Unlock Tight Hip Flexors (and Shave Time Off Your Mile) With These Mobility Moves

Photo: Getty Images/FatCamera
We get it: Sometimes, you get the urge to lace up your sneakers and just dart straight out the door. But taking a few extra minutes to warm up your body can make the difference between a "meh" run and a really great one. So to make sure your hips are primed and ready for the miles ahead, running coach Meg Takacs compiled a few hip mobility exercises runners don't want to miss.

Hip mobility—the capacity to move your hips in their full range of motion—is kind of like a superpower for runners. "Stride length and stride frequency are the two components of speed," writes Takacs on recent Instagram post. "To get more strides in your gait pattern you want a more explosive knee drive. The stronger your hip flexors the stronger the drive." Makes sense, right?

Experts In This Article
  • Pamela Trujillo, certified personal trainer and SLT Tread training manager

Pamela Trujillo, SLT Tread program director, adds that making sure your hips feel free and ready to run will also help you reserve your energy since your gait will be more efficient. So if you're in the mood to go long distance, it's particularly important to prioritize a solid warmup that will serve you as you put one foot in front of the other. 

In addition to opening up your hips, Trujillo also notes that it's important for pavement-pounders to warm up their glutes. "The primary role of the gluteus maximus is hip extension. If a runner lacks adequate hip extension, the glutes will most likely be underactive, which could cause runners to overcompensate by hyperextending their lumbar spine," she explains. And thus, strong glutes and hip mobility together will help you stay in touch with your signature running form and prevent injury.

Ready to unlock your running superpower? Try Takacs' six-move, pre-run hip mobility workout.

6 hip mobility exercises for runners who want to up their speed

1. Sliding frog pose

For this move, you'll need a yoga block and two sliders (or towels) on a wooden floor. Come to your hands and knees with one kneecap on each towel. Grip your hands on the block, which should be directly below your shoulders. Slide your knees apart to your full range of motion; at the same time, dip your chest down towards the ground so you're in a tricep push-up position. Engage your core to lift back up to the starting position.

2. 90-90 side reach

Sit down on a yoga mat with your block. Place your left leg at a 90-degree angle behind you with your knee up on the block. Tuck your right leg so your foot is right in front of your pelvis. Place your left hand next to your left foot and extend your right arm straight up like an arrow. Slowly bend your upper body over to the left, feeling the stretch on your right side. (Try not to move your hips!) Switch sides.

3. Low lunge twist

Come into a short low lunge on your right side where your knee is farther forward than usual (a few inches in front of your toes). Place your hands and your right foot on props if that feels better for you, or go ahead and put both hands flat on the floor. On an inhale, reach your right fingertips up to the sky, spinning your chest to the side. Bring your hands back to center and repeat. Don't forget your left side.

4. Low tabletop hamstring extensions

Come onto your hands and knees. Bend your elbows and grip your hands together to rest on your lower arms, and then wiggle your feet and legs out to either side to get into a frog position. Extend your right leg in a straight line from your hip. Rock back and forth into the hamstring. Return to your starting position and repeat on the opposite side.

5. 90-90 hip extensions

Return to the starting position from move two. Engage your core to stand up onto your knees, flexing your hips forward. Lower back down and repeat on the opposite side.

6. Firelog

Come to seated. Stack your legs on top of one another so that they match up knee to foot, foot to knee. If your top foot doesn't quite reach your bottom knee, place a block or pillow between them. Sit up straight or, if it feels good in your body, fold forward. Repeat on the opposite side.

Now, you're ready to run: 

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