As you age, sore and tight muscles, aches and pains and other discomforts become more apparent. This is especially true for those who often sit for hours a day and lead sedentary lives. There are a few basic exercises that can help you get through the day, especially if you experience tight hips. They are called hip flexor stretches.
What Causes Tight Hips?
While people of both genders push for equality, biologically, we are very different. Unfortunately, women are more prone to tight hips than men, and other habits exacerbate the issue, including wearing heels, pregnancy, and more.
Of course, another issue is sitting too much. A sedentary lifestyle will cause your hip flexors to relax, making them become weaker and shorter. It may manifest with aches and pains, and some people may even hear clicking.
How to Alleviate Tight Hips
There are a few things you can do to remedy the situation, and a lot of it involves getting up and actually moving. Taking breaks and making sure you don’t sit for too long can help. Let’s take a look at some hip flexor stretches that can also relieve tight hips.
This is often used in tandem with other glute exercises to get that perfect booty. Bring out your yoga mat and lay on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Keep your arms and shoulders by your side while you work to lift your lips and glutes up into the air. Your core should be activated, as with many other exercises. Do this for 25-30 reps.
Lying Side Stretch
We like this one because you can remain comfortable. Lie down on your side of the yoga mat and grab the ankle of whichever leg is on top. Bend your leg at the knee, so your foot is behind you.
You should extend your hip so you feel a stretch that can carry over to the thigh as well. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and then switch legs. Do this alternately three times.
This is a relaxing stretch that uses gravity to do the work for you. All you need to do is lie down on the edge of a large sofa or your bed. Let the leg closes to the edge hang down while keeping the other bent with your foot flat on the bed.
Gravity will then take over and gently pull on your hanging leg, giving you a stretch across the thigh and hip. Again, hold this for 20-30 seconds and switch between your legs three times.
This next one will be familiar with yogis. However, we feel that yogis won’t be having tight hip issues. This next hip flexor stretch requires you to lie on your yoga mat on your stomach.
Then you gradually lift your upper body with your arms with your elbow to your sides and hands flat on the ground. Flex your glutes and try to extend your spine. Hold for a few seconds and do it 20-25 times.
This one looks quite like the lying down side stretch – except you are standing. Stand and bend one leg behind you and hold your ankle. Tuck it behind your glutes if you can. You can also raise your opposite arm straight in the air for balance. Remember to breathe and hold it there for 20-30 seconds. Switch legs and do the opposite side and continue this for a few times.
Have you seen a man propose to a woman in a movie? This is the kind of kneeling position you want to be in for this stretch. Keep the leg in front of you at a 90-degree angle with your other leg in the opposite position.
You need to make sure your hips are pushed forward (it’s easy to lean back and not get a stretch). Relax and count for a minute to a minute and a half.
Spinal Twist Lunge
This one is similar to the kneeling stretch, but you keep your back leg extended. This takes more effort. Place one hand on the floor to steady yourself and reach toward the sky with the other one. Twist your spine in whichever direction your reaching hand is. Repeat this on the other side and hold each for 30 seconds to a minute.
Knee to Chest Stretch
This one is also more relaxing and quite easy. You lie flat on your back with your legs together and straight in front of you. You then take one leg, bend your knee and bring your knee to your chest.
Make sure you keep your other leg straight and your back flat against the floor. It’s okay if your knee doesn’t reach your chest, but keeping your other leg straight and your back flat is more important.
Angle Bound Stretch
You can do this one sitting or lying down. Then, bring your feet together (soles touching) and try to touch your knees to the floor. Many people are extra tight in this position, so it’s okay if your knees don’t touch the floor.
Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute.
Why are Hip Flexor Stretches Important?
Other than reducing aches and pains, what other benefits do hip stretches offer? First of all, they help with your alignment.
You can open up the joints, and this can affect the strength and flexibility of your muscles. It also realigns your body for better posture.
It can also release stress from your body. Stress equals to tense muscles, which are more susceptible to aches, pains, sprains, and other injuries.
More range of movement can happen with proper hip flexor stretches. When your muscles loosen up, it allows for more circulation as well.
People who don’t exercise may not understand why they often experience tense muscles, aches and pains, and other discomforts. A lot of it has to do with lack of exercise, and basic stretching can help alleviate the basic issues.
If you suffer from tight hips, which could manifest in a lower range of motion and aches, you can give some of the exercises above a try. It’s important not to push yourself too far. It’s okay if your leg doesn’t go up that high, or if you can’t hold the position for too long.
You need to give your body some leniency and remember to breathe through each exercise. They should be repeated on both sides and done consistently.