Without glute activation and good hip mobility, those limitations can also show up in how you absorb impact, Carol Mack, CSCS, an Ohio doctor of physical therapy at CLE Sports PT & Performance, tells SELF.

“For movements like squatting, the hip needs enough mobility to be able to bend for hip flexion, rotate inward, and rotate outward,” she says. “With plyometric movements like squat jumps, another element is added where the hip needs to move through that same range of motion, but at a fast speed.”

The quicker your hips, knees, and ankles can bend, the better the ability to absorb the impact or force from the ground, she adds. Joint mobility and muscle strength need to work together for that to happen effectively. That means when you stretch, you’re not only aiming to lengthen the muscles with the aim of increasing hip flexibility, you’re also working toward actively strengthening them, Mack says.

What are the benefits of hip stretches?

The good news is that there are plenty of good hip-opening stretches out there—some working directly on your hip flexors and others working on your surrounding muscles, like your glutes—that you can do to relieve discomfort, decrease tightness, and increase mobility in your hips. Since your hips are involved in so many of the movements you make (both inside and outside of the gym) stretching them is a great way to keep them feeling good and ready to work for you.

Ready for some examples on how to stretch your hips? We have 19 great hip stretching exercises below. Tack a few of these on to the end of your workout (especially if you’ve added in some hip exercises), or spend 10 minutes each day just doing a few of them to improve mobility in your hips. Have some extra time? Try these foam rolling exercises for your hips too. Whichever way you plan to slot in hip mobility stretches, your body will definitely thank you!

Quick note: While these hip mobility and stretching exercises can help relieve discomfort caused by tightness, if you’re experiencing hip pain or more serious aches, you may want to connect with your doctor or physical therapist. They may be able to prescribe specific stretches for hip pain—or may have you hold off on certain moves that can exacerbate whatever is causing the pain.

Demoing the moves below are Charlee Atkins (GIFs 1, 3-4, 6-7, 9-10, 12, 14-15), CSCS, creator of Le Sweat; Devon Stewart (GIF 2, 8, and 13), a yoga instructor and sexual- and reproductive-health doula based in NYC’s Harlem; Jessica Rihal (GIFs 5, 11, 17-19), a plus-size yoga instructor (200-HR) and a strong advocate of fitness and wellness for all bodies; and Hejira Nitoto (GIF 16), a mom of six and a certified personal trainer and fitness-apparel line owner based in Los Angeles.

Lunge With Spinal Twist

  • Start standing with your feet together.
  • Take a big step forward with your left foot, so that you are in a staggered stance.
  • Bend your left knee and drop into a lunge, keeping your right leg straight behind you with your toes on the ground, so you feel a stretch at the front of your right thigh.
  • Place your right hand on the floor and twist your upper body to the left as you extend your left arm toward the ceiling.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Repeat on the other side.
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Stretches hip flexors, quads, back.

High Crescent Lunge

  • Take a big step forward with your left foot to start in a staggered stance with your feet almost mat-length apart.
  • Bend your front knee and keep your back leg straight and heel lifted off the floor. Try to bend your front leg so that your thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Square your hips toward the front.
  • Extend your arms toward the ceiling on either side of your head and stretch up as you also press into the mat and feel the stretch in your hips.
  • Hold for at least 5 breaths and then repeat on the other side.

Stretches hip flexors and quads.

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

  • Lie on your back with both legs extended.
  • Pull your right knee into your chest while keeping the left leg straight and your lower back pressed into the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Repeat on the other leg.

Stretches lower back, hips, hamstrings.

90/90 Stretch

  • Sit with your right knee bent at 90 degrees in front of you, calf perpendicular to your body and the sole of your foot facing to the left. Keep your right foot flexed.
  • Let your leg rest flat on the floor.
  • Place your left knee to the left of your body, and bend the knee so that your foot faces behind you. Keep your left foot flexed.
  • Keep your right butt cheek on the floor. Try to move the left cheek as close to the floor as possible. It may not be possible if you’re super tight.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Stretches hips.

Figure Four Stretch

  • Lie on your back.
  • Cross your right foot over your left quad, and bend your left knee.
  • Hold the back of your left leg and gently pull it toward your chest.
  • When you feel a comfortable stretch, hold there.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Stretches hips, glutes, lower back, hamstrings

Reclining Angle Bound Pose

  • Lie on your back.
  • Bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to open up and move closer to the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Stretches inner thighs, hips, groin.

Piriformis Stretch

  • Sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you.
  • Cross your right leg over your left, and place your right foot flat on the floor.
  • Place your right hand on the floor behind your body.
  • Place your left hand on your right quad or your left elbow on your right knee (as shown) and press your right leg to the left as you twist your torso to the right.
  • If the spinal rotation bothers your back, omit it and simply use your left hand to pull your right quad in and to the left.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Stretches hips, back, glutes.

Cow Face Pose

  • From all fours (tabletop position), cross your right knee in front of your left knee, so your knees are in one line.
  • Widen your knees so that you can sit your hips down on the mat in between your feet. If one of your hips is higher than the other, sit on a block or a blanket.
  • You can remain sitting upright if that’s enough of a stretch for your hips. If you feel you can go deeper, fold your body forward over your thighs and reach your arms out in front of you, pressing your palms into the mat as pictured. If you do fold forward, you may want to rest your forehead on a block in front of your knees.
  • Hold for at least 5 breaths and then repeat on the other side.

Stretches the outer hip (abductor) muscles, including the gluteus medius.

Three-Legged Dog

This version of downward facing dog helps activate the hips more, Atkins says. You can also bend the knee of the extended leg, bringing your foot to your butt, and circle your leg from the hip to make the stretch more active.

  • Start in downward facing dog with your feet hip-width apart, hands shoulder-width apart, fingers facing forward, and your hips pushed up into the air. Your head should be between your arms, facing your lower body.
  • Lift one leg off the floor and extend it high, straightening your knee as much as you can.
  • Alternate between pointing and flexing your foot to vary the stretch, Atkins suggests.
  • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.

Stretches hips, shoulders, hamstrings, back.

Kneeling Side Bend Stretch

  • Kneel on the floor with your legs together, back straight, and core tight.
  • Extend your left leg out to the side. Keep it perpendicular to your body (not in front or behind you).
  • Extend your right arm overhead, rest your left arm on your left leg, and gently bend your torso and right arm to the left side.
  • Keep your hips facing forward.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Repeat on the other side.
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Stretches groin, hips, inner thigh, obliques.

Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Kneel on your right knee. Place your left foot flat on the floor in front of you, knee bent.
  • Lean forward slightly, stretching your right hip toward the floor.
  • Squeeze your butt; this will allow you to stretch your hip flexor even more. You should feel this in your right hip flexor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Stretches hips, quads, glutes.

Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch With Rotation

Changing the angle on the lunging hip flexor stretch adds more of a hip rotation and lets you tap into different parts of your hips, Atkins says. “This option gives you a deeper hip extensor stretch.”

  • Kneel on your left knee. Place your right foot flat on the floor in front of you, knee bent.
  • Lean forward, stretching your left hip toward the floor.
  • Squeeze your butt; this will allow you to stretch your hip flexor even more.
  • Then rotate your torso open to the left. If you can reach your hands down to the ground, keeping your chest lifted to deepen the stretch.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Stretches hips, quads, glutes.

Happy Baby Pose

  • Lie faceup with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Lift your feet off the floor and grab the outside edges of your feet with your hands.
  • Gently pull your feet toward your chest and let your knees lower toward the floor on either side of your body. Keep your back flat on the floor.
  • Hold for at least 5 breaths.

Stretches the inner thigh muscles (hip adductors).

Pretzel Stretch

  • Lie on your left side with your head resting on your arm.
  • Bend your right knee and hip up toward your chest as far as you can, and let it drop to the floor.
  • Bend your left knee and grab your left foot (use a strap if you can’t reach it) with your right hand.
  • Make sure your leg and torso remain in a straight line as you gently bring your top shoulder blade toward the floor.
  • For more of a spinal twist, turn your head to look over your right shoulder.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Stretches quads, glutes, obliques, hips, back.

Twisted Reclined Pigeon

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and arms out to your sides in either a T or cactus arms (as shown).
  • Cross your right foot over your left quad.
  • Lift your left leg off the floor. Grab onto the back of your left leg and gently pull it toward your chest.
  • Then let your legs fall down to the left side, keeping your right foot just above your left knee. Try to keep your shoulder blades on the floor and hips as square to the ceiling as possible.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Stretches hips, glutes, lower back.

Bridge Pose

  • Lie faceup, arms extended by your sides, knees bent so that your feet are flat on the floor.
  • Press through your heels to lift your hips up, and walk your feet in a few steps toward your body, keeping your feet and knees hip-width apart and your feet directly underneath your knees.
  • Interlace your fingers underneath your body and press your fist into the mat.
  • Hold for at least 5 breaths.

Strengthens the glutes, which takes pressure off the hip muscles.

Child’s pose

  • Kneel on your mat with your knees hip-width apart and your feet together behind you. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale lay your torso over your thighs.
  • Try to lengthen your neck and spine by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone and the crown of your head away from your shoulders.
  • Rest your forehead on the ground, with your arms extended out in front of you.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Stretches hips, low back, back, and ankles.

Cobra Pose

  • Lie on your stomach with your hands underneath your shoulders, elbows pointing straight behind you, palms flat on the ground, and your big toes touching each other. Lightly press your feet into the floor. This is the starting position.
  • Inhale, then exhale and pull your belly button in towards your spine.
  • Inhale again and press through your palms to lift your chest off the floor.
  • Pause when there’s just a slight bend remaining in your elbows; don’t straighten your arms completely. Depending on your flexibility, at this point you may feel a stretch through your chest, the front of your shoulders, and/or the front of your hips.
  • Keep your eyes slightly up at about a 30-degree angle. Your shoulders should be pulled down and away from your ears.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, then return to the starting position. Continue for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Stretches hip flexor, chest, and spinal muscles.

Standing Quad Stretch

  • Grab your left ankle with your left hand and pull it toward your butt. You can raise your right hand toward the ceiling or keep it at your side. You should feel the stretch in your left quad.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Repeat on the other side.

Stretches your quads.

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