7 Essential Hip Flexor Stretches

Stretch your hip flexors with these moves

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The hip flexors are a group of muscles that help you move your lower body. You have hip flexors on either side of your body. They include the rectus femoris, iliacus, psoas, iliocapsularis, and sartorius muscles, which allow you to bend at the hips, lift your knees, and swivel your hips from side to side.

Hip flexor stretches may be helpful to people who experience tight hips. Whether you have a sedentary or active lifestyle, the hips can feel tight due to prolonged sitting or exercise. Tight hip flexors can cause lower back tightness, neck and back stiffness, and pain in your glutes.

Opening up and relaxing the muscles in the hips and upper thighs help encourage proper movement and use of this area, preventing injury. Try the ones below to see if they bring relief.

Benefits of Stretching

While the research is not clear on whether or not stretching can help prevent injuries that doesn't mean it is not important. There are plenty of other benefits to stretching and flexibility training.

For instance, stretching consistently can improve your joint range of motion and flexibility. It also impacts your coordination and balance, which will help keep you mobile and less prone to injury from falls, especially as you get older. Stretching can even improve your posture and can minimize discomfort.

Stretching can even improve your circulation. Getting the blood flowing to your muscles helps your body get rid of waste in the muscle tissue and can help shorten your recovery time if you've had any muscle injuries.

Stretching Safely

While many people are aware of the need to stretch to relieve tightness or if your muscles or hip flexors are sore from sitting, it is a step that is often skipped. To improve your flexibility, range of motion, and even get the most out of your workouts—especially one that heavily involves the lower body and requires ample flexibility—always remember to stretch the hip flexors and related muscle groups.

In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends stretching 2 to 3 times per week.

Gradually, work your way up to daily stretching, to avoid injury and get your body used to the new movement. Typically, you should hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat it 2 to 4 times.

Keep in mind, that you should not do these hip flexor stretches if they cause you any pain or if you have injuries. Seek the care of a physical therapist or another healthcare professional if you are in pain or if these stretches do not ease discomfort.

7 Hip Flexor Stretches

  • Standing lunge stretch
  • Keeling hip flexor stretch
  • Seated butterfly stretch
  • Basic bridge
  • Lying hip flexor stretch
  • Reclined hip stretch
  • Low lunge twist stretch

Standing Lunge Stretch

Woman performing standing lunge stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Lunges are not just great exercises for the legs and glutes, they can also serve as a hip flexor stretch. You should feel the standing lunge stretch in your hip flexors, groin, and inner thighs.

  1. Stand up straight with your arms at your side.
  2. Place your hands on your hips or on your forward knee. 
  3. Take a step forward with your right foot so you are standing in a split stance.
  4. Lower your right knee so it is at a 90-degree angle. Your left leg is extended straight back behind you.
  5. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  6. Release and repeat on the other side.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Woman doing a kneeling hip flexor stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

For a deeper stretch, try the kneeling hip flexor stretch. You’ll need an exercise mat or soft surface to do this stretch. Here’s how:

  1. On a yoga mat or exercise mat, kneel on both knees. Your bottom should be on the heels of your feet with the balls of your feet pressed firmly against the mat.
  2. Lean forward and press your palms to the mat. Hands should be shoulder-width apart and elbows should be bent slightly to prevent them from locking.
  3. Bring your left knee forward through the gap between your arms and place your left foot flat on the mat in front of you, creating a 90-degree angle.
  4. Straighten your upper body and place both of your hands on your left knee in front of you for support and balance.
  5. Extend your right leg behind you. Your right knee should be pressed into the mat and the top of your right foot is rested on the mat.
  6. Lean forward slightly to deepen the stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  7. Exit the stretch and repeat on the other side.

Seated Butterfly Stretch

Woman doing a seated butterfly stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The seated butterfly stretch is a basic stretch that opens up the hips, thighs, and groin. This stretch is excellent for runners or people who want to improve the flexibility in their lower body. Here’s how to do the butterfly stretch:

  1. Begin in a seated position with your legs in front of you.
  2. Grab your ankles and bring your feet closer to your groin. If needed, do this one leg at a time.
  3. Bring both feet together, so the bottoms of your feet are touching. 
  4. Continue to hold your ankles with your hands while using your elbows to press down on your knees.
  5. Apply gentle pressure to the knees to get closer to the floor.
  6. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds before releasing and repeating if needed.

Basic Bridge

Woman performing basic bridge stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Basic bridges are often used as glute exercises, but you can also use them to help open up the hips. This is how to do them to really target the hip flexors:

  1. Lie on your back on an exercise mat or soft surface. Keep your hands at your sides and your knees bent. 
  2. Raise your hips. Your shoulders and feet should be flat on the floor, creating a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  3. When you reach the top of this stretch, lift one foot off the floor at a time. This causes the hips to flex.
  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Then switch to the other side.

Lying Hip Flexor Stretch

Woman doing an advanced lying hip flexor stretch with a resistance band

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Hip flexion exercises can be performed seated or standing. It’s a beginner-friendly stretch that causes the hips to flex by moving the legs. Here’s how to do lying hip flexion stretches:

  1. Lie flat on the ground. You should stretch out your legs with your toes pointed up. Keep your hands at your sides.
  2. Bend your left knee and slowly bring it to your chest. As your knee draws nearer, wrap your hands around your knee. 
  3. Gently pull your knee as close to your chest as possible. To make the stretch more challenging, straighten your leg and pull it closer to you with a resistance band. Rotate your hips to deepen the stretch.
  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  5. Release the stretch and repeat on the right side.

Reclined Hip Stretch

Woman performing reclined hip stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The reclined hip stretch is also known as the Figure Four Piriformis Stretch. It is considered a pilates stretch, but you can incorporate it into your hip flexor stretching routine. Follow these instructions to perform this move:

  1. Lie on your back on a yoga mat. Bend your knees, so your feet are flat on the floor.
  2. Bring your right knee closer to your chest, lifting your right foot off the mat.
  3. Bring your left knee and rotate your left leg outward at the hip. Rest your left ankle on your right thigh above the knee.
  4. Deepen the stretch by grasping your hands behind your right thigh and pulling gently. You should feel this stretch in your left hip.
  5. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Low Lunge Twist Stretch

Woman performing low lunge twist stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The low lunge twist stretch is a beginner-friendly stretch that opens up the hips and low back. If you’ve been sitting for an extended period or need to stretch before exercising, this is an excellent stretch to relax tight muscles in the hips and back. To do this stretch, follow these steps:

  1. Start in a forward lunge position. Your right leg should be forward.
  2. Drop your left knee to the ground, so your shin and the top of your left foot are pressed against the floor.
  3. Gently press your right elbow into the inside of your right knee. Twist your torso to the left. As you twist to the left, extend your left arm behind you.
  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  5. Release the stretch and repeat on the other side.

A Word From Verywell

You should not ignore tight hips. To keep the hips fully functional and free of pain, stay active by doing exercises involving the hips and performing hip flexor stretches regularly. 

It is imperative to stretch throughout the day if you have a sedentary lifestyle or job that requires you to sit for long periods. Hip-opening stretches are also recommended before running, strength training, and playing sports. If tight hips persist, check with your doctor or physical therapist.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mansfield PJ, Neumann DA. Fundamentals of human gait. In: Essentials of Kinesiology for the Physical Therapist Assistant. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier; 2019:351-367. doi:10.1016/B978-0-323-54498-6.00012-6

  2. International Sports Sciences Association. How to Identify and Correct Tight Hip Flexors.

  3. American Council on Exercise. 10 reasons why you should be stretching.

  4. Page P. Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitationInt J Sports Phys Ther. 2012;7(1):109-119. PMID:22319684

By Lacey Muinos
Lacey Muinos is a professional writer who specializes in fitness, nutrition, and health.