Many people struggle with tight hips, sometimes resulting in low back and leg pain, whether we make that connection or not. It may happen for you only occasionally or very frequently. You may think that it takes 30 minutes of stretching to loosen them up, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Here are 3 stretches you can do in 5 minutes to loosen those tight hips up when you are in a pinch. Remember, you should feel a slight pull and stretch within the muscles you’re focused on, but it shouldn’t feel painful.
1. Pigeon Pose (With Modified Pigeon Pose): Sit with your left knee bent and your right leg stretched out behind you. Bring your left heel in toward your right hip. If your hips are more open, inch your right foot farther across your body and away from you. You’ll want to be sure your right hip is always pointing down toward the mat. If it begins to open up toward the ceiling, draw your left foot back in toward your body.
*Hold this pose for 30 seconds with your hands resting on the ground or on your left thigh.
If the stretch feels comfortable, like you can take it a bit farther without strain, you can lower your upper body towards the floor to get a deeper stretch. If it doesn’t quite feel ready, continue to hold the stretch wherever you feel most comfortable.
*Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds. Switch to the other leg with your right knee bent and left leg out behind you, and repeat.
2. Hamstring Stretch: Stand with your legs extended a foot or so past shoulder width apart, with toes facing out. Slowly extend your hands toward your left leg leaning into the stretch. Try to keep your back straight if possible. While you may feel a slight stretching in the low back, you want to be sure you’re feeling the stretch primarily in the back of the thigh and in the buttock.
*Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds. Switch to the other leg and repeat.
3. Quadriceps stretch: Stretching your quads while in a prone position helps to stabilize your pelvis, minimizing rocking and maximizing the stretch. Lay flat on your stomach, pull your body up on your hands and knees with your back aligned with your thighs in a position like a modified push up. Bend your knee as far as you are able using your hand to hold your foot in place, and if comfortable, pull the foot closer to the buttock. This opening of the abdomen, chest, and shoulder, along with the resistance and bending of the knee, helps to stretch the entirety of the quadriceps, from top to bottom.
*Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds, Switch to the other leg and repeat.
These quick stretches can give you some instant relief when you’re feeling that tightness in your hips and low back, but remember, it’s not a quick permanent fix. You’ll need to do these at least a few times a day during periods of excessive tightness, as well as consider what daily activities are leading you to remain tight in these areas and modifying that behavior to prevent that feeling.