Tight hips: they’re the bane of every runner’s existence. Okay, perhaps we’re exaggerating, but feeling tension in the hips after a run is no joke.
Stiffness that ranges from bothersome to making you immobile is certainly common, especially if you’re skipping out on stretching.
Aaptiv has stretching workouts to get your mobility back. Check them out in the app today.
Read on to learn how to incorporate them into your cool-down routine or a rest day.
The butterfly stretch is one of the most universally known stretches. The stretch is so commonly used because it primarily targets small muscles in your inner thighs called hip adductors.
Hip adductors assist in everyday movements, like flexing, rotating, and straightening your hips. This, of course, means that they play a large part in running.
Doing the butterfly stretch won’t just release any tightness in this muscle, but it will also decrease your chances of a lower back injury and torn ligaments.
Here’s how to do it: Sit on the floor with both legs out in front of you. Then, bend your knees outward and press the soles of your feet together; this should create a diamond shape with your legs.
To lessen the stretch, move your feet further from your body; to increase the stretch, pull them closer.
Keep your back straight, and lean forward, if your flexibility allows. While performing this stretch, make sure that you’re keeping your back from curving.
For a more intense stretch, place your hands or elbows on your knees and gently press downward.
To target your outer hips (and parts of the glutes), move on to the cross-legged twist. This stretch is also known as the parivrtta sukhasana, meaning twisted and easy, comfortable, or joyful. This couldn’t be more true, considering it’s as simple as the first stretch.
Begin by sitting crossed-legged on the floor. Make sure that your back is straight and your breathing is normal.
Now turn your upper body (including your neck) to the left. Place your right hand on top of your left knee, and your left hand on the ground; this will help you hold the stretch and stay stable.
To switch sides, release your hands and slowly face forward. Then, turn to the right side, placing your left hand on top of the right knee and right hand on the ground.
Try not to push yourself too far or you may over-twist!
The inward fold of the body and downward head placement naturally signals that you’re safe and can rest, relaxing your body.
Performing the pose with your knees close together and stomach resting on your thighs decompresses your lower back and can aid in digestion. In addition, child’s pose opens up the hips, especially if you place your knees widely apart.
To do this pose, start by sitting on your knees. Rest your bum on your heels and spread your knees apart, keeping your big toes together.
From here, bend forward and drape your torso between your legs, with your forehead coming to the floor. Extend your arms out in front of you, palms facing down against the floor.
Using your hands, push back just enough to keep your bum on your heels. Stretch from your hips all the way through to your fingers.
“Feel the weight as you let your hips sink,” says Barajas. “Whether [or not] you think [that] you’re stretching, you are.”
Upside Down V
Yogis will recognize this pose by its more widely known name, downward facing dog. This pose stretches your hamstrings, calves, arches, shoulders, and hands all at once.
This allows it to release bodily stress, energize the body, improve digestion, and even relieve period pain.
Easily enough, you can come into upside down v straight from child’s pose. Curl your toes under and push up onto the soles of your feet, leaning forward onto your hands.
Keep your heels pressed to the mat or floor, allowing those leg muscles to stretch. “Imagine [that] there’s a rope tied around your waist and it pulls you towards the ceiling,” Barajas explains.
To open up the hips you can square them off and lift one leg up, creating a three-legged downward facing dog. From there, for even more hip action, you can lengthen your spine and raise your hips towards the sky or ceiling.
Bend the knee of the extended leg and bring your heel towards your bum. This variation stretches the hips and lengthens each side of the body, relieving any tight hips and working your core balance.
Modified Runner’s Lunge
Also called the crescent lunge or low lunge, this variant provides a deeper stretch to the hips and thighs. You can do it from standing or go into it from upside down v.
To do the latter, bring your right leg into the air; draw it in through your heart center and plant your foot between both of your hands.
Check that your right knee isn’t going past your ankle. Allow your back left knee to drop to the ground, resting the top of your left foot on the ground, as well.
Keep your core engaged and body upright. Push into your left hip, both of them pointing straight ahead.
Like in upside down v, imagine a rope pulling your hips ever so slightly forward and down. “Feel the stretch at the top of the left hip,” Barajas says. “Physically feel the breath go into that left hip.”
When finished, come back into upside down v and repeat on the opposite side. Barajas points out that one side might feel different or less flexible than the other—and that’s totally normal.
Make the adjustments that you need to get a great stretch without feeling pain or major discomfort.
Barajas describes this as child’s pose in standing position. The deep squat is one of the best ways to stretch your hip flexors, rotating them externally while unloading your pelvis and spine.
To start off, place your feet at the edges of your mat (or further, whichever takes you outside of shoulder-width). Heels planted on the ground, keep your back as straight as possible and lower your hips.
“Breathe into the hips, imagine you’re opening up,” Barajas advises.
Reverse pigeon pose is another stretch that targets your hip flexors. However, it differs from the other poses in that it takes places on the ground.
To perform it, start by laying on your back. Both legs should be bent, with your feet flat on the ground. From here, take your right ankle and cross it over the top of your left thigh.
It should look like you’ve created a number four of sorts with your legs. Now, take your right hand and bring it to the middle of your legs. With that hand, you can either grab behind the left thigh or—if your flexibility allows—the front of the left shin.
Keeping your right foot flexed, use both hands to bring your left knee towards your chest. Try to keep your right knee open.
For an even deeper stretch, place your left hand on top of your left shin and your right hand on your right knee. Gently push your right knee away from you as you pull the left leg forward, all while keeping your right foot flexed.
This will target both your inner and outer hip. As always, perform on the opposite side to balance your stretch out.
For more stretching or yoga workouts, Aaptiv has the latest workout releases in app. Check them out!