Take a moment and bend forward. Does your body feel tight? If so, your hip flexors might need a good stretch. Despite the name, hip flexors aren’t all about the hips. These muscles connect the spine to the pelvis, thigh, and knee bones.1 Bending forward (and flexing your knees) wouldn’t be possible without them.2
Tight hip flexors are a major cause of back pain. It also increases the risk for injury, making it hard to do normal tasks. Plus, if you stand or sit all day at work, your hip flexors are probably tight. Do yourself a favor and stretch every day. You’ll feel so much better! To get started, try these 7 yoga poses that focus on hip flexors.
1. Butterfly Pose
Butterfly pose, or Baddha konasana, doesn’t look like much. However, it releases tension in the hips, groin, thighs, and knees and your hip flexors will love it.
- Sit down on the floor. Keep your back straight and tall.
- Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together.
- Move the heels toward the pelvis.
- Gently press the knees and thighs downward.
- Move the knees up and down, like a flapping butterfly.
- You can also sit and hold the pose, if that feels better.
2. Downward-Facing Dog Pose
The downward-facing dog, or Adho mukha svanasana, is a basic yoga pose and also a full-body stretch! Do this move to strengthen your back, legs, and hip flexors.
- Start on all fours.
- Place your heels on the mat and raise your hips up.
- Flatten your heels as best as you can.
- Straighten your back and knees. Your body should create an upside down “V” shape.
- Press your shoulders down and back.
- Hold your knees in between your arms. Don’t let it hang down.
3. Low Lunge Pose
For a gentle stretch, do the low lunge, or Anjaneyasana. It’ll loosen up the groin, thighs, and legs. If you can’t reach the floor, use a yoga block.
- Start in the downward-facing dog or Adho mukha svanasana.
- Step your right foot forward and in between your hands.
- Your right knee should make a strong 90-degree angle.
- Extend your left leg back and place the top of your left knee and foot on the mat.
- Keep your palms flat and firm.
- Lift your chest up and hold.
- Return to downward-facing dog. Repeat with alternate legs.
4. Standing Forward Bend Pose
Treat your hamstrings to standing forward bend, or Uttasana. But don’t worry if you can’t reach the floor. Over time, your hamstrings will become stronger and longer.
- Stand up straight in the mountain pose, or Tadasana.
- Place your feet side by side.
- Bend forward at the hips. Continue until your torso and thighs meet.
- Straighten the knees as much as possible.
- Hold your ankles or opposite elbows. You can also let them hang or touch the floor.
- Let your head hang down.
- To finish, bend the knees and raise up.
5. Seated Forward Bend Pose
Another variation is the seated forward bend, or Paschimottanasana. This move will also loosen your hamstrings, making it great for tight hip flexors.
- Sit on the floor. Keep your back straight and erect.
- Extend your legs straight out in front of you.
- Raise and stretch both arms upward.
- Bend forward at the hips, keeping your back straight.
- Hold the toes, ankles, or wherever your hands land.
6. Camel Pose
After all the forward bends, do the camel pose or Ustrasana. It’ll balance your practice by stretching your body in the opposite way. Your back, pelvis, and legs will benefit from this pose.
- Start in a high kneeling position. Your hips and knees should line up.
- Rest your palms at the base of your spine.
- Pull your elbows and shoulder blades toward each other.
- Rotate your thighs inward.
- Lift your chest and look up.
7. Bow Pose
The bow pose, or Danhurasana, is simple yet strong. Do it after you have warmed up with other poses. In just one move, every hip flexor muscle will get a nice stretch.
- Begin on the floor, lying face down.
- Bend your knees and keep them hip-width apart.
- Reach back and hold your ankles.
- Pull your feet away from your head.
- At the same time, lift your chest upward.
Hold each move for 3–5 breaths. Don’t forget to inhale and exhale. For healthy hip flexors, do these poses every day.