It’s not always obvious when you have tight hip flexors as it can present itself in odd ways. Feeling as if you have pain in your glutes, having poor posture while you’re standing and any tightness or aching you may feel in your lower back may indicate that you have tight hip flexors. Specifically doing yoga exercises for hips is a great way to not only loosen your hip flexors, but also decrease the pain you feel and improve your flexibility. Keep reading to learn the top yoga poses for hip flexors.
In this article we will:
- Review what causes tight hip flexors
- Discuss preventing & combating tightness
- Highlight the top 6 best yoga poses for hip flexors
- Provide a FREE workout you can do from home
What Causes Tight Hip Flexors
There are a multitude of reasons for why you can have tight hip flexors. For one, if you have a desk job or live a relatively sedentary lifestyle, you’re consistently shortening the muscle group that connects your spine with your lower limbs (iliopsoas), which causes your hip flexors to tighten. This is also common with endurance athletes.
Endurance athletes often struggle with having tight hip flexors because they’re consistently shortening the iliopsoas through their activities. When training involves that movement to happen, you’ll likely experience tight hip flexors unless you start doing stretches and yoga poses to counteract that movement.
Other causes for tight hip flexors include sleeping all night on one side of your body, or even having one leg slightly longer than the other.
Preventing & Combating Tight Hip Flexors
Regularly doing yoga poses for tight hips can help relieve some of the pain and discomfort you may feel. Yoga is an excellent way to build strength in your lower body and core, as well as increase your flexibility. Doing yoga after a tough workout and regularly throughout your week will help prevent the onslaught of pain you may feel. This is because certain poses work to lengthen the hip flexors that are regularly tightened and shortened through endurance training or a more sedentary lifestyle.
In addition to doing yoga poses for tight hip flexors, you can also use a foam roller to help relieve some of that muscle tightness. Foam rollers are a great tool for easing some soreness and can be used in conjunction with regular yoga stretching.
Yoga Poses for Hip Flexors
Each of these poses will help you to loosen your hip flexors, while also working to strengthen your lower body. In addition to a yoga mat, you may want to use yoga blocks and yoga straps for these exercises.
A high lunge pose works to build strength and correct muscle imbalances in your hips, core, ankles, and shoulders. By working through this pose, you’ll also increase flexibility and mobility in your hips and shoulders.
To get into a high lunge – you want to stand at the top of your mat and take a big step back with one foot. Plant the ball of your back foot on the ground with your heel lifted. Now, bend your front knee until the shin is perpendicular to the floor. Actively press your entire front foot and toes into the floor. Next, reach your arms straight overhead. Be sure to avoid arching your back or puffing out your chest.
You should feel a stretch in your hip flexors. If you don’t, widen your stance or sink deeper into the lunge.
A boat pose is perfect for building overall strength in your core and hips.
Sit down on your mat with your feet planted in front of you and your knees bent. Place your hands on either side of your hips, sit as upright as possible, and lean back slightly to point your chest upward and straighten your spine. Slowly lift your feet off the floor. Keeping your chest liften and your back neutral (not rounded), lift your shins parallel to the floor. Engage your hip flexors and quadriceps to hold yourself upright and extend your arms in front of you with your palms facing up.
If possible, straighten your legs as much as possible while maintaining a straight spine.
The Warrior 2 pose actively opens your groin, addresses back stiffness, and corrects anterior pelvic tilt (which is caused by a shortening of hip adductors)
Start in a wide-legged stance with your feet 4 to 5 feet apart and your toes slightly turned in. Turn one foot to face straight out and bend your knee until it’s directly over your ankle. Be sure to keep your hips and shoulder squared to the side, not facing forward. Keep your hips level. To build strength, squeeze your glutes and quadriceps while pressing into the outer edges of your feet. Next, extend your arms to the sides with your palms facing down. Turn your head to look directly past your front middle finger.
If you don’t feel your pelvic floor expanding as you inhale, bring your feet closer together.
The standing bow pose works to target hip flexor mobility, increase overall hip mobility, and improves your balance.
Balance on one leg. Bend the knee of your lifted leg and bring that heel towards your glutes. Use the corresponding hand to grab the inside of your foot, keeping your shoulder open as you do. Press down firmly through the standing leg and extend the corresponding arm straight up. Next, inhale and lengthen your body to get as tall as possible. Press your lifted foot into your hand and hinge at the hips to bring your torso forward and down while your lifted leg comes back up. Be sure to keep your hips squared forward. Keep your core engaged and reach your tailbone back to maintain length in your lower back.
If you have difficulty grabbing your foot – you can also make a loop with a strap and wrap it around your ankle, holding on to the strap instead.
Pigeon is one of the best overall postures for hip mobility.
Start in a tabletop position with your hips stacked over your knees and your shoulders stacked over your hands. Untuck your toes. Slide one knee up towards your hand on the same side and bring that foot across your body to rest between your opposite hand and knee. Rotate your hips so your knee is pointed outward with your inner thigh facing up and your outer thigh facing down. Extend the toes of your back foot as far back as possible. Release your hips toward the floor as you do so. Next, rest your hands in front of the bent leg.
To build active hip mobility, squeeze the glute of the extended leg, hug your hips toward one another, and shift your weight to your hips.
Lizard Reach Back
This stretch is excellent to do a day after strength training sessions. This will help to loosen up your hips flexors.
From a kneeling, low lunge position, widen your stance by moving your front foot forward and toward the outside a few inches. Your knee should stay above or slightly past the ankle. Next, use your hand to grab the corresponding foot or ankle of the back leg and pull the foot toward your outer hip. Keep your back flat and abs slightly engaged. Feel free to use a strap if you need assistance.
Free 15-Minute Workout For Hip Flexibility
You can work your way through the best yoga poses for hip flexors, but if following along with a workout is more your style, join Man Flow Yoga Founder Dean Pohlman in this free 15-minute yoga exercise for hips from the Man Flow Yoga YouTube page.