5 Ways to Ease Sore, Stiff Hips

Mackenzie L. Havey
by Mackenzie L. Havey
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5 Ways to Ease Sore, Stiff Hips

While the hips are often overlooked by fitness-minded individuals looking to tone areas like the abs and glutes, they provide a vital foundation for many of the most common movements we make each day. Consider walking, bending over to pick something up or climbing a set of stairs — all involve adequate hip flexibility and range of motion. Whether you’re heading out for a jog or simply loading your kid into the car seat, poor hip mobility and mechanics can cause unnecessary pain and stiffness, thereby limiting a whole lot of common activities.

Consider low back pain, for instance. Research suggests most people suffer from it at some point in their lives. Interestingly, hip range of motion, or rather the lack thereof, has been linked to low back pain. What’s more, studies have also attributed patellofemoral pain syndrome to hip instability. Also known as “runner’s knee,” this is one of the most common running and walking injuries.

Whether you have a regular exercise routine already or are thinking about jumping into one, you’ll want to consider the health of your hips as you move forward. Try doing these five exercises 2–3 times per week, and you’ll notice a difference not only in workouts but also in everyday life.

1. Spiderman Stretch


This move will help stretch your hip flexors, which are essential to the flexion of the hip joint. Assume a push-up position, supporting your weight on your toes and the palms of your hands. Pick up your right foot and step it forward, planting it on the outside of your right hand. Hold for 3–5 seconds, flexing slightly forward to enhance the stretch. Return your foot to its original position, and repeat on the other side. Alternate sides 3–5 times.

2. Cross-Legged Forward Fold


This stretch gets at the back of the hips and glutes to open up your hips. Sit on the floor in a cross-legged position, with one ankle crossed in front of the other. Sit up straight with good posture, ensuring that your butt bones (or sit bones) are directly beneath your torso. Reach your arms out in front of your body as you lean forward to stretch toward the floor. Fold over as far as is comfortable, hold for 10 seconds and sit back up. Repeat 5 times.

3. Leg Swings


Leg swings help improve hip mobility, as well as train proper movement patterns. Start with forward leg swings to help mobilize your hip joint. Simply stand next to a wall for balance, and swing your right leg forward out in front of your body and then back behind your body. Keep your leg straight as you do this, and avoid swinging past the point of comfort. After repeating with both legs, switch to the sideways variety. Similar to forward leg swings, simply swing the right leg toward the left, sweeping your foot across the front or your body, and then back to the right. Repeat 15 times in each direction on each leg.

4. Walking Hip Stretch


This is another great active stretch. Walking forward, every two steps, alternate pulling either your right or left foot up toward your waist with the bent knee rotated outward. Hold for 1 second, and plant that foot back on the ground as your step forward. Repeat 10 times on each side.

5. Yoga Squat


This move is good for not only for hip mobility but also for loosening up the lower back and hamstrings. With feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly pointing outward, squat your backside down as far as possible. Place your palms on the floor in front of you, and straighten your legs until you’re in a forward fold. Squat back toward the ground, and slowly raise your body upward to the original position. Repeat 10 times.

About the Author

Mackenzie L. Havey
Mackenzie L. Havey

Mackenzie is a freelance journalist and coach based in Minneapolis. She contributes to a variety of magazines and websites, including TheAtlantic.com, OutsideOnline.com, espnW.com, Runner’s World and Triathlete Magazine. She holds a master’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota, and is a USA Track and Field certified coach. When she’s not writing, she’s out biking, running and cross-country skiing around the city lakes with her dog.


37 responses to “5 Ways to Ease Sore, Stiff Hips”

  1. Avatar Sarah Barres says:

    Another excellent blog post from MyFitnessPal! I suffer from hip soreness and stiffness so I found this article to be particularly helpful. The pictures and written explanation are quite clear. I’ll be incorporating these moves straightaway. Thank you for this!

  2. Avatar figanebella says:

    A very useful, well-detailed explanation with clear illustrative pics. Wow, my endless hip sore from running are gonna be over! Thanks so much.

  3. Avatar Charlotte says:

    Wow thank you!! Needed this!

    • Avatar John S Landbeck Jr says:

      I’m 75 next week; have dealt with lower back/hip issues like forever, it seems: I do most of what is shown, plus a few more, every AM; if I don’t, I guarantee I will be in serious pain within a day or two..
      I think the secret for us older folks is slowly working into the routine, and STOP if it actually starts to hurt: not talking about the stretching strain, but actually beginning of real pain.
      As my orthopedic doc says: eventually we will all suffer from “Too many candles on the cake syndrome”!
      John in Maryland

  4. Avatar Angie.Evan. says:


  5. Avatar M.Boom says:

    I really appreciate all the good stuff you guys outline here but I’m a guy in his 60’s who’s already had knee replacement. Most of your exercises are geared for the younger crowd and that’s cool. I’m not your average g’pa that doesn’t move either. I hope you can list a few knee friendly exercises from time to time that are intense enough to build strength in the leg and thigh muscles that aren’t always geared towards your 20 to 30’s crowd. Even though guys have knee issue from time to time. Thanks.

    • Avatar Ceecee says:

      I have suffered two compression fractures of the thoracic spine and have been told to avoid rounding the back, as is seen in these stretches.

    • Avatar Captain Jeff says:

      Look into taking a Yin yoga class in your area. Let the instructor be aware of your medical condition

  6. Avatar Delmarmama says:

    You can’t really have stiff hips and even do these exercises. This article should be titled – how to keep your hips from getting stiff. I agree with M.Boom below, some of us are a little older and a little stiffer, maybe at some point you could have some exercises for us.

  7. Avatar Ries!cor says:

    I, too, have had knee replacements. I look at theses exercises and just sigh. If I could even begin to assume those positions I wouldn’t be looking at this website for advice. It’s great for the beautiful people, I guess.

  8. Avatar Jeff says:

    My 13 year old daughter has been having hamstring and hip flexor problems, any advice would be great.

    • Avatar Brenda says:

      Hi. I never respond to these, but just did an account since your comment hit home. I have had serious back pain, IT, hamstring and piriformis muscle tightness from back surgery and being in a walking boot for 3 months with ankle surgery. Tried everything, then at PT one day, the guys had me try this strap to stretch with. The strap ($20) that has the best ever stretching guide. It has worked miracles for myself with my issues and my brother who is a runner. We are both in our early 50’s so not spring chickens, but the stretching is the best for anyone and I think it would be a good choice for your daughter. Hope it works, give it a try. It is simply called ‘the stretch out strap’ by dska. $20 and the BEST stretching guide EVER.

  9. Avatar Sharon says:

    To M.Boom
    I’m also in my 60’s and having a real hard time with my hips doing stairs, up or down. Sitting for over 15 minutes and then standing is almost unbearable. I’m going to try some of these stretches, VERY SLOWLY, and see how it goes. As long as my husband is around to help me get up off the floor, of course.

    • Avatar Constance Condit says:

      I agree some of these exercises are too aggressive for older or arthritic people. The Yoga Squat is down right dangerous.

  10. Avatar Heather L. Aleo says:

    NOPE! None of these stretches are good if you have rotated hips and frequent boughts of Bursitis! The positions above would send me into a painful induced freeze!

  11. Avatar Pamela Blizzard says:

    Golly folks, I’m in my 60’s and do all these things. I do lunges – well, lunge – very slowly as a yoga move; but totally do all the things, including the deep squat. Just Started slowly, with something under my rear to balance, and now can sit in that position and it does feel great and stretch and strengthen as it says above. You just have to start them and keep it up for years.

    • Avatar Pollgera says:

      Again, if your health is good, and you don’t have other physical issues you’ll be fine – a lot of us aren’t in that position. We can’t do these safely or without hurting ourselves further.

  12. Avatar AZ Patriot says:

    The majority of exercises shown here and other media are for younger people.
    These articles should include moderations. I hope Hello Healthy is paying attention to the needs of the readers.

  13. Avatar Kinisue says:

    I agree with M. Boom. I am 60+. I have issues with my knees and hips. A few months ago I tripped and tore groin muscles and the gluteous maximus. It has been a long time healing. It developed into Sciatica on both sides and then they discovered that I had fractured the big bone that looks like a cradle under the gluteous maximus. Sorry for some reason I cannot think of the name but it is technically the very last bone of the spine. I have been down with this since the first of March. I am in desperate need for strengthening all the muscles. I have had so much down time the muscles are definitely very week. Sorry for the length of this. The bottom line is for the senior frames we need to have stretches and strength building exercises.

  14. Avatar Jim Glinn Sr PT says:

    Agree with M. Boom regarding age appropriate exercises. As a 70 year old physical therapist, I view the spine and how it degenerates as key to older folks overall musculoskeletal health. The depicted exercises are all fine, but do very little to promote spinal erectness or extension.Nature is bending us forward-we need to counteract these forces. As to knee specific exercises for oldsters, suggest focusing on gluteal work, and progress. To knee specific stuff . The gluteals can usually be stressed vigorously in porograms, but stressing the quads before the gluten are robust usually leads to knee pain in those oldsters with a history of knee problems.

    • Avatar treydot says:

      Jim thank you for your response. I agree with the thread above. I am 63. I am beginning to develop kyphosis (curved upper back), probably from sitting at a desk for many years. I like your description of nature bending us forward, which aptly describes what I do at work, when I garden, or when I ride a bike. Any exercises you can recommend for expanding or extending the muscles and joints of the upper back. Would a roller be helpful?

  15. Avatar Katie says:

    I also agree with Mr Bloom. I’ve tried to follow various routines, only to get frustrated and give up, because they are too difficult for old bodies. Modifications would be very helpful, so that we don’t hurt ourselves doing them wrong. Maybe a senior section with less pretty young faces would be more inspirational. I am happy for the seniors that can do these things, but pointing it out is not helpful. Just makes me more frustrated because I can’t.

  16. Avatar Tanya says:

    It doesn’t matter how old you are, what matters is how healthy you are and have been. Everything with moderation and to the point of restrictions will work for anybody. Know your limitations and don’t baby yourself to much as you can be bed ridden if you feel sorry for yourself!!

    • Avatar Pollgera says:

      Baby your self? I think my doctor would look at it differently. Unless you walk in our shoes, and have our health issues don’t presume we’re babying ourselves. Some of us are in non-stop pain and the last thing we need to do is aggravate it.

    • Avatar Marie says:

      I agree with Tanya – if you don’t walk in our shoes don’t throw stones. At lease we are trying to improve our selves and not being couch potatoes. You need to take into consideration of those that have had hip replacements, knee replacements and spinal surgeries. We are limited to what we can do. Maybe you need to make a disclaimer that these exercises are not for those that have these surgeries.

  17. Avatar N Sedlow says:

    I am a 74 year old female who has had both knees replaced and spinal fusion due to stenosis. I agree with Mr. Boom these would be difficult, if not impossible for me to do as shown. But I can see ways that each of these could be modified to fit my situation. You don’t have to swing your legs has high or squat as low as shown. And a couple of these could be done sitting on a straight chair (walking hip stretch and cross leg forward fold). They may not be as effective as the ones shown but they will give you a good stretch. And just plain old walking is a good way to strengthen the legs and thighs.

  18. Avatar barb says:

    Thank u for posting I’ve put some of these in my work out and they have help .great .I’m 64 yrs old and had surgy and no movement for 2yrs .I’m just getting back to enjoy my life again .I have one foot broken real bad and a bad knee from sports engr when I was young and a hip that moves on the sideactedniver. And that’s gets pretty stuff when it’s gets cold out .so I do these every morning then go to golden zumba class and just now feeling like myself .so thank u

  19. Avatar Pollgera says:

    I’m going to echo some of the other comments, I’m older, with recite is in my hips, fibromyalgia, if you other fun things. All of your helpful information is geared to younger, healthy people. The rest of us can’t do these things, you’re ignoring a large part of your audience.

    • Avatar Brenda says:

      Hi. I just replied to a younger question, however there is hope and help for us as we get older. I am 54, severe arthritis, fused L5, S1, back surgery last year and 2 ankle surgeries all in the last 1 1/2 years. Extremely active entire life, no cartilage in knees, back and ankles from being active my entire life. Currently only problem is lower back pain from extremely tight IT, piriformis and hamstring. However, can’t give in. I have had serious back pain, IT, hamstring and piriformis muscle tightness from back surgery and being in a walking boot for 3 months with ankle surgery. Tried everything, then at PT one day, the guys had me try this strap to stretch with. The strap ($20) that has the best ever stretching guide. It has worked miracles for myself with my issues and my brother who is a runner. We are both in our early 50’s so not spring chickens, but the stretching is the best for anyone and I think it would be a good choice for your daughter. Hope it works, give it a try. It is simply called ‘the stretch out strap’ by dska. $20 and the BEST stretching guide EVER.

      • Avatar Dee says:

        Where can you purchase it at. I would love to try it. I have had multiple back surgeries ( T12 / L1 and 2x L3/L4 ) Also had foot surgery. They had to break my arch bone and raise it up. Something happened 3 1/2 weeks ago and I felt tremendous pain from my right butt cheek down the side of my right leg and into the side of my foot. My leg went numb from the back and outer side of my right knee going down to the foot and also my last 2 toes. The feeling is as if you would sit to long on the commode while going to the bathroom and your foot and leg would fall asleep, except mine will not wake back up. I think that my sciatic nerve is being compressed. Do you think that the strap might help un pinch the nerve?

  20. Avatar wootz says:

    I am 70 and have arthritis in both hips and knees – feel like I am rusted in place – maybe this will be my WD40

  21. Avatar DPT COMT CSCS says:

    MacKenzie credentials have been mostly track and field, contributing to runners and triathelon magazines (amongst others). Though she is a kinesiology major, my opinion is these are not appropriate for most who use this app/Web page. Dynamic stretching/warmups BEFORE exercise are much more beneficial at lubricating joints, improving capsular mobility, and preventing impingment/bursitis symptoms in seniors. The leg swing is the only exercise above fitting this, and is a great before exercise recommendation. If you have had surgeries, you should get exercises cleared by a medical professional familiar with your medical history. Otherwise you may be seeing them for a new injury. I haven’t been on this app long, and it has great information. I hope they do post something helpful for seniors.

  22. Avatar treydot says:

    After reading these comments, maybe Hello Heathy and MyFitnessPal, can implement a Blog for people who have had serious skeletal injuries and older folks. Maybe Underarmor (sponsor of the site and software), could find a market for athletic clothing for seniors. After all there are more and more of us.

  23. Avatar LIla T says:

    Great conversation here.

  24. Avatar MayaBee says:

    Exercise #2, crossed leg forward fold, has thrown my lower back out – not sure if this is a safe exercise

  25. Avatar aj2345 says:

    Man…it’s a lot of broken down people in the comment section!

  26. Avatar Toni Natoli says:

    As a licensed massage therapist with 30 years in practice treating pain and dysfunction, I find these recommendations alarming and inappropriate. Without proper assessment of the individual for ligamentous laxity, osteoarthritic changes, muscle imbalances to name just a few, these movements can be very dangerous and could cause injury. I could write an essay on the hazards of each of these 5 but I’ll end with this: movement is complex and most people need to unlearn patterns with a lot more information than is provided here. See someone face to face who can teach you safe movement for your specific body and its unique issues!

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