex and extend your hips — in other words, you'll be moving your hips in all directions through their full range of motion.
These four hip stretches make a great movement break from your desk job, or you can do them all as a warm-up before a lower-body workout to boost your mobility and protect your hips.
1. 90/90 Hip Stretch
- Sit on the ground with one knee bent in front of you at 90 degrees and one knee bent behind you at 90 degrees.
- Lift both knees up and turn to face the leg behind you, keeping your heels planted on the ground.
- Keep switching back and forth.
As this stretch starts to feel easier, sit with your upper body more upright. Work up to lifting your arms off the ground.
2. Knee Grab
- Keeping your weight in your right leg, raise your left knee up toward the chest.
- Grasp your left shin with your hands.
- Pull your left leg toward your torso.
- Take a step forward with your left leg and repeat on the right side.
3. Hip Rotator
- Keeping your weight in your left leg, raise your right knee up toward the chest.
- Grasp your right knee with your right hand and your right ankle with your left hand.
- Pull the leg up toward your chest, feeling a stretch across your right glute.
- Gently release your right leg and take a step forward on your right leg.
- Raise your left leg and repeat.
4. Zombie Walk
- Take a step forward on your right leg.
- At the same time swing your left leg up, reaching for your left toes with your right hand.
- Control the leg on the swing down.
- Step forward on your left leg, repeating the motion on the other side.
What Causes Tight Hips?
- Sitting too much. When you're sitting at a desk all day, your hips are in a flexed position, which shortens the hip flexors and lengthens the glutes, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Aim to get up every 20 minutes or so throughout the day to stretch your hip flexors and improve your blood circulation, which will also help prevent tightness or knots.
- *Having a weak core. *According to the International Sports Science Association (ISSA), weak or undertrained core muscles contribute to tight hip flexors because your hip flexors will compensate for your lack of core strength in certain movements, like when you're walking, running or even doing squats. Be sure to train your core with planks, hollow holds and mountain climbers.
- Running a lot. Runners tend to use the hip flexors, particularly the iliopsoas, to lift their legs up with each stride. This repeated motion shortens the muscle instead of lengthening it, according to the ISSA. Balance your training by doing core and glute exercises, like bird dog and weighted squats, when you're not running.