The Top Exercises and Stretches for Hip Mobility, According to Physiotherapists

Sport & Activity

Three experts share their top choices for hip mobility exercises and stretches.

Last updated: 3 October 2022
6 min read
The Top Exercises and Stretches for Hip Mobility, According to Physical Therapists

Your hips help you get through several important aspects of your day, including walking, running and sitting. And, with that, your hip mobility is crucial to get around with ease.

But having tight hip muscles can prevent you from having a full range of motion in your hips—and that could interfere with your performance and even raise your risk of injury, said André Williams, DPT. If you're struggling with tight hip muscles, hip mobility exercises are definitely worth considering.

Here's what you need to know about hip mobility, along with the right exercises to help you maximise yours.

Which hip mobility exercises are the best?

Experts say there are plenty of exercises that can help improve your hip mobility, allowing you to have a fuller range of motion. Here are some of the biggest ones to help you achieve your performance goals:

  1. 1.Kettlebell weight shift:

    The Top Exercises and Stretches for Hip Mobility, According to Physical Therapists

    Kettlebell Weight Shift:

    Half kneel on a firm surface with your lead leg in external hip rotation (think about an approximately 2 or 3 o'clock position on a clock, Isaac said). Keep your knee pointed out towards your little toe. Holding a kettlebell of moderate weight, shift your weight into the lead leg. Hold for five to 10 seconds, return to starting position and repeat five to 10 times. Then, repeat the process again with the opposite leg leading.

  2. 2.Hip airplane:

    The Top Exercises and Stretches for Hip Mobility, According to Physical Therapists

    Hip Aeroplane:

    Stand on one leg and brace your core. Hinge forwards at the hips so that your torso hovers over the floor and extend the other leg straight back behind you. Rotate your belly button towards your stance leg as much as possible without losing balance and hold for five seconds. Then, rotate away and hold for five seconds. Repeat five to 10 times.

  3. 3.90/90:

    The Top Exercises and Stretches for Hip Mobility, According to Physical Therapists

    90/90:

    Sit on a firm surface with one leg in front of you and one leg behind you, with your knees bent and your calves flat on the floor. Both knees should be bent to about 90 degrees, Isaac said. (It should almost look like you're running on the spot, with your legs flat on the ground.) Place your arm on the same side as the lead leg at your side, palm down.

    "You may need to use a book or yoga block under your palm", Isaac said. Hinge forwards at your hips as far as you can, keeping your back flat. Hold for five to 10 seconds, return to the neutral position, then repeat five to 10 times. Switch your lead legs and repeat.

  4. 4.Spiderman lunges:

    The Top Exercises and Stretches for Hip Mobility, According to Physical Therapists

    Spiderman Lunges:

    Start in a Plank position. Lift your right foot off the floor, bend your knee and place your foot outside your right hand. Hold for three to five seconds, Mack said. Then, return to the starting position and do the same on your left side. Mack suggested doing five to 10 Lunges on each side.

  5. 5.Child’s pose:

    The Top Exercises and Stretches for Hip Mobility, According to Physical Therapists

    Child's Pose:

    This popular yoga pose can help open up your hips, Mack said. To do it, kneel on the ground and sit on your knees. Then, while keeping your bottom on your heels, lean forwards so that your forehead is resting on the floor and your arms are stretched out in front of you. You can spread your knees outwards to get a deeper stretch. Hold the pose for 10 seconds or more.

  6. 6.Lateral lunge:

    The Top Exercises and Stretches for Hip Mobility, According to Physical Therapists

    Lateral Lunge:

    Also known as a Side Lunge, this move can help work several muscles around your hips. Start by standing, with your feet hip-width apart. Then, keeping your toes pointed forwards, take a wide step to the right and bend your right knee so that your left leg is stretched straight. Hold for five seconds, then go back to standing and repeat with your left leg. Do 10 reps.

    If you've tried hip mobility exercises and you feel like your hips are still tight or they're not quite where they should be, it's a good idea to check with a physiotherapist. A trained professional should be able to offer personalised recommendations to help give you the mobility you want to achieve.

Why is hip mobility important?

Your body "is constructed in alternating mobile and stable joints", Williams said. For example, you have a mobile foot and a stable knee. "When you have less mobility at a mobile joint, the body adapts one of your stable joints and makes it more mobile", he said. "If you lack hip mobility, it is more likely that you are compensating for it with your lower back". This, he added, can be the cause of lower back pain.

Poor hip mobility can also lead to muscle strains and sprains as well as poor use of muscles, leading to weaknesses that can have a domino effect of poor quality on daily activities such as walking around and carrying groceries, Williams said.

For sport, hip mobility is particularly important "for activities like weight training, golf or sports that require a person to change direction quickly like football, basketball or American football", said Carol Mack, DPT. She added, "If your hip mobility is limited, it could put excess strain on other joints nearby, such as the back or knees".

Inefficient hip mobility leaves you with "increased risk of injury and decreased running economy—which is important in nearly every sport with the exception of something like golf or bowling, which require hip mobility for reasons other than running", said Ellen Isaac, DPT.

How can hip mobility stretches help?

Stretching the muscles in your hips "can help relieve tension and decrease any soft tissue barriers that may be causing your lack of hip mobility", Williams said.

It's also important to focus on strengthening the muscles of your hips to help you get a full range of motion, he added.

Stretching the muscles around the hip, in particular, can help take pressure off the joint, which allows the joint to move more freely, Mack said.

Technically, anyone can benefit from better hip mobility, Isaac added. "Mobility work can be incorporated as part of a dynamic warm-up for just about any athlete", she said.

(Related: 5 Benefits of Stretching Daily, According to Experts)

The Top Exercises and Stretches for Hip Mobility, According to Physical Therapists

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