One of the first places to get tight in your body—from both sitting and working out—is your hips. Trainer Charlee Atkins previously told Well+Good that most people externally rotate their hips all of the time, but forget to internally rotate them—which is important for better hip mobility. So, hip-targeted stretches are essential for loosening that area up. While most either stretch your hips internally or externally, the 90-90 hip stretch does both at once.
“The 90-90 stretch is a multitasking stretch for a handful of muscles in and around the hip,” says Amanda Freeman, co-founder and CEO of Stretch*d. “Depending on which leg you are leaning towards, you could be stretching your gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, piriformis, hip abductors, hip adductors, or hip flexors.” Basically, the stretch is a combo of a pigeon pose (with the front leg) and an internal hip rotation with the back leg.
Freeman points out that the majority of people have limited hip mobility, which is why this stretch is a good one to incorporate in your recovery regimen. “The 90-90 stretch approaches the challenge of increasing hip mobility with a multi-pronged approach. It stretches so many muscle groups at once, so it’s ultra efficient,” she says. And, since it involves an internal rotation of your hip, you’re working your pelvic muscles through their full range of motion as well.
The 90-90 stretch is best for after a workout or when your body’s already warmed up. “Start with the set-up of the front leg,” says Freeman. This involves placing your front knee in front of your body, behind your wrist on the same side. Your knee should be pointed forward with your shin and ankle in line with a 90-degree bend with the front knee, and your back knee in a 90-degree angle behind you. The back knee should be in line with your hip with your shin and ankle straight below.
“If you are flexibility-challenged, consider sticking with just the front leg bend stretch for several attempts until you can achieve it deeply and pain-free,” says Freeman, who recommends then trying the back leg bend with some props for assistance. Once you’re all set up, exhale and bend forward as much as you can to get deeper into the stretch, then switch sides. You’ll feel a whole lot of added space in your hip joint once you’re done.
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