A lot of us are in need of the stretches below because we have tight hips after sitting all day doing homework, work, or commuting. Even just a day, or two, or a few of sitting and relaxing on vacation can cause hip tightness and muscle pain. Never force your body in these stretches, but work with it to maintain safety in the positions. Check out the ten stretches below to help you relax and unwind that tired and tight hips.
1. Reclined Butterfly or Reclined Cobbler’s Pose
Begin seated with your legs out in front of you. Bring the soles of your feet together and sit up on your hip/butt bones. Slowly, with the support of your arms, lay back and allow your knees to open up to either side. This pose can be kind of intense, so start off with a long cushion, pillow, or folded blanket supporting your back (the long way, or parallel your spine). You can also put pillows, blankets, or yoga blocks under your knees to prevent overstretching. If you have really tight hips and reclining is too intense for your hip joints, sitting up and breathing slowly and calmly can be just as effective.
2. Active Lunge Stretch
If you want to get the most out of your stretching, you should make sure to warm up the muscles and joints you want to stretch out. By increasing circulation in the targeted areas you can help prevent yourself from overstretching and injury. Start standing. Bring one foot back to a lunge, hands on your hips or up to the sky. Your toes and knee should be pointed forwards. Bring your knee towards the floor slowly into a deep lunge, and then rise to return to the high lunge, making sure to bend your knee over the ‘little toe’ side of the foot. Alternate 10-20 times to help warm-up and stretch those tight hips. You can bring your arms out to the side for assistance with balance, or seek support from a surface with one hand. Bonus: glute and leg toning!
3. Lunge Stretch
Now that you’ve warmed up those hips, we can get into a deeper stretch. Start from standing. Bring one foot back to a lunge, toes and knees facing front. Drop your body down until you can put a hand on either side of your foot. If you have really tight hips from sitting and this is too intense for you, try with blocks under your hands, or books if you don’t have blocks. Don’t put all your weight in your hands, instead balancing your body between your two feet. You should feel the stretch in the front of the hip joint. Your glutes and core should be engaged. Return to standing and alternate sides. 5-10 stretches per side. For more toning, you can alternate sides by switching through a plank position.
4. Lunge Stretch With Dropped Knee
For an even deeper stretch in the front of the hip, go into the above lunge position and drop your knee to the ground. With the hand of the opposite side (right hand/left leg, left leg/right hand), reach around behind you and grab your foot or ankle. You can do variations for tight hips by reaching towards the sky instead of reaching for your ankle, or by facing forwards with hands on either side of the foot and resting your knee on the ground, weight in your front foot.
5. Standing Front Hip Stretch
For the tightest of tight hips, start standing with your hand on a surface for support, or not to improve your balance. Bend your knee and reach the same hand (right hand/right leg, left hand/left leg) to your ankle. Make sure you aren’t sitting into one hip or the other and that the hips are even. Your leg should be parallel if you released it, taking care not to torque the knee. Alternate sides.
6. Mermaid Seated Twist
This stretch will help to ground your pelvis and stretch your side muscles that connect and contribute to your tight hips. It will also prepare you for the next pose. Bring both feet to one side so you are sitting up on one hip, feet to the side like a mermaid. If your feet are one your left, take your left hand and place it on your knee. Right on the right side. Take a deep breath in and turn slowly to face the side or back, right hand reaching behind you. Take a few deep breaths and return to center on an exhale. Switch sides.
7. Pretzel Seated Twist
The bottom leg from the mermaid seated twist can remain tucked under, foot next to the hip, or you can extend the bottom leg if that feels better. Take the top leg and place the foot next to the knee, top leg crossing over bottom leg. Wrap the arm opposite of your top, crossing leg around your knee and turn your torso in the direction of the crossing leg. Reach the free hand back, as in the mermaid twist. Breathe deeply. This will stretch the outside of a tight hip.
8. Reclined Hip Stretch Or ‘Four’ Stretch
Lay down on your back with your knees bent and pointed up towards the sky. This stretch stretches the outside of the hip. Raise one foot to the sky, then bend the leg and cross your ankle across the knee of the still leg. Bring your legs towards you, holding on to the shin, knee, or wherever is comfortable. Switch sides by returning your foot to the floor, reaching the crossed leg up to the sky, lowering the sky foot to the ground, and returning it next to the still leg.
9. Fire Log Stretch
Sit up on your hip/butt bones. Take one foot and place it over the knee of the opposite leg, stacking your legs like logs, but one on top of each other. Breathe. You might feel this stretch a little in both of your hips depending on the extent of your hip tightness, but definitely more in the hip of the top leg. To deepen the stretch, lean forward over your legs. Clasp your hands, rest your elbows on the floor, or bring your torso all the way over depending on your tightness and flexibility. The importance of stretches is not how far you can go, but how safely you can stretch. Don’t push yourself. Deeper is not better. Switch sides.
10. Wide Leg Stretch
This stretches the inside of your hip where your leg meets your groin. Be careful and gentle with your body. Open your legs up to either side. Push gently through the balls of the feet, but not so much that you tense your legs. Walk your hands out to the front. You can rest your face in your hands, on your stacked arms, or on the ground depending on what is comfortable and safe for you. Breathe for 5-10 breaths. You can experiment by alternating between flexed and pointed feet, pushing a little deeper or wider with the legs, or reaching the arms out to the side and holding onto the big toes with your two first fingers.
Who else has been in need of these stretches for your tight hips after sitting all day? Do you have any favorite stretches?
Featured image: via pexels, by cottonbro; https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-girl-animal-dog-4056535/
Photos: via pexels, by Cliff Booth, Elly Fairytale, Polina Tankilevitch, Anthony Shkraba, Wendy Wei, Purple Smith, Werner Pfennig, Jeremy Bishop
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