Most of us are spending our days sitting way more than the human body was designed for, and this leads to tightness, pain, and weakness in the hip flexors and outer hip muscles like the tensor fascia latae (TFL), piriformis, and gluteus medius and minimus. What’s worse, unresolved tightness in the hips can lead to bad posture, causing pain and tightness in the back, hamstrings, neck, and shoulders.
Adding in a regular stretching routine helps keep your whole body loose, limber, and feeling good all around. Practice these 10 soothing stretches twice a day to reverse damage caused by excess sitting. From a standing forward fold to a gentle pigeon pose to open up tight hip flexors, these simple stretches are just what your achy muscles need.
Standing Forward Fold | 30 sec
This stretch reverses tightness through the hips, hamstrings, and lower back caused by too much sitting.
- Begin standing with your feet hip-width distance apart.
- Bend your knees generously and fold forward, bringing your hands all the way to the ground.
- Keep a nice big bend in your knees and let your head and shoulders hang heavy. Shift your weight slightly towards your toes and hold for at least 30 seconds.
IT Band Fold | 30 sec per side
A forward fold variation that gets into the outer hip muscles like the TFL, piriformis, and gluteus medius.
- Start in your forward fold. Keep the knees as bent as much as they need to be in order to keep your hands on the floor the whole time.
- Walk your hands over to the right and gently press your hips over to the left. Allow your head and shoulders to hang heavy and hold for 30 seconds. You should feel a stretch through the outer left hip.
- Then, walk your hands back to center and over to the left to repeat on the other side.
Butterfly | 30 sec
This gentle stretch relieves tightness in the hip flexors, inner thighs, and outer hips.
- Start in a seat.
- Bring the soles of your feet together to touch and allow your knees to open out wide. Interlace your hands underneath your feet and press your thighs open with your forearms.
- Take a deep breath in to lengthen your spine and then exhale to fold forward. Allow your head and shoulders to relax and hold for at least 30 seconds.
Around the World | 30 sec per side
Soothe any pain and stiffness in the outer hip opener with this easy stretch.
- Start seated in your butterfly position.
- Keep your right shin forward and sweep your left leg out and back, bringing 45- to 90-degree angles in both knees. Flex both feet.
- Square your shoulders off to your right shin, then slowly walk your hands forward, lowering to your forearms. Place a yoga block or pillow under your forehead and relax here for 30 seconds. Switch sides.
Pigeon | 30 sec per side
A deep, feel-good stretch that opens up the outer hips and hip flexors.
- Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Pick up your right leg and bring the shin forward, lining up your right knee behind your right wrist. Flex your toes.
- Straighten your left leg back behind you, pointing the toes. You should feel a stretch through the outer right hip.
- Stay here or for more, walk your hands forward and lower to your forearms or all the way down to your forehead. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Runner’s Lunge | 30 sec per side
Reverse the hip flexor tightness with this classic pose.
- Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees.
- Step your right foot outside of your right hand. Press your hips forward. Then heel-toe your right foot forward a couple of inches so that the ankle is slightly in front of the knee. Turn your toes out at a 45-degree angle.
- You should feel a nice stretch through the hips. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Happy Baby | 30 sec
A gentle hip opener that soothes your outer and inner hips.
- Lay down face up.
- Pick up your feet and bend your knees. Bring your arms inside of your thighs and grab ahold of your ankles or feet. Make sure to keep your sacrum—the very lowest part of your back—down. Flex your feet.
- Hold here to feel a stretch through your hips, then take a few rocks side-to-side to massage your lower back on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds.
Supine Figure 4 | 30 sec per side
Stretch your tension away with this soothing hip opener.
- Lie down face up on your mat with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
- Cross your right ankle over your left thigh and flex your right foot.
- Pick up your left arm and thread your right arm between your legs. Interlace your hands behind your left thigh. Hug your left leg in towards your body to feel a stretch in your right hip. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Supine Internal Rotation | 30 sec per side
This stretch will improve your internal rotational mobility and release tight hip muscles.
- Start lying down face up with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
- Heel-toe your right foot to the right until your foot is off the mat, then lower your knee inward. Look up and make sure your right knee is in line with your hip and flex the foot.
- Then, place your left ankle on top of your outer right thigh and point the left knee to the left. You should feel a stretch through the outer right hip. If you feel any pinching in the knee, take your left foot off of your right. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Release tightness in the outer hips and lower back while improving the mobility of the spine.
- Sit on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Bend your left knee and bring your left heel towards your right glute. The outside of your left leg should be touching the floor. Then, cross your right leg over your left, placing your right foot on the floor outside of your left thigh.
- Tent your right fingers behind your right hip. Wrap your left arm around the front of your right shin and exhale as you twist your spine to the right. Hold here for 30 seconds and gaze over your right shoulder. Switch sides.
Your Next Workout: 9 Gentle Stretches to Release Upper Back Pain