7 Exercises To Open Hips

Fitness, Pain + Recovery, Training Advice, Workouts

By: // October 20, 2021

Hip pain is a common and frustrating complaint caused by many things—everything from athletic injuries and pinched nerves to arthritis or osteoporosis. The truth is, everything in your body is connected, and to alleviate hip pain, you’ll want to work not only the hip flexors themselves but the surrounding muscles that support them.

Did you know that even your feet and ankles have a role to play in supporting your hips and keeping them pain-free? Let’s learn more about what can cause hip tightness and then learn seven exercises to open hips.

What Causes Tight Hips?

Hip tightness or pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Sitting for prolonged periods
  • Injury to the hips
  • Overuse by excessive running or exercise
  • Constantly crossing your legs while you sit
  • Tendonitis or bursitis of the hip
  • Problems with your psoas muscle

That last point is essential. The psoas muscle (pronounced “so-as”) is a very common cause of hip pain, and you may not have even heard of it. Let’s learn more about what the psoas does and how it can contribute to hip tightness or pain.

How The Psoas Muscle Contributes To Hip Tightness

Your psoas is essentially the deepest muscle in your core, responsible not just for hip rotation and extension but virtually every movement you make, whether it’s walking, jogging, or just standing tall.

The psoas is thick, acting as the only muscle that connects the upper body to the lower body (the lumbar vertebrae to the femur).


If your psoas is weak, it can cause postural problems and hip pain or tightness.  A weak psoas muscle causes the hips and quadriceps to work overtime, resulting in a chronic feeling of hip tightness and even back pain. It’s an often-overlooked cause of tight hips! Now that you know what may be causing your hip tightness, let’s do something about it, shall we?

7 Exercises To Open Hips

These exercises focus on strengthening and stretching your hips, glutes, and yes—that sneaky psoas muscle—so you can be pain-free once again.

From yoga poses to resistance band moves, these seven moves will relieve tight hips and help you get back to the workouts and everyday activities you enjoy. Practice these exercises 2-3 times per week or as needed to relieve tight hips.*

*Web MD recommends that you see a doctor if your hip pain results in sudden swelling or the inability to move or bear weight on the affected leg.

1. Bridge Pose 

Help open up tight hips with bridge pose.

Bridge pose is a great exercise to open hips.

  1. Lie on the floor on your back, with knees bent and arms on your side.
  2. Slowly raise your glutes off the floor until your body is straight from your knees to your shoulders.
  3. Hold the pose for 8 to 10 seconds, then slowly lower to starting position.

2. Leg Lifts 

Try leg lifts to open up your hips and relieve hip pain.

This exercise will wake up your glutes and legs and help strengthen your hips.

  1. Start on all fours with right leg extended long on mat.
  2. Squeeze right glute and hamstring to lift right leg up towards the ceiling. Slowly lower and repeat for the desired number of reps. Make sure to keep abs tight and back straight.

Related: 10 Lower Body Exercises To Combat Knee Pain

3. Pigeon Pose 

Pigeon pose is so helpful to open up the hips.

Pigeon pose is one of the best exercises to open hips there—this traditional yoga pose feels restorative too.

  1. Begin in plank position. Tighten your abdominals and pull your right knee toward your right hand, placing your right foot as close to your left hand as you can.
  2. Keep your back leg long and hips even as you relax your weight through the middle of your hips.
  3. Slowly begin to lower your chest over your front shin, relaxing your forehead on the mat and arms stretched overhead.
  4. Breathe and hold for 30 seconds. Slowly lift chest up, step back into plank and switch sides.

4. Happy Baby Pose 

Try happy baby pose to relieve hip pain.

Happy baby is a great way to stretch out your spine, legs, and hips simultaneously.

  1. Begin lying on your back and grab your big toes with your index and middle fingers.
  2. Gently draw toes down, so knees pull toward shoulders. Keep elbows gently pressing knees.
  3. Relax and breathe; hold for 30 seconds.

5. Resistance Band Outer Thigh Press 

Try this move to open up tight hips.

A resistance band can be a fantastic tool to help strengthen your hips. This move will stretch and strengthen the thighs and hips.

  1. Lay on your back with legs straight in the air above your hips
  2. Place the center of the band around the bottom of your feet and hold handles together at your chest.
  3. Press the feet wide open until the legs are in a straddle position and the band is tight. Release slowly.

6. Butterfly Stretch

The butterfly stretch is a pose that encompasses the entire hip area and opens inner thighs, back, and hip flexors. You can use it to open up the muscles before exercise, to stretch them after exercise, or as a stand-alone stretch to help with tight hips overall.

1. Come to a seated position and bring the soles of your feet together. Keep your spine tall and your abs pulled in tight.
2. Grab hold of each foot with your hands and place elbows against your inner thighs.
3. Keeping your spine long, inhale to prepare, and as you exhale, slowly lower your torso forward pausing when you feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds or more.

7. Ankle Circles

You might not have guessed it, but ankle exercises can help relieve tight hips.

You might not have guessed it, but tight ankles can often restrict movement in the rest of the lower body, resulting in tight hips or knees. So try this ankle exercise to help tight hips, too!

  1. Lay on the floor on your back and raise one leg over your head.
  2. Rotate the extended leg’s ankle clockwise for ten counts, then counterclockwise for ten counts.
  3. Perform on your other leg.

Want to save these moves? #PinForLater

Get relief for tight hips with these 7 moves.

READ THIS NEXT: 7 Yoga Poses To Relieve Tight Hips

Printed from GetHealthyU.com


on September 11, 2021 at 9:17 AM Reply

Great article, but the pose shown for cobra is up dog.

on September 11, 2021 at 9:15 AM Reply

Great article, but the pose pictured is up dog not cobra

on June 18, 2021 at 6:41 PM Reply

Great suggestions

on May 28, 2019 at 4:27 AM Reply

Hey GH U gang, I love your stretches for right hips. Do you have stretches for a tight lower back? I would so love to have some. Thanks

    on May 28, 2019 at 4:26 PM Reply

    Hi Corinne - We definitely have a few blogs out there for lower back stretches!! Here are a few that I think you may like. https://gethealthyu.com/strong-low-back-exercises/ https://gethealthyu.com/yoga-flow-bad-low-back/ https://gethealthyu.com/10-best-exercises-for-your-bad-back/ Let me know if you are looking for others! Enjoy!

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