Woman in black leggings and a white top standing with one leg in front of her bent at the knee and the other stretched out behind her and her head tilted towards the sky with leaves on the ground and a long tunnel of trees behind her.

Hip mobility exercises are a great way to improve your stability and flexibility while also helping to reduce pain and build strength in your hips, legs, and back.

Improving hip mobility can help you to have less pain when walking, sitting, sleeping, etc., and can keep you moving and doing the things you love for longer. These simple exercises can be done at home or at the gym to start improving your flexibility, building your hip strength, and protecting your mobility so you can stay in the game.

Hip Stretches

A key part of any mobility workout is stretching. While you should always do a full-body stretch as part of your warm-up routine, we’ve put together 4 hip-specific stretches to spend additional time in outside of your regular warm-up stretching.

These stretches can be incorporated with your hip mobility exercises as an extended aspect of your warmup and cool down or in-between exercises as a way to keep your hip muscles loose as you work on building strength and increasing your hip flexibility to take advantage of a full range of motion.

Figure 4 Stretch

Woman in grey yoga pants and a pale blue top lying on a dark wooden floor with her legs in a figure 4 position.

The figure 4 stretch is a position commonly used in yoga practices to target the outside of your hip as well as your glutes. 

You can do this stretch standing, but it’s best to start on your back and build some flexibility in the hip before bringing in the added challenge of balancing on one foot. 

  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Raise your left leg straight up into the air and take a small hamstring stretch.
  3. Bend your knee and rotate it outward to lay your left foot over your right knee and make the figure 4 shape with your legs.
  4. Thread your left hand between your legs, grab the back of your right thigh, and let your right foot come off the ground.
  5. Pull your right leg towards your chest and feel the stretch in your left hip.
  6. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  7. Switch legs and repeat.

 

Butterfly Stretch

Man in black leggings and a green muscle shirt sitting on the floor of a gym in a butterfly position.

The butterfly stretch is a great hip release stretch that you can do first thing in the morning and right before bed as well as in your mobility workout to help keep your hips fluid and pain-free. 

  1. Sit on your mat with your feet a palms length in front of you, soles pressed against each other, and knees out wide. 
  2. Lengthen your spine and sit up tall as you breathe in.
  3. Hinge from your hips and slowly lean forward as you exhale. 
  4. Continue to lengthen through the spine with each inhale and reach forward into the stretch with each exhale for 30-45 seconds.
  5. Slowly bring your upper body back up to the starting position.

 

Frog Stretch

A digital rendering of a woman in black leggings and a light blue top against a white background on her knees and forearms showing the frog stretch position from two angles.

The frog stretch is an excellent way of stretching your inner thighs and groin muscles as well as your lower back and even your shoulders. 

This stretch is a bit more intense than others as the force of your body weight will naturally push you deeper into the stretch, so be conscious of what your body is capable of and listen to your limits. Don’t be afraid to make alterations and accommodations by using yoga blocks, pillows, towels, or whatever else you need to help you be more comfortable in your frog stretch.

  1. Start on your hands and knees with any pillows, towels, or blocks set up under your shoulders. 
  2. Point your toes out as you begin to spread your knees out to the side, keeping your shins at 90 degrees as you lower down onto your elbows and forearms. 
  3. Feel free to gently move your body up and back keeping your knees and feet anchored to bring motion into the hip joint as you hold the stretch for 30-45 seconds.

 

Pigeon Stretch

Woman in white yoga attire on a grey yoga mat holding her back foot in a pigeon pose.

One of the best parts about the pigeon stretch is that it offers a deep hip flexor stretch with a number of variations available based on your ability and to target specific sections of the hips. 

For the purposes of this workout, we’ll stick with the standard half pigeon. You can enter into your pigeon stretch from a seated position, but if you’ve done a fair amount of yoga in the past, you may feel more comfortable entering into your pigeon stretch from a downward dog position.

  1. From a seated position, place your right leg out in front of you with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle and your shin flat on the mat. 
  2. Bring your left leg behind you with your knee pointing down and your toes pointing backward in a straight line with your leg. Use a hand towel or small pillow 
  3. Brace yourself with your hands as you sink into the stretch and hold your torso tall. 
  4. Here you can choose to move into a variation by bending your left knee and reaching overhead with your right arm to hold your left foot or bending forward over your right leg similarly to the fold in the butterfly stretch.
  5. Hold your final pose for 30-45 seconds and return to the start position.

 

Hip Strengthening Exercises

Now that you’ve loosened up your hip muscles with a good round of stretches, it’s time to start building up your hip strength. These exercises target the muscles responsible for motions that involve hip flexions, hip rotations, and leg extensions.

Hip CARs

Two women in black workout attire each with one leg up with the thigh horizontal to the ground and the knee bent.

Controlled Articular Rotations are specialized movements that target the full range of motion of a joint and the muscles and tendons that facilitate that movement. Not only do they help improve your hip mobility but your stability and balance as well. 

CARs should always be done slowly with form and fluidity of motion at the forefront of your focus. For hip CARs, you will want to hold onto something for stability, a chair, countertop, or even just a wall, though you will also want enough room to perform the full range of motion so a post or a convex corner will work best.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your legs straight as you hold onto your support point.
  2. Bring your leg up to reach your knee across your body towards the opposite hip and squeeze. 
  3. Bring the knee up to your chest and squeeze your leg to your torso with your arms.
  4. Release your leg and slowly lower it back down so that your thigh is level at hip height and your shin is perpendicular to your thigh. 
  5. Maintain the position of your knee as you slowly swing your leg out to the side, careful not to bend forward or rotate your torso.
  6. Keeping your knee at a 90-degree angle, rotate your thigh and lift your foot back and up, again, try not to lean forward. 
  7. Lower your leg back down so your thighs are together and your foot is behind you as you keep that same bend in the knee.
  8. Reverse and move back through the motion in the opposite direction. 
  9. Switch legs and repeat. 
  10. Repeat for 10 reps. 
  11. Repeat for 2 sets.

 

Single-Leg Deadlift

Woman in black shorts and a pink top in standing in the start up straight in the start position and a second image of the same woman bent over with one leg in the air in the bottom position of a single-leg deadlift.

Single-leg deadlifts help to build strength throughout the whole leg as well as your back and core, helping to improve balance and stability as well as mobility. 

You can use whatever type of weight you prefer for this exercise including dumbbells, kettlebells, and plates. The important thing is that you can easily grip the weight with one hand and maintain balance on one foot through the motion of the deadlift.

  1. Set your stance with your feet hip-width apart and a weight in your right hand.
  2. Keep your right leg straight but not locked as you lean forward allowing the weight to come towards the ground as your lift your left leg back behind you keeping your back straight and your chest lifted.
  3. Pause to let the weight touch the ground or at the bottom of your range of motion before reversing the motion and returning to the start position.
  4. Repeat for 10 reps on each side
  5. Repeat for 2 sets.

 

Cossack Squat

Woman in black leggings and long sleeve shirt leaning heavily to one side with the knee bent and the opposite leg stretched out to the side in a Cossack squat.

Cossack squats are a fun and challenging variation of traditional squats that adds a larger range of hip motions with the extension of one leg and the switching of the position at the bottom of the squat when your muscles are under the most tension. 

You can do Cossack squats while holding a weight, but to start, it’s best to have your hands free in case you need to catch yourself. On that note, it’s also important to make sure that you are doing these in a space where you are not going to accidentally run into anything should you lose your balance and fall over. 

  1. Settle into a wide stance with your feet wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Bend your right knee and bring your upper body over to the right as you lower down to one side with your left leg stretched out to the side. 
  3. Pause at the bottom of the motion and squeeze your glutes and hip flexors.
  4. Shift your weight from your right leg to your left leg as you bend your left leg and straighten your right leg to switch sides.
  5. Drive through the heel of your left leg and return to the start position, squeezing your glutes, hips, and lower back again at the top as you would in a normal squat. 
  6. Repeat with the opposite leg.
  7. Repeat for 10 reps. 
  8. Repeat for 2 sets.

 

Leg Swings

Two women wearing workout attire standing in a living room with one leg stretched up in a high kick.

Leg swings are an excellent way to close out your mobility workout and gauge your improvement from one workout to the next. 

This is another exercise where you will want to hold onto something for support and stability. You might want to do your leg swings next to a wall where you can measure and track how high you can raise your leg. 

  1. Stand up straight with one hand on your support and your swinging leg to the outside. 
  2. Lift your outside leg as high as you can while keeping your knee straight and without rotating your pelvis or bending your back.
  3. Let your leg fall back to the ground and swing through the motion as far as you can in the opposite direction.
  4. Repeat for 15-20 reps.
  5. Switch legs and repeat for another 15-20 reps.

 

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