Exercises to Improve Hip Range of Motion

Exercises to Improve Hip Range of Motion - Hip Mobility Exercises

The measurement of the distance and direction a joint can move to its full potential is known as the Range of motion (ROM). The ball-and-socket hip joint fits together in a way that allows for fluid, repeated activity—and a fair amount of wear and tear—but the joint isn’t indestructible.

What Affects the Hip Range of Motion

The hip range of motion can be affected by several causes and be limited due to joint problems, swelling of tissues around the joints, stiffness of the ligaments of the muscles, and pain. But a sudden loss of hip range of motion can be caused by the following:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Septic arthritis
  • Dislocated hip
  • Fractured hip
  • Labral tear of the hip
  • Frozen hip
  • Sepsis
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI)
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

Hip Movements

  • Flexion – Moving the thigh forward, toward the chest
  • Extension – Moving the thigh backward, toward the buttocks
  • Abduction – Sideway movement of the leg away from the body
  • Abduction – Inward movement of the leg toward the midline of the body
  • External Rotation – Putting the leg into a butterfly position
  • Internal Rotation – Curling your leg into the fetal position

Importance of Hip Mobility

The hips are the center of the body’s movement and a stable base of the spine to keep an upright body position allowing the lower limbs to move around the spine. Poor hip mobility will result in poor posture and inhibited muscles leading to low back pain and knee problems. Thus improving the hip range of motion is very important.

Stretches and Exercises to Improve Hip Mobility

The following exercises will help the muscles that support the hip joint and improve hip mobility.

1. Piriformis Stretch

Piriformis Stretch

Stretch that targets the piriformis, a small muscle located deep in the buttock. Sitting all day will cause this muscle to get tight.

To do this:

  • Cross one leg fully over the opposite leg so your knee is crossed over your thigh.
  • Pull the crossed knee toward your opposite shoulder, stretching the piriformis muscle.


  • Use a chair, sit with your leg bent (as much or as little as needed for your comfort) on a stool or chair, then cross your other leg over the bent leg. 
  • Rotate your chest toward your knee, pulling your body toward your crossed knee. 
  • If it is too difficult to do this with one leg crossed over the other, you can just elevate one leg onto a stool or chair and make the same motion.

2. Lying Hip Rotations

lying hip rotations 1
lying hip rotations 2
lying hip rotations 3

To do this:

  • Lie on your back with both knees bent.
  • Cross one ankle over the opposite knee.
  • Move in and out of the stretch by rotating the hip in and out.
  • For the hold, use your hand for assistance to press into the knees.


  • Use a chair or bench, elevate your legs onto a stool or chair (the higher the surface, the more challenging it will be), and externally rotate one leg at a time. 
  • Play around with crossing one ankle over the other leg and externally rotating from that position. 
  • You can have the bottom leg bent fully or straighten it a bit more.

3. Butterfly Stretch

Butterfly Stretch

Very useful for the groin muscles and for improving hip rotation to the side. Pay close attention to your back and keep it straight and upright as you move through the stretch.

To do this:

  • Sit up with your feet together, moving your knees toward the ground.
  • Use your hand to press into the ground and move your groin closer to your heels.


  • Lift your legs onto an elevated surface while sitting on a chair. 
  • Put your feet together with your knees splayed outward. 
  • The key, as you move in and out of the stretch, is to keep your chest up and lean forward as you draw your knees downward.

4. Frog Stretch

frog stretch

This is more intensive stretching for the hips, adding more weight bearing into the exercise. But take it slowly, and don’t force yourself for a range of motion you may not be ready yet.

To do this:

  • Start on hands and knees, bringing your knees as far apart as is comfortable.
  • Rock back and forth in that position.
  • Keep the balls of your feet on the ground, with your toes pointed outward.


  • Start sitting in a chair with your feet up on a chair with your knees splayed outward. 
  • This time, though, your feet won’t be touching, and you’ll focus on leaning backward so that you can open your groins as much as possible.

5. Kneeling Lunges Stretch

Knee Lunges Stretch - Hip Mobility Exercises

When your shin is upright, lean forward rather than being angled down or back. Keep your hips square and your upper body tall, and you’ll be in the proper position. Don’t be afraid to adjust the back leg positioning to get the most out of the stretch to release your hip flexors.

To do this:

  • Get into a lunge position, with the knee and foot about hip-width apart from the elevated leg.
  • Keep the chest tall and the hips square.
  • To make the stretch harder, you can pull the back knee up off the ground.


  • Sit with just one leg supported by a chair, with your other leg bent behind you. 
  • Keep the knee lifted off the ground if you can, and try to square up your hips as much as possible. 
  • Emphasize opening your rear hip flexor by squeezing your rear glute.

6. Hip Squeezes

Hip Squeezes - Hip Mobility Exercises

A simple exercise that can get groin muscles working. The groin muscles provide medial stability to the hips and help control the position of the knees.

To do this: 

  • While lying on your back, keep both knees bent and place a small ball, pillow, or towel roll between your knees.
  • Give the pillow a gentle squeeze. Hold for five seconds and release.
  • Repeat 10 times. Be sure to stop the exercise if you feel any sharp pain.

7. Hip Hikers

hip hikers view - start
hip hikers view - end

Also Known as the pelvic drop, these are great hip mobility exercises to get your gluteal muscles working in a weight-bearing position.

To do this:

  • Stand sideways with one foot on a step and the other hanging off.
  • Keeping both knees straight, lower your pelvis on one side so your foot moves toward the floor.
  • Both knees should remain straight; the motion should come from your hip joint.
  • Once your pelvis is lowered, slowly raise it back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise for 10 repetitions.


Having a stable hip also means having the freedom to move around without pain. Because our hips are known to be the center of the body’s movement, especially when we walk, climb stairs, run, stand, sit, and bend over. Thus, keeping the hips’ range of motion regular is important to avoid limited movements. With the help of the exercises mentioned above, we can ensure that hip mobility will be improved and enhance the ability to move well every day.

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