These exercises develop mobility and range of motion in the hip joint - a
connection between your leg and pelvis. Some of them
are good for strengthening the muscles surrounding your hip joint.
You can move your leg relative
to the pelvis, or your pelvis relative to the leg.
You do not need to do them all.
Choose one or two from each sector that appeal to you.
1. All around stretch
Make sure the surface of your floor is not slippery. Stand in front of the mirror, feet parallel to each other,
legs straight and apart.
Spread your legs only to the feeling of the very comfortable stretch in
your hip joints. Mildly engage all muscles in your legs to feel really
sturdy. Keep your pelvis in a neutral position
Breathe evenly and hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Now start pushing your left
hip forward and your
right hip back. Do this slowly. Watch yourself
in the mirror. Keep your hips level and legs straight and toned.
You will not be able to push a lot, so do not try to go beyond the mild stretch feeling.
Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Do the same in the opposite direction.
Observe in which direction you have more range of motion. Hold longer for the stiffer side. For
someone who knows Yoga, the triangle poses, angle poses and lunge poses are
good exercises to stretch the hip joints. All of the above stretches have a benefit of
strengthening ligaments and muscles around the hip joint.
When you stretch any joint you have to strengthen surrounding muscles too.
Otherwise, it will become very mobile and weak, predisposed to a trauma.
2. Hip Extensors Stretches
- Hamstrings (back of your thigh) stretch (a) - You can use
any table or other piece of furniture sturdy enough to put your leg on. Do not use
anything too tall,
otherwise you will not be able to keep your leg straight. Stand
in front of it, put your leg on the top and keep it straight.
Keep your standing leg taut and lean forward from the
hips. Keep your back straight. When you feel a mild stretch hold it for 30 seconds.
Repeat on the other leg, hold longer for the stiffer leg.
- Hamstrings stretch (b) - Stand straight,
feet just slightly apart. Engage your leg muscles.
Create an abdominal push in your core and
bend down from the hips. Do not worry if you didn't go very far down. Do not try
to reach down with your arms. Instead of trying to pull your arms and shoulders down,
try to pull your pelvis down, which requires activating the hip flexors. It is hard at
the beginning to really feel them, but with practice you will get better. What we are
doing here is using our body weight to stretch the hamstrings. Hold for 30 seconds while
breathing into your stomach.
Do not lose abdominal push, otherwise this stretch can create
stress in your lower back.
- Hamstrings stretch (c) - Sit on the floor with your
back and legs straight, legs together. If your hamstrings are short you will not
be able to keep your back straight. In this case, choose another, more comfortable,
stretch for the time being.
Engage the front of your thighs to keep your knees straight and lean forward from the hips.
Do not try to reach your
toes with your hands, really concentrate on bending from the hips (same thing as with the standing hamstring stretch). Hold for 30 seconds, while
breathing into your stomach. Notice that with each exhale you can go down a little bit more.
- Buttocks stretch - Lay on your back, bring your knees toward
your chest and pull them down with your hands as much as you can. Keep your pelvis
on the floor, otherwise it will move up with the legs and causes you to lose the stretch.
Child's and pigeon Yoga poses and deep squats are also very good buttocks stretches.
2. Hip Flexors Stretches
- Modified Bridge - Lay on your back, bend your knees, and put your
feet slightly apart. Raise your hips in the air by squeezing your buttocks and engaging
back muscles. Lift as far as they go. Squeeze as much as you can with your buttocks.
Hold this position as long as you can, building up to 30 seconds. Repeat several times.
If you are familiar with Yoga, a full bridge is also a good stretching exercise for hip
- Cobra - Lay on your stomach, legs slightly apart, hands by your
Engage all of your leg muscles, especially buttocks. Create a light abdominal push.
Breathe into your stomach and slowly raise your head
and shoulders using your back muscles at first, then arms. Do not hang your upper
your arms. Instead, engage the muscles around your shoulders to keep the shoulders down and
the body up and
tall. Hold for several breaths. Slowly lower yourself down controlling the movement
with your back muscles.
Keep the abdominal push and the buttocks engaged all the time. Otherwise, your
lower back will arch more than it should and may sustain injury.
- Upward-facing dog - Start the same way as in Cobra. The only difference
is that your hands are beside your chest, not beside your shoulders. After you have raised your shoulders
you continue to push upwards with your arms until the pelvis starts raising off the floor. Hold for several breaths.
3. Adductor (inner thigh muscles) Stretches
- Adductor stretch (a) - Sit on the floor with your back straight.
Bend your knees, open them and let your feet meet sole to sole. Put your elbows on
your thighs (not knees!) and push down. At the same time, try to engage your
buttocks as much as possible to aid with the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds.
If your adductors are very short, it will be hard to sit in this position.
In this case, lay down on your back. Bend your knees, grab them with your hands
and pull them appart as much as you can. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Adductor stretch (b) - Sit on the floor with your back straight.
Put your legs apart and keep them straight. This exercise can be challenging for
someone with short hamstrings (back of your thigh). In this case, use the
previous exercises until you lengthen your hamstrings. Keeping your back
straight, lean forward from the hips. Watch out for the possibility of bending in
the middle of your back. If you do you will lose the purpose of the exercise. When you
start feeling a mild stretch hold it for 30 seconds.
3. Hip Rotators Stretches
- This exercise is one of my favorites.
I have discovered that it is great for stretching
the hip joint, especially small muscles inside your hip,
Sit with your back and
legs straight. Bend your right leg and put your right foot outside the left leg.
With your left
hand grab your right leg. Hold it and try to pull your right hip joint backwards.
You will immediately feel the stretch in your hip. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat on the other
side. Hold longer on the stiffer side.
Medial Rotators stretch - Sit on the hard chair - back straight, feet on
the ground, legs bent 90 degrees in the knees. Put your right ankle on your
left thigh, somewhere behind your left knee. Start
leaning slowly forward from the hips, keeping your back straight. When you feel
a moderate stretch, hold it for 30 seconds. Switch legs. Hold longer for the stiffer leg.
Irina Yastrebova, Riding Instructor and
My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me
to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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