How to Do a Hip Flexor Stretch: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a hip flexor stretch to help with hip pain and mobility, plus modifications to make it easier or harder.

Published Date: Apr 21, 2023
hip flexor stretch
Table of Contents

The hip flexors are a group of four muscles along the front of your upper thigh. They are responsible for helping you bring your leg and knee toward your body. Next time you take a step forward, go up a step, or kick a soccer ball with your child, thank your hip flexors. 

The hip flexors are typically used a lot in daily activities. This means that they are incredibly strong muscles, though that also leaves them open to occasional pain or injury, such as hip flexor strain

Although your hip flexors are strong, resilient, and fully capable of bouncing back from pain and injury, there are steps you can take to help prevent pain from occuring in the first place. One of the easiest and most effective ways is by doing a hip flexor stretch. 

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What Is the Hip Flexor Stretch?

The hip flexor stretch is ideal for people who have to sit for long periods, whether at a desk, in a car, or somewhere else. You can do it several times a day to prevent and manage hip pain, as well as improve hip and lower back mobility. 

What Muscles Do Hip Flexor Stretches Work? 

The hip flexor is a group of four muscles that sits at the front of the upper thigh. These muscles include the iliacus, psoas major, rectus femoris, and sartorius. The iliacus and psoas major are the primary hip flexors. They’re responsible for stability and flexibility, helping you pull your thigh up toward your body during movements like walking, sitting, and standing. The rectus femoris helps you extend your hip and knee. And the sartorius helps flex the hip and knee, and externally rotate the hip.  

Hip Flexor Stretch Benefits

Staying in the same position for a long time can cause muscles to tense and joints to get stiff. In particular, being seated can put your hip flexors in a slightly more compressed position than usual and cause them to shorten and tighten up. 

The hip flexor stretch counteracts the effects of being in the same position for a long time, which helps to improve mobility of your hips and lower back. It may help: 

  • Reduce pain and stiffness when you stand up from a seated position

  • Make it easier to pick something up from the ground

  • Make it easier to go up and down stairs

  • Make it easier to do activities like running and biking 

  • Improve your ability to rotate your hips 

  • Prevent pain from affecting your low back (since low back and hip pain often occur together) 

Hip Flexor Stretch: Exercises and Modifications 

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip Flexor Stretch

To do a hip flexor stretch: 

  • Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. 

  • Step forward with one foot and bend your front knee slightly, keeping your back leg straight. 

  • Push your hips forward until you feel a stretch through the front of your back leg’s hip. 

  • Keep your chest upright and hold for a few seconds. 

  • Push through your front foot to take a step back and return to your starting position. 

It can be hard to know how far you should push into a stretch. It shouldn’t be painful, but a little discomfort is where growth and recovery happen. Taking a few deep breaths may help your muscles relax and make the stretch more comfortable. 

Everyone is different, which is why you may need to modify the hip flexor stretch to meet your needs. 

Hip Flexor Stretch Modifications

Hip Flexor Stretch Modifications

Hip Flexor Stretch Modifications

Hip Flexor Stretch Modifications

To make the hip flexor stretch easier:  

  • Hold on to a sturdy surface, such as a table or doorway, to help with your balance while you perform the stretch. 

  • Raise your back heel off the floor. 

To make the hip flexor stretch harder: 

  • Take a slightly bigger step forward. 

  • Reach the arm opposite the leg you step forward with up and straight over your head.   

You can apply one of the above modifications to make the stretch easier or harder, or multiple modifications at once. 

How Hinge Health Can Help You

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you.

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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References

  1. Four Hip Flexor Stretches to Relieve Tightness, from a PT. (2022, February 22). Hospital for Special Surgery. https://www.hss.edu/article_hip-flexor-stretch.asp 

  2. Kim, B., & Yim, J. (2020). Core Stability and Hip Exercises Improve Physical Function and Activity in Patients with Non-Specific Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine, 251(3), 193–206. doi:10.1620/tjem.251.193

  3. Coyle, P. C., Knox, P. J., Pohlig, R. T., Pugliese, J. M., Sions, J. M., & Hicks, G. E. (2021). Hip Range of Motion and Strength Predict 12‐Month Physical Function Outcomes in Older Adults With Chronic Low Back Pain: The Delaware Spine Studies. ACR Open Rheumatology, 3(12), 850–859. doi:10.1002/acr2.11342

  4. de Sousa, C. S., de Jesus, F. L. A., Machado, M. B., Ferreira, G., Ayres, I. G. T,. , de Aquino, L. M., Fukuda, T. Y., & Gomes-Neto, M. (2019). Lower limb muscle strength in patients with low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interactions, 19(1), 69-78.