A Pain-Relieving, Solo Hip Flexor Stretch You’ll Really Love

Sydney Articles, Video Training 89 Comments

Whether you run long distance, sit in a chair all day, or find yourself somewhere in between those extremes, today I’m going to show you a key stretch that is going to make you feel fantastic!

Our challenging modern lifestyle pretty much guarantees we’ll need to stretch our hip flexors if we want to relieve pain and avoid creating chronic issues in our backs and legs.

Symptoms of Hip Flexor Issues

The hip flexors work in concert to move your leg when walking or running and are responsible for moving your leg up toward your chest.

You might imagine that your hip flexors get tight from overuse, and while that is true, your hip flexors can actually get so tight from underuse that they actually stop other muscles in your body from working.

You can tell you might have tight hip flexors if you feel discomfort in the front of the hip that feels worse when moving the leg toward your chest, or if you have difficulty taking your leg behind your body and feel your low back working in order to do so.

Underdoing It is Just as Bad as Overdoing It

Chronic sitting makes the muscles in the crease of your hips, your hip flexors, short and tight. When your hip flexors get too tight, it changes your posture by pulling your body forward, or pulling the top of your hip bones forward, which increases the curve in your low back. Tight hip flexors can even stop your deep glutes from activating when you walk!

If this happens, not only can your bottom become flat and flabby, but back pain and or discomfort generally follow.

Attention, desk jockeys, you’re making your hip flexors tight by sitting for such long periods of time without a stretch and today’s video is definitely for you!

The most effective hip flexor stretches are done with a partner. But, since it’s not always convenient to have a partner help you with a stretch, this video will show you the most effective solo hip flexor stretch I know.

Check it out!

And if you follow along with the video above and try this exercise, I’d love to hear how it goes. Or if you have a favorite hip flexor stretch that’s different from this one, I’d love to hear that too! Let’s talk about it in the comments below…

See you in the studio,
Sydney

Anatomy images courtesy of Visible Body

Comments 89

  1. Hi,

    I’ve been trying this stretch out for a couple weeks and I’m liking it. Hips are starting to feel looser (I think, it’s something new for me!). At the moment I do it 3-4 times a week as about a half minute hold, with a gentle knee flex towards the end.

    I find that when placing the rear leg at the start, I get quite a stretch in the hamstring of the leg that’s placed next to my hands, almost limiting how far back I can put the rear leg. Is that normal or a sign of tight hamstrings? Can you recommend a good h/s stretch?

    Thanks again, really appreciate your tips and videos.

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      Hi Greg,

      It is normal to feel a stretch in the leg placed by the hands if your hamstrings are tight. I’ll be posting a video of a highly effective hamstring stretch later this month. So keep your eyes peeled! If you want to know as soon as the video is posted, enter your email at the top of the page and you’ll be the first to know.

      Thank you for your comment and question. I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts!

  2. AWEsome, looking forward to it! Thanks again!
    I also just want to say, I think the videos are very nicely done. They look high quality, very professional and I appreciate the little touches like the 3D-ish graphics showing the bone/muscle structure that is relevant.

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  3. The moment I finished the stretch, I could feel a major difference! When I touch the junction between my hips and thighs, the side I stretched was flatter than the one that was not. Is this normal?

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      Sounds like you got a release in your hip crease. When tension is released from muscle and fascia it is normal for that area to feel flatter.
      Great question Lidya. Thank you!

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  4. I recently injured my SI joint – I could not sit, stand or walk without pain. I had an adjustment by a chiropractor which helped but 24 hours later I was experiencing horrible pain in my low back and in my hip flexors again. I came across your video and did the stretch 2x for 2 days and the release was amazing – the pain subsided by 80% now I’m able to sit, walk and stand w/o crutches and all the pain! This is the second time I have experienced this injury – do you have other suggestions on how to strengthen my body to prevent repeat injury? Thank you Sydney.

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  5. I have been suffering on and off for years due to both aggressive workouts and sitting for long periods at a desk job. This is truly the only stretch that gave me immediate relief. Thank you!

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  6. I just tried this stretch after noticing lower back pain and extreme hip tightness. After doing it my hips popped which is something that usually happens but I haven’t been able to do in quite some time due to the tightness! Thank you for this video! Pictures with descriptions are never enough for me to feel like I’m doing the stretch correctly!

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  7. Hi this is a great stretch. I’ve recently started jogging and I’ve always had issues with my left leg stiffness and slight uneven gait and noticed it correlated to low back pain the worse my back pain the more stiff my leg. I tried this stretch, when I did the left side I could barely put my forearms on the floor when I had no problem with the right and there was a much bigger stretch in the left. So my problem must be the hip rather than the back or leg. I usually always fold the left leg under me when I sit and noticed I fold it up when I’m sleeping too so it must have become tight over the years.

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      Hi Caitlin, thank you for your feedback! When you start noticing the things you’re doing daily,in the way you sit, stand and even sleep, that’s creating imbalance, you are on the road to making lasting change toward a balanced body. Way to go!

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  8. Hi Sydney.
    I just recently strained my hip flexor to the point that I have to acute pain. Especially at night. So much so is it that I have no choice but to use my arms to lift my leg. I cannot help the limp either and certain movements I feel like the leg will give way. Basically the pain is keeping me awake at night. Now, I am self diagnosing here but I do believe that I have ruptured the area.
    Does this all sound familiar to you and if so would stretching it at this early point,(2days since injury), incur more damage or help with healing, also considering I will be putting it under physical duress again once healed. Running and kicking. Ps I have been icing it.
    Your advice would be appreciated.
    Kind regards
    Richard

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      Hi Richard, without seeing you I can’t give you any advice. But from what you describe, it would be a good idea to talk with an osteopath and go from there. I wish you all the best and hope you are feeling better soon.

  9. I broke my hip some time back. I have extreme tightness in my left hip to a point where it affects my walk. I have a terrible sway because of it pulling on my lower back. I am going to start trying this at home tonight. Hopefully I will have a good report soon!

    Tim

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      Hi Tim, I’d love to hear how it goes. We’ve also got a standing hip flexor stretch coming up next week that will be great to alternate with this stretch. If you sign up for email updates at the top of this page you’ll be first to know when the new stretch is posted! 🙂

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  10. Thank you for sharing this stretch.

    I’ve been doing this each evening for the past few days and I found that at first I couldn’t even place the palms of my hands flat onto the floor.

    But it’s getting easier each time I try it.

    This has made me even more aware that working at a desk all day and commuting in a car has really affected my suitability.

    Regards,

    Steve in the UK.

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  11. hi Sydney
    i have a really tight back and hip flexors so when I do this stretch, i feel some strain in my back and my front leg seems to externally rotate. is it possible to do this with my hands raised? on a block for example… thanks

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  12. Hi, Thank you for this video– it was great. I loved the bicep demonstration and the tip to walk around after stretching. Do you have a recommendation for a very deep hip flexor stretch (I’m trying to do front splits) that does not require one to hold oneself up? My arm and leg muscles get really tired while holding most deep hip flexor stretches, and I can’t focus on the stretch as much. Thank you.

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      Hi AG, a partner assisted hip flexor stretch is going to be your best bet. But, you could also use a bolster or blanket in this stretch to rest yourself on once your in the final position and change your hand position so that you have one hand on either side if the from foot.

  13. Oh my goodness!! Thank you so much! Immediate relief the first time I did this! I was in tears!! My back pain has been interfering with my workouts and this is just incredible!! So relieved!! Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!!

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  14. Well, I don’t experience any sort of pain due to APT but it’s pretty obvious that I do have APT because I have a protruding lower tummy and an over arched lower back. And I have a female butt. I really hate how I look right now and I want to fix it ASAP.

    So the title of the video indicates that it is meant to relieve pain associated with tight hip flexors. My question is, does it correct my ‘fantastic’ posture. This is very important to me because I started working out and I realize that APT would significantly affect my back workouts.

    So is this the right workout or is there another variation?

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      Hi Edmund, Tight hip flexors can create an anterior pelvic tilt. Releasing them can make it much easier to correct your alignment. This video also has a tip for correcting your standing posture. Hope it helps!

  15. Hi there, I have done yoga for years & still do. I do sit and lie a lot to read now though. I did the hip stretch but the top sides of my legs radiating also toward the front of my legs is still extremely tender. I feel my problem may not be Hip flexors at all as I regularly do a yoga Pigeon pose to relieve them. Any ideas please, I’d be so grateful, a body can only take so much Iboprufen:(. Regards, Caz

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  16. Hi Sydney
    I AM On Bedrest With My Right Leg Elevated, While Recovering From Ankle Surgery. I Do A Standing Modification Of This Stretch By Lifting The Injured Right Leg While Leaning Down To Brush My Teeth And Pulsing It Up Gently (Think Warrior 3). It Helps But Not Enough. I Can’t Put Any Weight On The Ankle & I Use Crutches When I Have To Walk. Any Suggestions?

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      Hi Iorena, Here’s a standing version of a hip flexor stretch. You could try a modified version of this stretch with your knee and shin resting on a stool or chair and your foot and ankle hanging off. You’ll want to make sure you have a wall or countertop close by to use for balance. Thank you for your question. Best of luck with your recovery!

  17. Sydney, I was in the Marine Corps for 8 years and developed hip, knee and back problems. When I was going to physical therapy, they used to do what they called “releasing” my hip flexors, because they were so tight. Do you know what that is and how it’s done? I can’t find anything on it.
    Thank you

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  18. Hi,

    I’m dealing with several pelvic instability issues since childbirth. It took 4 months of physio just to get my trans abs to turn on at all. I get a lot of hip and si joint pain and I can’t even lay on my back and lift one foot off the ground without my hips torquing and shoulders compensating. Over tight hip flexors are a big part of this, but any type of stretch I do just hinges my low back without stretching the hip flexors at all. A combination of Amy steins book ‘heal pelvic pain’ and this video have made it possible for me to get some progress in stretching those flexors on my own. Thank you! And please, let me know if there might be some other resources I can ask my doctor about!

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      Hi Ashley, I’m glad you found this stretch helpful and I’ve heard great things about Amy Stein’s book. If there’s an instructor in your area who has been through Marie-José Blom’s Core Intelligence course, they would be great to go see. Thanks so much for your feedback!

  19. I just cant believe the relief I got by using your wonderful technique. You presented it very well and yes you looked so beautiful 🙂 Thanks a lot

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  20. First of all thank you so much for this video. I’ve been suffering from hip flexor pain for 3 years with increasing intensity after engaging in high impact sports. This stretch is the only thing that has helped instantly. I now feel a grateful tickle in my low back where it normally hurts 🙂

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  21. Wow, love this stretch. Thank you Sydney. Very nice professional video too 🙂

    Working an office job, riding a motorbike and watching TV has left my left hip been in constant horrible pain for the past 6 months with all the sitting. I have tried everything but found great relief from this stretch. So grateful.

    Would three times per week be enough to do this? Thanks again.

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      Hi Simon, You could practice this stretch 3 times a week with the contraction for sure, but you could practice the stretch without the contractions on the other days too.
      Thanks for your feedback!

  22. HI Sydney.

    Many thanks for this info i have a bulging disc in l4/l5 and partake in taekwondo recently i have a trapped nerve and my hip flexors seem extremely tight as if switched on permanantly . Have you any advice as the surgeons want to fuse my spine which i want to avoid . Im also getting trapped nerves in my neck/shoulder area .

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  23. Hi Sydney,

    Great video. Thanks for this. Love the stretch. How many contractions should I do during one stretch? Just one contraction, then release and hold for time? Or, contract, release, contract, release several times.

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      Hi Greg, I would start out with one contraction and then hold the final stretch position for 5-8 full and slow inhales and exhales. If you’re comfortable in the stretch, you could certainly add another contraction, and hold again for another 5-8 breaths. Great question! Thank you!

  24. My deep six muscles are so tight I cannot lift my feet off the ground even an inch or two. My therapist has been in practice for 12 years and said he has never felt muscles so tight. My question is whether it is safe to stretch muscles that need to be released first. I don’t want to go from bad to worse. Will this release or just stretch already tight muscles?

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      Hi Sue, This exercise targets the hip flexors and is more of an active stretch than a passive release. If you’re looking for an exercise to help with releasing your deep six rotators in the back of your hips the exercise in this video will be more beneficial. Thanks for your question!

  25. I have suffered with my lower back for the last 3 years. I have had extensive physio and private Pilates tuition which did improve my back probably 50%. I still suffered with a lot of sciatica type pain in my front upper legs. I was prescribed amitriptyline to try and manage this but before I started taking it I searched the the internet for any other solutions. I came across this stretch and have been doing it ever since. That was approx. 3 months ago and I noticed improvement within two weeks. I never took the amitriptyline and I hardly ever have sciatica pain now and my back continues to improve. I would now say my pain is 80% better – thanks for sharing this it has made such a difference to me.

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  26. I’m a classic desk junkie, averaging 12 hours a day because of work. About three years ago, the front of my right hip started bothering me. Not bad enough to go to a doctor but just nagging pain especially with walking (hurts on pushoff) and going up stairs. Sleeping was especially painful sometimes. Eventually I started thinking I should talk to my doctor about this but I first wanted to educate myself on what possibly was wrong and that brought me to your video. As soon as I watched it I got on the hard floor and tried out the stretch and then walked around a bit. No pain! After two weeks and four or five stretches, still no pain! I have yet to be woken up from sleep by hip pain.

    All I can say is WOW! I am otherwise healthy and keep myself in shape but my hip was driving me crazy and to think such a simple thing could cure it is truly amazing.

    Thank you so much for this video. It was exactly what I needed.

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  27. I`ve been having front hip pain that radiates down my groin and inner thigh for 3 years (right leg). Through the years I have been to a number of therapists, but they have all been focusing on my thigh (as they can`t find anything wrong with my hips or pelvis). Triggerpoint therapy on my thigh has helped my thigh pain, but it never lasts for long. Which makes me sure that the pain is due to something elsewhere, and since my hip is hurting I`m guessing that`s the source. After a lot of reading I have come to the conclusion that I`m quite sure that it`s a tendonosis in my psoas/illipsoas. However, no matter what I do (stretching, including the one you`ve posted here, rest, exercises for the hip/pelvis area) nothing seems to work. I`m more of a over-flexible person, so I don`t think it`s due to tightness. Do you have any advice on what I can do to fix this?

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      Hi Eva, without seeing you it’s difficult to give you specific suggestions. But, if you have joint laxity, that does make stretching more challenging and it’s possible to have a hidden tightness contributing to your issue. Frequently the cause of the issue is actually coming from the opposite side from where the pain shows up. Learning how to stabilize your pelvis via your multifidus/TA and psoas connections would be great places to start. Thanks for your feedback and question!

  28. I get bad pain deep in the sides of my hips at night, so bad it wakes me several times and is only relieved by getting up and stretching my hips and lower back. Would this stretch or any of your other ones help if I did it before going to bed? Thankyou, Tania

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  29. This is a very helpful video. Thank you. I was looking for something to relieve pressure/pain around my knee, which seems to originate in the hip flexor. Any other suggestions most welcome.

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  30. Hi,am new to this exercise but find the hip flexor stretch very helpful.Doing it twice or thrice a week and feel the hips have opened up….. stiffness is more on the right hip though . Also not able to keep the hands down fully and am having to use the fingers.
    hopefully with time it will improve.
    Thanks. a lot.

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  31. Hi Sydney,
    I think I may have strained my hip flexors running about a month ago and I am wondering if stretching would be good for them or if I need to wait a while and let them heal.

    Thanks,
    Ashley

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      Hi Ashley, It really depends on the severity of the strain. Without seeing you I’m unable to give any specific advice. I would check with a medical professional for suggestions.
      I wish you all the best!

  32. Very grateful to you for this video and the standing one. I have hip dysplasia and injured my right hip flexor last year (carrying new baby and too many bags, I think), ending up in hospital and then resting for two weeks to heal. When the left one went last weekend and I could barely walk, I thought uh-oh, another two weeks’ rest needed. But then I discovered your video and gave it a try, and within a day I was so much improved, and now, just a few days later I am completely back to normal. It’s so true what you say – sometimes it’s inactivity that’s the problem. I recently returned to work after a very active maternity leave spent walking a few miles each day and I realise that this time my flexor had become too tight from hours spent sitting with my laptop. Thank you for getting me back to normal!

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  33. I’m loving this hip flexor stretch. I’m a very keen and athletic cyclist with a full time job sitting at a desk. I’ve noticed that my left foot keeps pointing down while cycling and my left hamstring gets really tight at the same time. When I try to force my foot back into a flatter position, the centre of the foot tends to shift towards the left (left foot) as if it tried to push the left knee towards the left. It’s uncomfortable but not painful at all. I’m told it may be due to weakness and/or tightness in the left hip flexor, would that make sense? I’ve tried your stretch and it seems to also stretch the leg that has the foot close to the hands. I’m doing it for 60 seconds but could hold for longer. Should I? And can I do it every day or is it not recommended? If you have another stretch to recommend for quads and hamstrings, that would be amazing!
    Thank you.
    Paul

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      Hi Paul, Sixty seconds is a good amount of time to hold, especially if you’re breathing easily and relaxing into the exercise. If you’re sitting a lot during the day, a daily hip flexor stretch can be very beneficial. I would do the Solo Hip Flexor Stretch twice per week and on the other days practice this kneeling hip flexor stretch. From what you describe with your foot, it sounds to me as though your feet and calves need some attention. Here’s a blog post that takes you through a series of four exercises. (If you are short on time, focus on the second and third videos in the post.) And here’s a link to my favorite quad stretch and a great hamstring stretch. Hope these help and thanks for your comment!

  34. I had back pain for almost 2 years before the chiropractor recommended a massage therapist. She was the one that found it was a hip flexor issue. With her help, I was able to get the pain in check. Then things got busy, and the pain came back. However, there is now another issue – tailbone pain. Can tailbone pain be a related issue to the hip flexor?

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      Hi Emily, It really depends on what phase you’re in with your labrum tear. I would check with your doctor first to see if you are ready for hip flexor stretches.
      Thanks for your question!

  35. I am so happy I found this video. I have tried different stretches for my hips a lower back but I can’t believe it but I got immediate relief from this stretch. Can’t wait to see the long term effects. Thank you,

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  36. I have been having hip flexor pain for almost a year. I have been sitting more lately especially since my diagnosis with Hypermobility EDS and several doctors either advising against stretching or exercises or both. I tried the stretch one time and felt immediate relief. I will have to keep it up if it is much more promising than anything else I’ve tried. I’ve decided to start stretching again. I was/am a dancer and the advice to stop stretching has been hard and feels to contrary to what my body wants.

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      Hi Stacia, I’m so glad to hear this exercise provided you some relief! I’ve found the alignment points Katy Bowman uses especially helpful when working with people who have EDS. You might want to check out her work and see if it resonates with you. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

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  37. Wow. just tried this. Been doing the upright version but it wasn’t effective. This really isolated a very tight and unhappy flexor on my left side. Provide some near instant relief. Hopefully will continue!

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