How to Stretch to Loosen Up Your Hips
We have all felt it—the tightness in your lower back and hips after a long day of sitting at work. The pain and discomfort that comes from sitting, standing, exercising, and everything in between.
What can we do to prevent these constant pains? Incorporating stretching and frequent movement can improve your hip pain so you can run around with your kids, exercise, and accomplish daily tasks.
In this article, we’ll look at the causes of hip pain and explore several stretches to relieve hip tension.
Causes of Hip Pain and Tension
There are hundreds of reasons for tight hips and muscles. Different people can be prone to muscle soreness for countless reasons. Things like diet, sleep, exercise, and other factors all play a role in hip tightness. Stress, posture, and even environmental conditions can exacerbate hip pain.
Prolonged standing and prolonged sitting
Prolonged standing can cause hip tension due to added pressure and stress placed on your hip joints.
On the other hand, sitting for an extended period of time can also cause hip tightness and pain. Sitting for too long can result in the muscles around your hips stiffening and becoming tense. This tension happens because your legs are in the same position for too long.
Finding a balance between sitting and standing will help decrease hip pain. Taking brief walks during sedentary tasks and pausing to sit down when you've spent significant time on your feet will help manage the muscle tension in your hips.
Most of the time, you're probably not paying attention to your body's positioning, but it's worth taking note of throughout the day. Sitting with poor posture has a significant impact on your back, shoulder, neck, and hip muscles. Striving for proper posture can help decrease muscle tension, especially when you sit for hours at a time.
Not only does poor posture cause muscle tension throughout your body, it also inhibits the function of your respiratory and digestive systems. Sitting up tall can decrease back, shoulder, neck and hip pain while helping your internal systems function efficiently as well.
We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping. If we spend that much time in the same position, as many people do, it can cause severe muscle tension and hip pain. Sleeping in an awkward position for several nights in a row can also amplify hip tension.
Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to lessen the impact of a poor sleep position. If you are a side sleeper, try putting a pillow between your knees to keep your hips properly aligned while you sleep. You might also try putting a pillow under your hips to offer more support.
No single position works for everyone. Sleeping on your back tends to help support your spine and hips while sleeping, but that isn't comfortable for everyone. You may have to try out different sleep positions until you find one that is suitable for you.
Another cause of sleep-related hip pain includes having a poor mattress. When a mattress is too soft or even too hard, it puts stress on specific pressure points and muscle groups that can trigger hip pain. Trading out your mattress may be an excellent option to decrease frequent pains.
Stretches for Reducing Hip Pain
The importance of stretching extends to the care of our joints and muscles. There are thousands of stretches out there, and unfortunately, not all of them are safe.
Technique and form are equally important while you stretch and should always be approached carefully to avoid further straining your muscles or joints. Don't push yourself too hard; these stretches should be uncomfortable, but they should never cause pain.
For some easy hip exercises, check out this great resource.
Using a foam roller works to massage out any tension in your muscles by first loosening them. Rolling out your hips can decrease tension while loosening your hips.
Your hip flexors help you lift your legs and bend over, causing frequent tightness in this area. Before stretching, you can roll them out to decrease tightness.
To do this, lie on your stomach with the foam roller under your left hip. Place your forearms on the ground in front of you for support.
Bring your right leg out to the side, bent at the knee. With your left leg straight out behind you, flex your left toes and slowly roll your hip across the foam roller. Be gentle, especially when you find a very tight spot. Do this for about 30 seconds to one minute, then repeat on the other side.
Click here to see a video example (along with other ways to utilize the foam roller to loosen your hips).
Kneeling hip flexor stretch
This stretch is a great way to start your stretching because it warms up your hip flexors. Tight hip flexors often lead to lower back pain, so stretching them not only loosens your hips but decreases lower back pain.
To do this stretch, kneel on a yoga mat, towel, or even on the carpet. When kneeling, move your right leg forward so your right foot is on the floor and your right knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. You should now be in a kneeling lunge.
You can place your hands on your right (front) knee for support if you need it. Sitting up tall, with good posture, lean forward until you feel a stretch through your groin and hip flexor on your left (back) leg. Keep rocking back and forth slowly for 30 seconds to a minute.
Repeat this stretch on the other side.
For a video demonstration of this stretch, click here.
Seated hip flexor stretch
More often than not, hip flexors are tense, which can cause back and hip pain. The seated version is an excellent option if the kneeling hip flexor stretch and foam roller are too intense.
This stretch is also a great option if you are seated at your desk during the day and experiencing hip tension.
- Sit in a chair with both feet firmly on the floor.
- Sit up tall, with good posture.
- Bring your right leg up and cross your right ankle over your left knee.
While still sitting tall with a straight spine, slowly hinge at your hips and bend forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your right hip and glute muscle. To deepen the stretch, hinge further forward.
Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to a minute, and then repeat on the other side.
To see a video depiction of this stretch, click here.
This is a stretch that can help loosen your hips as well as the surrounding muscles.
In this stretch, you need to make sure you are using proper form and listening to your body. If you ever feel pain or severe discomfort, stop and move on to another stretch.
To start this stretch, sit on the floor with both of your legs straight out in front of you. Slowly bring the soles of your feet together, then try to bring your feet closer to your body.
To make this stretch more intense, while sitting with a straight back, slowly lean forward. If you can lean all the way forward, you can place your elbows on your thighs and press down.
It's important to choose whichever variation best suits you. Stretching is for you and your body, so it should feel good and never cause pain.
To see a video example of this stretch, click here.
Finally, child's pose is a great position to conclude a stretching session while continuing to relieve your hips.
Enter this stretch by kneeling on the floor with your feet together and knees apart. Slowly hinge at your hips and bring your torso to your knees. Bring your hands out in front of you and place your palms on the floor (or the mat, if you're using one).
While in this pose, focus on taking deep breaths and gradually relaxing deeper into the stretch.
For a video demonstration and step-by-step instructions of this stretch, click here.
Several factors can cause hip pain and muscle tension as we age. Addressing daily habits like avoiding prolonged sitting and standing, maintaining proper posture, and practicing healthy sleeping positions can help loosen up your hips and muscles and make you more comfortable.
If you are experiencing chronic or consistent hip pain, contact us at Altenburg for a full evaluation and assessment of any hip pain you may be experiencing. Addressing your body’s concerns now can save you a lifetime of discomfort.