The following set of hip stretches are grouped according to the type of hip stretch. The first group includes stretches for the hip extensors, the back of the hip. The next group stretches the abductors which includes the glutes (medius and maximus) and piriformis. One final stretch is included that focuses on the iliotibial band.
All of these hip stretches have been chosen for effectiveness.
The following yoga hip stretches are for the back of the hip joint. These differ from hamstring stretches in that the knee is bent and these stretches can be used as preparations for hamstring stretching.
Bound angle pose is normally taught with the feet pulled close to the pelvis. However, if you move the feet forwards, away from the pelvis, and then bend forwards, the pose then becomes a stretch for the outer thighs. (With feet close to the pelvis this pose is a stretch for the inner thighs.)
As you bend forwards work at spreading the inner edges of the feet. Use the muscles of your ankles and feet as opposed to using your hands.
In addition, press the sides of your feet into the floor. If you feel the sides of your glutes activating, you are doing the foot activation correctly.
To add weight to the stretch lift your hands off of the floor and then reach them forwards.
One of the easiest hip stretches for the back of the hip is to kneel on one leg with the other foot flat on the floor, knee upwards.
You can sit on the heel of the kneeling leg or have the hip inside the foot (like in hero pose.) Place both hands on the floor in front of you and bend forwards. If you find your lifted knee uncomfortable, try moving the foot forwards. I'd suggest positioning the foot so that the front of the ankle is just behind the front of the knee. Rather than letting the knee move outwards use the inner thigh muscles to pull the knee inwards, towards the chest.
From here, a similiar pose is low lunge. From the previous pose, reach the kneeling leg back so that you are in a lunging position with one leg forwards and the other leg back. Move the pelvis forwards and down and reposition the front foot so that when viewed from the side the front of the ankle is just behind the front of the knee.
If your left foot is forwards you may find it easier to drop your right elbow to the floor first. Then sink your right elbow down. Reach your chest forwards, away from your pelvis and pull your ears away from your ribcage so that the sides of your neck feel long.
To increase the hip stretch come up onto your hands, then bend the elbows (like doing a push up) to sink your chest to the floor. I find it easier to bend the elbows out to the sides however, you could also choose to point your elbows rearwards.
This hip stretch can be done with the back foot pointing backwards, as show, or with the toes tucked under.
One of my favorite hip stretches is a variation of the low lunge but with the front foot turned out. (I used to call this "painful pose").
Start in a low lunge with the front foot turned out. Move the back knee rearwards far enough so that your shoulders are over the front foot when viewed from the side.
Press the front knee rearwards so that the inside edge of the foot lifts off of the floor.
Try to touch the back of the knee to the floor. It's probably not going to happen but that's one of the ways to deepen the stretch.
To increase the stretch bend your elbows and sink your shoulder towards the front foot.
Continue to push the front knee back and down. To add weight to the pose lift the back knee. (Back toes can be tucked under or they can point back so that the top of the foot is on the floor.)
A pose with a similiar action to low lunge is happy baby hip stretch done one leg a time.
Yoga hip stretches that work on the piriformis and glutes are similiar to hip stretches for the back of the hip, however, the leg of the hip being stretched is externally rotated and then bent forwards.
These hip stretches may be good for runners and/or people who suffer from sciatic nerve pain. These poses can be counterposed with inner thigh or adductor stretches.
A variation of the above yoga stretch is runners stretch.
You could also try grabbing the bottom foot with both hands. Then use your arms to pull your chest towards your foot.
Once you can grab the foot, increase the stretch by moving the bottom foot rearwards so that the supporting knee moves higher.
You can also try levering the "grabbed" foot forwards so that your armpit moves closer to the foot.
To get into armpit pose you need to have your elbow reach past the outer edge of the top foot.
From there internally rotate the arm, bend the elbow and reach the hand along the inside of the bottom leg and then try to reach it behind the back.
Try to clasp hands behind the back.
Pigeon pose is perhaps on of the most common yoga hip stretches.
To learn how to keep your knee safe in this pose (as well as some options for the "hip lifted" version of this pose), check out yoga pigeon pose.
Other variations include doing pigeon yoga pose with the front leg hip on the ground.
Yet another variation of pigeon pose is double pigeon.
This final stretch can be extremely uncomfortable but is a good way to stretch the iliotibial band, or perhaps more exactly, the muscles that work on it.
Start with one leg crossed over the other. (You may find it easier to start with if you sit on yoga blocks to raise your hips higher!)
Use your hands to press your knees towards each other. Ideally (and this may take some practice) your knees will be stacked over each other.
The stretch is a little less intense if you move your feet rearwards. For a more intense stretch move the feet forwards enough so that the feet and knees are all in one line. (Not shown.)
Sit up tall and focus on breathing deeply and smoothly.
Note that if you have a chronically tight IT band, it may be tight because it is compensating for something else. So rather than just using this stretch I'd suggest also working on hip stability. A simple way to work on hip stability is to practice balancing on one foot. You can also try balancing one leg while binding the non-standing leg.
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