Knowing how to stretch your hip area is key to maintaining the health of this joint. Hips are designed for mobility, and if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, your hips may be too tight. By not stretching your hips, you're putting yourself at risk for injury and loss of mobility in the hips and even in the lower back and hamstrings. Here are some stretches you can do to keep your hips healthy.
Lunges Stretch the Muscles of the Hip Flexor
Lunges are a classic stretch, and they're great for keeping the muscles of the hip flexor long and supple. The hip flexor is a major muscle group that includes the muscles of the hip, lower back and thighs. Lunges stretch the illiopsoas, or the muscles that attach your hip and lumbar spine to your thigh bones.
There are two types of lunges you can perform; low lunges offer a deeper stretch in the illiopsoas, but high lunges extend the stretch in to the back of the calf muscle. To perform either lunge, begin by kneeling on the floor with a straight, strong back. Step one foot forward and place it so that the heel remains directly below the knee. You can either lift the rear knee off the floor and straighten the rear leg for a high lunge, or, you can leave the rear knee on the floor and extend the rear leg further back until you feel a satisfying stretch in the front of the rear thigh and hip. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Adductor Stretches Keep Your Inner Thighs Limber
Your adductor muscles are the muscles that run up your inner thigh or groin area; these muscles are part of the hip flexor muscle group. You can stretch these muscles by standing in a straddle position, with your legs spread wide. Lean to one side, bending the knee on that side as necessary, until you feel a stretch in the groin area opposite. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
You can also stretch your adductors in a seated position, using the butterfly stretch, which stretches both sets of adductors at once. Sit on the floor and bend your knees; press the soles of your feet together. Grasp your feet in both hands and lean forward gently; keep your lower back straight and your legs relaxed. You should feel a stretch in the groin area; hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds while breathing deeply.
Gluteal Stretches Stabilize Your Hips
The gluteal muscles are the big muscles of the buttocks, and they help keep your hips stable. Stretch these muscles by lying flat on the floor. Bend one leg and clasp your hands around the thigh; pull that leg gently toward your chest until you feel a stretch in the buttock. If you don't get a powerful stretch, you can cross that leg over the other and pull the other leg towards your chest instead; whatever, you do, just remember to repeat the same stretch on both sides and hold it for 20 to 30 seconds.