For as long as I can remember I’ve had tight hips, especially the right one.
I remember not being able to sit “criss cross apple sauce” in school because it was so uncomfortable.
Well before I got into fitness, I went to a physical therapist and all he told me was “you’re probably going to have arthritis someday in this right hip”.
He didn’t give me anything to do! What the heck.
I took matters into my own hands and started researching how to stretch your hips and that’s when I began experimenting with the best hip movement of all time…
If you are someone that sits all day and you can tell your hips are tight, these 90/90 variations are for you.
Beginner - Classic 90/90 stretch
Beginner - Hand supported rotating 90/90
Intermediate - 90/90 back foot raises
Intermediate - 90/90 rotations (no hand support)
Advanced - 90/90 with hip raise
Advanced - 90/90 back foot leg whips
Before we get into the different variations for how to stretch your hips, it’s important to understand what is causing them to get that way.
Most of the time our hips get tight because we spend extended amounts of time in a seated position, which shortens the muscles and causes them to deactivate.
Why should a muscle be activated and working when it doesn’t need to? Our body is smarter than that and has adapted to learn how to turn things off when they aren’t being used.
Not only will these stretches do wonders for you, but getting more daily movement will go a long way towards stronger, looser hips.
Pair these stretches with daily walks, your favorite physical hobbies, and lifting weights.
You’re about to learn how to stretch your hips using my favorite 90/90 variations.
It’s my favorite movement because of the multiple muscles it will stretch and how it will move your hips.
The benefits of stretching out your hips with the 90/90 movement include:
- Stretching your glutes, piriformis, hip abductors, hip adductors, psoas, and your hip flexors. Basically every muscle around the hip capsule!
- Moving your hip through different ranges of motion to target internal and external rotation.
- Allowing you to mix static stretching with dynamic movement stretches.
How To Stretch Your Hips - Beginner Movements
We’ll start with the most basic variation. This is for someone that has never done a 90/90 before. This is considered a static stretch since you are staying in one spot for the duration of the movement.
How to perform:
- Position both legs at 90 degree angles.
- Have your hands planted on each side of your leg and take a deep breath.
- As you exhale, keep your back flat drop your chest near your knee.
- You should feel the outer part of your hip being stretched.
- Continue with deep breaths and sinking your upper body lower (don’t round your back to get lower) into the ground for 60 - 90 seconds.
- Switch sides and repeat.
The next variation will be turning the movement into a dynamic stretch, meaning we are going to be moving the body instead of staying in the same place.
How to perform:
- Set your legs at 90 degree angles like in the last movement.
- Instead of having your chest over your knee, lean your chest back and place both hands behind you.
- With your feet not moving from the floor, lift both knees and rotate them to the other side, making a 90/90 angle in the opposite direction.
- Hold one second and then repeat the same thing to get back to the other side.
- That’s 1 rep. Perform 10 reps on each side.
How To Stretch Your Hips - Intermediate Movements
Now we are getting into slightly harder variations. When you’ve learned how to stretch your hips with the last two movements, you’ve focused mainly on your outer hips, using external rotation.
With this variation, we are going to target internal rotation, and let me tell you, you might cramp up doing this one!!
How to perform:
- Set up in a classic 90/90 position. Both legs are at a 90 degree angle and your hands are on each side of the front leg.
- Slightly learn forward (again, as if you are doing the classic stretch), but now I want you to lift your back ankle of the ground, without your knee raising.
- You should immediately feel a stretch in your inner hip. Hold that position for 3 - 5 seconds and then lower your foot back to the ground. Do 6 - 8 reps on that side and then rotate yourself over and do it again on the other side.
- A more advanced version of this would be to do the movement without your hands on the ground. As long as you can keep your torso upright and over your knee, give it a try.
If your hand supported 90/90’s went well, this will be the next progression. It’s the exact same movement, but instead of your hands being planted behind you, you’ll keep your chest over your knee and hands out to your side.
How to perform:
- Set up in a classic 90/90 position with both legs at a 90 degree angle.
- Keeping your torso straight, extend your arms out to your side. Do your best not to allow your midsection to lean to one side.
- When your chest is in line with your knee and your arms are extended, lift your knees off the ground (keep those feet planted!) and rotate yourself to the other side.
- Once you rotate and your chest is in line with the opposite knee, do the same movement to get back to the other side.
- That’s 1 rep. Perform 10 on each side.
Advanced Ways To Stretch Your Hip
You should only be trying these advanced movements if you can do the previous 4 stretches for all the prescribed reps WITH perfect form.
The rotating 90/90 with hip raise might be the hardest variation, and I could have easily put it last, but I’ll tell you why I didn’t in the next section.
This movement is the same as your rotating 90/90 from the intermediate movements, but now on each rep you will raise your hips off the ground into full extension.
How to perform:
- Start in your rotating 90/90 position. Legs 90 degrees, torso straight, and arms extended to your side.
- Perform a rotating 90/90 and once your knees are planted on the other side, use your glutes and hips to bring your butt off the ground.
- Push your hips forward as far as you can and then control yourself back to the ground.
- Rotate back to the other side and raise your butt off the ground again.
- Control back to the start and that’s one completed rep.
- Perform 6 - 8 on each side.
This movement is very difficult for me. As you can see in the picture above, my back isn’t straight as I begin to raise my butt off the ground. I’m slouched and leaning to one side, aka I’m compensating to get myself up.
If you were my client and did that, we would regress back to a slightly easier variation until you could perform this with perfect form.
How to stretch your hips will conclude with the 90/90 back foot leg whips. I put this one last because remember that hip cramp you may have experienced doing the back foot raises?
You might experience it with this one too, but even more intense!
How to perform:
- Start with your legs in 90 degree angles, chest over your knee, and arms extended.
- Lift your back knee and ankle so your whole bottom half of your leg is off the ground.
- Start whipping your leg around as you straighten it and tap the floor with your heel.
- Lift your heel as high off the ground as you can and start bending your knee as you rotate back to the start.
- When your knee and ankle touch the floor again, you should be back in your 90/90 pose.
- 6 - 8 reps on each side my friend!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should I Stretch My Hips?
There you have it! The 6 best 90/90 variations that will target multiple muscles around your hip and move your hips through different ranges of motion.
A common question is how often you should do these stretches.
The answer is…as much as you want!
Pick 2 exercise that you want to focus on and you can do them:
- First thing in the morning when you wake up.
- Throughout the day to give your hips a break if you’ve been sitting for an extended time.
- Before your workout as a warm up.
- Before you go to bed.
There’s no wrong time to do it and the more you do it, the better your hips will feel.
Thanks for reading! If you missed the link above and want to see these 6 variations in action, click the link below.
What Are The Signs Of A Tight Hip?
Signs that your hips may be tight include:
- Pain in your hip or lower back.
- Limited range of motion on movements such as squats or lunges.
- A sedentary lifestyle can lead to a feeling of tightness in the hip and surrounding areas.
- Inability to do certain stretches, such as 90/90's or pigeon pose.
How Do I Stretch Out Other Areas Of My Lower Body?
In order to help alleviate pain and tightness in your lower body, you might need to stretch additional areas besides the hips.
Adding in stretches for your hamstrings, lower back, and hip flexors, along with strengthening your inner thighs and glutes can go a long way to helping you feel your best.
Here are my best guides that will help you with those areas.
- How To Stretch Your Back To Help With Lower Back Pain
- How To Foam Roll Your Glutes
- Foam Roll Your Inner Thigh
- Back Friendly Leg Workout