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Key Stretches for Runner's Hips

As a runner, having flexible hips is crucial for optimal performance and injury prevention. Tight hip flexors, adductors, abductors, and rotators can restrict range of motion, shorten stride length, and cause pain or discomfort. Implementing a regular hip mobility routine can alleviate tightness, improve joint range of motion, and allow you to run faster and farther without pain. If you experience persistent tightness or discomfort, contact Performance Care Stretch Clinic for a consultation about professionally assisted stretching designed for your specific needs.

Man assisting stretching for hips

Hip Flexor Stretches

The hip flexors are a group of muscles located at the front of the hip that allow you to lift your knees and bend at the waist. When tight, they can tilt the pelvis forward, arch the lower back, and limit hip extension when running. This section outlines key stretches to improve hip flexor flexibility.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

This stretch targets the iliopsoas, the primary hip flexor muscle.

  • Kneel on one knee with the other foot planted in front of you.

  • Contract your glutes and push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your grounded hip.

  • Hold for 2 seconds, perform 10 reps and repeat on the other side.

Lunge Hip Flexor Stretch

The low lunge stretch hits the hip flexors and quadriceps in a functional, running-specific position.

  • From a split stance, drop your back knee towards the ground.

  • Lean your torso upright, avoiding an arched lower back.

  • Hold for 45-60 seconds before repeating on the other leg.

Hip Adductor Stretches

The inner thigh adductors must be loose and pliable to allow adequate hip abduction on each stride. Limited adductor flexibility causes a narrow, inefficient running gait.

Wide-Stance Squat

This move stretches the adductors and internal hip rotators.

  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart.

  • Push your knees outward as you squat down.

  • Hold the bottom position for 2 seconds, return to the start and repeat on the other side.  Perform 10 reps.

Butterfly Stretch

Sitting in a butterfly position targets the inner thigh adductors.

  • Sit upright with the soles of your feet together.  Contract your glutes to assist in bringing the knees toward the ground.

  • Use your elbows to gently press your knees downward into a stretch.

  • Hold for 2 seconds, repeat 10 times.

Hip Abductor Stretches

The outer hip abductors stabilize the pelvis and hip joint during running. Weak or tight abductors are linked to common overuse injuries like IT band syndrome.

Side-Lying Inner Thigh Stretch

Lying on your side makes it easy to target the outer hip abductors.

  • Lie on your side and rest your head on your bottom arm.

  • Bend your top knee and grab behind that thigh with your top arm.

  • Gently pull your leg towards your chest until you feel the outer hip stretch.

  • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Seated Abductor Stretch

This move uses bodyweight to load a dynamic stretch into the lateral hip.

  • Sit with one leg extended to the side and the other knee bent.

  • Lean your torso towards the straight leg until you feel a stretch along the outer thigh.

  • Hold, then gently pulse up and down for added mobility.

Keep Moving

Incorporating hip stretches into your training routine is vital for maintaining joint health and reaching your running potential. The techniques outlined above provide an effective, full-body hip mobility program to alleviate stiffness, improve functionality in the sagittal and frontal planes, and set your hips up for running success. Stick to these key stretches before and after running, and be sure to add hip-strengthening exercises as well. With consistent training, you’ll be running fluidly and pain-free in no time. If you continue experiencing hip tightness or pain, reach out to Performance Care Stretch Clinic for personalized assisted stretching.


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