The common refrain in any runner’s life is this: “My hips are SOOOO tight!” Unlike ultra-bendy yogis, pavement-pounders have ongoing issues with stiff muscles from head-to-toe. And the area just below the elastic of your leggings, your hip flexors, may be one of the creakiest spots in your bod.
As David Siik, founder and creator of Precision Running, previously told Well+Good, tight hips can cause a domino effect throughout your overall physical health. If you don’t make a point of stretching out your hip flexors on the reg, muscle tightness can lead to lack of blood flow to that area, leaving you open to injuries.
I get it, I get it: stretching, foam rolling, and other ways to relax stressed out muscles can be time consuming. But getting sidelined by hips that just won’t budge is way worse than spending some time in pigeon pose. Am I right?
The best hip stretches for runners, according to experts
1. 10-minute fast (but effective!) hip stretch
Grab your yoga mat and a lacrosse ball for this quickie hip session that will ease your muscles after a long, tough run. For extra entertainment value, the runner behind this vid changes his hat with each stretch. So you’ll see you’ll get to LOL through a beanie, a baseball cap, and a fishing hat and come out on the other side stretched out.
2. Low-lunge love
If you only have time for one stretch, make it this low-lunge. Yoga-goers will recognize this one from their practice, and all the same rules apply: keep the knee bent directly above the ankle, neutralize the low back by engaging the core, and try to keep the weight distribution even in the front and back legs.
3. A sport medicine doctor’s favorite static stretches
As Dusty Marie Narducci, MD, a sports medicine fellow at The Mayo Clinic, explains, static stretching belongs after your run. Her personal favorites include butterfly stretch, thread the needle, and hamstring-targeting moves that will also help your aching hips.
4. All-in-one, 10-minute stretch
In just 10 minutes, you can clear out all the tightness of your miles-long run. In this video, you’ll hit your hips and other major muscle groups that make your PR possible.
5. A physical therapist’s go-tos
“Doctor Jo,” PT, a physical therapist says that she tells clients to turn to seven specific stretches that target hip tightness. Her sequence will loosen up all the muscles around your hips, so you don’t need to worry about leaving one out of the equation. Basically, she’s taking care of everything—so trust the process and feel your mid-region release.
6. A kinesiologist’s most-prized hip stretches
Kinesiologist and movement coach Eric Wong, BSc, takes a non-static approach to unwinding your hips. Instead, his require muscular activation to go in deep on the areas the you may have been neglecting. One such move, the “BJJ Quad,” will kinda make you look like you’re break dancing. So keep an open mind about these five unusual, but effective stretches.
7. Hip stretches, but make it yoga
If you want make your running recovery feel more blissful and relaxation-minded, try this 10-minute sequence that’s all about your hips. You’ll move through oldie-but-goldies, like butterfly and low lunge, as well as asanas you may have yet to discover.
8. Try an origami stretch
A physiologist associated with The National Health Service says that the origami stretch is one to memorize for both your thighs and hip flexors. To do it, simply lie on your side and tuck your knees in toward your chest. Then bend your top knee so you can catch it with your top hand. Bonus: you’ll feel the stretch in your quad, too.
9. Warrior yoga stretches for battle-ready hips
In case you didn’t know, both Warrior I and Warrior II are active poses that stretch out your hips. If you can count the number of times you’ve stepped onto a yoga mat on one hand, don’t sweat it. Yoga teacher and Well+Good trainer of the month, Valerie Verdier, will guide you toward sweet, sweet hip-centric relief.
10. Stretches that require zero equipment
Usually, the two trainers behind HASFit can be found jumping up and down during energetic workouts. Even they need to slow down though. And when they do, this 15-minute hip stretching routine is there go-to. One stretch involves lying on your back and flapping your legs like a butterfly’s wings (which looks silly, but feels like heaven).
11. Hip stretches for better overall flexibility
To improve your overall flexibility over time, make this yogi’s vid your hip-stretching bible. Repeat the same sequence again and again and watch your bendiness go from a 3 to a 10.
Before you set off on your run, try this warm up:
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