Easy Stretches for Hip Pain

Plus strengthening exercises to improve hip mobility and discomfort

Hamstring stretches, hip flexor stretches, straight leg raises, and bridges are just some of the exercises and stretches for hip pain. By keeping your hip joint limber and strong, you can improve your mobility, help with hip range of motion, and alleviate pain.

Hip pain stretches and other moves may be recommended by a physical therapist (PT) if you experience hip pain due to an injury, a condition like osteoarthritis or rheumatic disease, or general muscle tightness.

Read on to learn how to do eight different resistance exercises and stretches for hip pain, including those mentioned above.

Be sure to get the "all clear" from your healthcare provider before starting any new physical activity. They may suggest skipping some moves or adding others based on your specific needs.

4 Stretches for Hip Pain

When stretching for hip pain, move slowly into each position until you feel a mild pulling sensation around the target area. Hold each stretch for about 60 seconds and then slowly move out it. Stretches for hip pain can be done daily.

A word of warning: Stretching too aggressively or bouncing while you stretch may injure muscle tissues. An excessive tug or pull on a muscle may cause damage, leading to more pain and decreased overall mobility.

If you feel pain while stretching your hip, stop and check in with your PT. Some stretches for hip pain can be modified to allow you to safely stretch without pain.

Hamstring Stretch

Man performing a hamstring stretch

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Your hamstrings attach to the pelvis behind your hip. These muscles work to bend your knees and extend your hips.

Tightness here may cause pain in the back of your hips and limit your ability to move normally.

To effectively stretch your hamstrings:

  1. Lie on your back with both knees out straight.
  2. Bend one leg so that the bottom of the foot rests against the other straightened leg's mid-thigh/knee region.
  3. With your hands, reach towad the straightened leg's foot until you feel a stretch in the straightened leg.
  4. Hold the stretch for 60 seconds.
  5. Repeat three times for each side.

If you cannot get into the bent position, keep both legs wide and straight. Reach for one foot at a time.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Woman performing a hip flexor

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Your hip flexors are muscles located in the front of your hip and thigh. They are often tight in those who have arthritis or sit a lot.

To stretch your hip flexors:

  1. Place one knee on the floor and rest your foot behind you. Bend the other knee so that your other foot is front of you.
  2. Keep your shoulders and chest up high; tighten your abdominals.
  3. Slide your body forward until you feel a slight pull in the front of your hip and thigh of the leg that is on the floor. (Intense pain means you're stretching too far. In this case, reduce the amount you slide forward or stop the stretch.)
  4. Hold the position for 60 seconds.
  5. Repeat three times for each side.

If your knee on the floor is painful, place a small pillow underneath it to provide a cushion.

Iliotibial Band Stretch

Women performing lying IT band stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The iliotibial band is a thick band of fascia that courses from your lateral hip to your lateral knee. It does not contract, but it attaches to muscles that do. Pain in your iliotibial band may be felt in your lateral hip.

To stretch your iliotibial band:

  1. Lie on your side.
  2. The side that you wish to stretch should be on top.
  3. Keep your bottom knee bent for stability. Reach back and grab the ankle of your upper leg and bend your knee. You should feel a pull in the front of your thigh (the quadriceps muscle).
  4. While keeping your knee bent, gently rest the foot of your bottom leg on top of your upper knee. Use your foot on top of your knee to slowly pull your upper knee down toward the floor. (You should feel a pulling sensation on the side of your kneecap where the iliotibial band crosses the knee joint.)
  5. Hold this position for 60 seconds and then relax.
  6. Repeat this stretch three times.

Piriformis Stretch

Man performing piriformis stretch

Lippinocott Williams & Wilkins / Wolters Kluwer Health

Your piriformis muscle is a small, pear-shaped muscle deep in your posterior hip. It resides near the sciatic nerve and often gets tight if you have hip pain due to sciatic nerve irritation.

To stretch your piriformis:

  1. Lie on your back with your feet flat and both knees bent.
  2. Cross one leg over the other bent knee, resting your ankle on your thigh just above your knee.
  3. Place your hands under the thigh of the bent knee with your foot flat.
  4. Pull your thigh up toward your chest. You should feel a stretch in the back of your hip near your buttocks of the foot that is crossed on top.
  5. Hold the stretch for 60 seconds.
  6. Repeat three times.

If your sciatic nerve is irritated, this stretch may aggravate it further, causing pain or tingling in your leg. In that case, release the stretch a bit. If pain or tingling persists, see your physical therapist.

4 Strengthening Exercises for Hip Pain

Hip pain stretches can help by keeping the muscles that support the joint healthy and flexible. Resistance exercises can further help hip pain by improving stability around the joint. This can relieve pressure from nerves and ligaments and improve mobility of your hips.

These hip pain exercises can be done three to four times each week.


Woman performing a glute bridge

DjordjeDjurdjevic / Getty Images

The bridge exercise strengthens your gluteus and hamstring muscles that support the back of your hips. To perform the bridge:

  1. Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Engage your abdominals.
  3. Slowly lift your buttocks by pressing your heels down into the floor.
  4. Lift your hips up until your body is in a straight line with your knees, hips, and back.
  5. Hold this position for three seconds. Slowly lower back down.
  6. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions.

Some people with low back pain may have a difficult time performing the bridge and may need to dial back the challenge a bit. A safer alternative may be performing a posterior pelvic tilt.

When the bridge becomes easy, you can make it more challenging by performing a single leg bridge:

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent.
  2. Straighten out one knee and hold it in the air prior to lifting your buttocks up off the floor.
  3. Hold the position for three seconds.
  4. Lower down slowly.
  5. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions.

Straight Leg Raises

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Straight leg raises are simple yet effective exercises to strengthen your hip flexors, hip abductors, or gluteus muscles.

To properly perform straight leg raises:

  1. Lie on your back with one knee bent and one knee straight.
  2. Tighten your quadriceps muscle on the front of your straight leg and engage your abdominals.
  3. Lift your straight leg up about 12 inches. Hold this position for three seconds.
  4. Lower your leg down slowly.
  5. Repeat 15 times.

To strengthen your gluteus medius on the side of your hip:

  1. Lie on one side with your top knee straight and your bottom knee bent about 90 degrees.
  2. Tighten your abdominals and lift your straight leg up about 12 inches.
  3. Hold this position for three seconds and then slowly lower your straight leg.
  4. Repeat the exercise 15 times.

To strengthen your gluteus maximus in the back of your hip, perform the straight leg raise on your stomach. Here's how:

  1. Lie face down with both legs out straight.
  2. Engage your abdominals and slowly lift one straight leg up about 10 inches. Be sure not to twist your back or pelvis.
  3. Hold the leg raise position for three seconds and then slowly lower the leg.
  4. Repeat 15 times on each leg.

You can make the straight leg raising exercises more challenging by placing a small two- or three-pound cuff weight around your lower leg.

Monster Walks

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Monster walking can help improve hip strength in a variety of muscle groups. It also has the added benefit of being a weight-bearing exercise.

Here is how to perform monster walking to improve hip pain:

  1. Obtain a resistance band that is tied in a loop. The loop shoulder be about 12 inches in diameter.
  2. Place the resistance band around your ankles.
  3. Stand upright with both knees straight, engage your abdominals, and step sideways about 15 inches.
  4. Slowly step sideways in the same direction with your other leg. Maintain tension on the band the entire time and control the motion.
  5. Step 15 times in one direction, then do so in the opposite direction. The sideways stepping strengthens your gluteus medius muscles on the side of your hips.

To strengthen your gluteus maximus muscles in the back of your hip:

  1. Keep your knees straight, engage your abdominals, and keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Step backward slowly, taking 5- or 6-inch steps. Maintain tension on the band the entire time.
  3. Repeat 15 times and then walk forward 15 times.

Hip Hikers

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Hip hikers are a great body weight exercise to strengthen your gluteus medius on the lateral aspect of your hips. Here is how you do it:

  1. Stand on a small 8-inch step stool or the bottom step of a set of stairs. Hold onto something stable.
  2. Stand sideways so one leg if hanging off the edge.
  3. While keeping your support leg straight, lower the leg that is hanging off the edge by dropping your pelvis downward. Keep your abs engaged while you do this.
  4. Hold the lowered position for a few seconds and slowly raise your pelvis up. You should feel the side of your hip on the stance leg working to do this.
  5. Repeat the exercise 15 times for each leg.

Some people with groin and anterior hip pain from osteoarthritis may feel a pinching sensation in their inner groin when performing this exercise.

Is Yoga Safe for People With Hip Pain?

A 2016 study found that certain weight-bearing yoga poses may rapidly fatigue hip muscles in people with hip pain, leading to increased pain and impaired movement. Caution should be used when performing yoga stretches for hip pain.


Physical therapy for the hip typically includes exercises and stretches that can help improve strength and mobility and relieve pain.

Some common stretches for hip pain, such as ones that involve the hamstrings and iliotibial band, can decrease tightness in the muscles, ligaments, or hip joint capsule. Exercises like monster walks and straight leg raises can strengthen the muscles around the hip and take pressure off ligaments and nerves, which could further decrease overall hip pain.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will my hip pain ever go away?

    There are many reasons why you may have hip pain. For many, finding the reason for the pain helps identify the right solutions and strategies that can make the pain go away.

  • When should I go to a healthcare provider for hip pain?

    You should see a healthcare professional if your hip pain arose from a traumatic event, such as a fall, or if your pain limits your mobility or doesn't improve with rest and physical therapy.

  • How do I know if I have tight hip flexors?

    You may have tight hip flexors if you deal with constant lower back pain or typically feel that your rectus femoris is fatigued when running or playing a sport like soccer. However, seeing a physical therapist can help you know if your hip flexors are tight, as they can accurately assess your range of motion.

  • Is ice or heat better for hip pain?

    It depends. Ice is definitely better for an acute hip injury that's less than six weeks old, as it can decrease excess swelling and inflammation that can slow down the healing process. Heat is generally better for chronic hip pain related to arthritis and strains.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hammer AM, Hammer RL, Lomond KV, O’Connor P. Acute changes of hip joint range of motion using selected clinical stretching procedures: A randomized crossover studyMusculoskeletal Science and Practice. 2017;32:70-77. doi:10.1016/j.msksp.2017.08.011

  2. Adler KL, Kenney R, Messing S, Giordano BD. Activity of periarticular hip musculature during yoga in patients with hip pain: a descriptive study of a case series. J Yoga Phys Ther. 2016;06(04). doi:10.4172/2157-7595.1000259

  3. Konrad A, Močnik R, Titze S, Nakamura M, Tilp M. The influence of stretching the hip flexor muscles on performance parameters. A systematic review with meta-analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(4):1936. doi:10.3390/ijerph18041936

  4. Cleveland Clinic. Here’s how to choose between using ice or heat for pain.

By Brett Sears, PT
Brett Sears, PT, MDT, is a physical therapist with over 20 years of experience in orthopedic and hospital-based therapy.