The 10 Best Hip Abductor Stretches To Do On The Reg

Your hips will thank you.

The best hip abductor stretches to do, according to trainers.
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Oftentimes, your hip abductors are the reason why your hips feel so tight. These muscles start to tense up if you sit too long at work, overuse them during exercise, or if you have poor posture — which is true for pretty much everyone to one degree or another. To make your hip abductors happy, it helps to stretch them on a regular basis.

For a quick rundown, the hip abductors are the group of muscles located on the sides of your thighs, and they include your glutes. These muscles move your leg away from your body — like when you’re stepping to the side — and they also help stabilize your hips and pelvis as you walk, run, and stand, says Michael Hamlin, NSCA, CSCS, a personal trainer and founder of Everflex Fitness. This is why they play a role in posture, stability, and mobility.

You’ll know it’s time to stretch your hip abductors if your hips hurt, you notice a limited range of motion, or you feel a pulling sensation in your hip area, he tells Bustle. When your hip abductor muscles are tight, it can lead to hip pain, imbalances in your hips, and contribute to lower back pain, Hamlin adds, so it’s a good idea to stretch this area on a regular basis. “Stretching can be done every day, after prolonged sitting, or as part of your warm-up before workouts,” he says.

Here are the 10 best hip abductor stretches to do whenever your hips feel tight.

1. Pigeon Pose

According to Hamlin, pigeon pose targets the hip abductors and the glutes while also stretching the hip flexors on your extended leg.

- Begin in a high plank position.

- Bring your right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist.

- Extend your left leg straight behind you.

- Lower your hips towards the floor, feeling a stretch in the right hip.

- Stay upright or fold forward over your front leg for a deeper stretch.

- Hold for 30 to 60 seconds on each side.

2. Figure-4 Stretch

The figure-four stretch is a go-to for opening the hip abductors. It helps release tension in the hip area, and is great to do after a workout when you’re tired and just want to lie down, Hamlin says.

- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

- Cross your right ankle over your left knee, creating a "4" shape with your legs.

- Grab your thigh and gently pull your right knee in towards you until you feel a stretch in your right hip.

- Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

- Repeat on the other side.

3. Cross-Legged Stretch

This simple stretch is an easy one to do throughout the day, like when you’re working at your desk, reading, or watching a movie.

- Sit with your legs crossed, placing your right ankle over your left knee.

- Your body weight should create a light stretch on your hips.

- If you feel any pain in your knees, find a pillow to sit on to decrease the tension.

- Hold for at least 30 to 60 seconds.

- Switch legs.

4. Standing Leg Cradle

This stretch is perfect as a pre-workout warm-up, Hamlin says.

- Stand tall and lift your right foot off the ground.

- Hold your right knee with your right hand and your right ankle with your left hand.

- Gently pull your leg across your body, cradling it at hip height.

- Feel a stretch in your hip and glutes.

- Hold for five seconds on each side.

- Do 10 reps on each side

5. Standing Hip Abduction

Dr. Dallas Reynolds, PT, DPT, a physical therapist and director at ATI Physical Therapy, recommends this simple move to stretch your outer hip.

- Stand with your feet together.

- Place your hands on a wall or on your hips for balance.

- Raise one leg out to the side without rotating your hips.

- Hold it out for five seconds, then gently lower.

- Repeat this motion 10 times on each side.

6. 90/90 Stretch

Hip rotation is vital for hip health and a good range of motion, Reynolds tells Bustle, so don’t forget to add this dynamic stretch into your routine.

- Sit on the floor with one leg bent in front of you and the other leg bent behind you at 90 degrees.

- Lean towards your front leg to stretch your hip.

- Next, lean towards the middle between your legs.

- Then lean towards your back leg.

- Hold each stretch for five seconds.

- You can also “windshield wiper” your legs from side to side.

- Repeat with the other leg in front.

7. Cossack Squat

The Cossack squat is another dynamic stretch that allows your legs to flow from one side to the other. “It’ll create a release through your lower body and widen your hip mobility,” Reynolds says.

- Stand in a wide stance with your toes facing forward, feet wider than shoulder-width apart.

- Hold your hands in front of your chest for counterbalance.

- Bend your right knee to lower down to one side.

- Keep your left leg long and out to the side.

- Hold for five seconds.

- Raise up and lower to the other side.

- Repeat 10 times.

8. Lying Cross-Over Stretch

This stretch goes deep into your lower back and external abductor muscles, Reynolds says. Try it in bed or on a mat to relieve hip pain.

- Lie on your back with your legs stretched out.

- Take one knee and bring it up to your midline.

- Take the opposite hand and pull your knee over the outstretched leg.

- For a deeper stretch, reach your other arm in the opposite direction.

- Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

9. Cross-Legged Toe Touch

Ronnie Garcia, CPT, a trainer with Blink Fitness, recommends getting up throughout the day to stretch your hips. This move’s an easy one to try anytime you need to shake things out.

- Cross your right leg over the left.

- Put the outer part of your right foot against the inner part of the left foot.

- Keep your knees straight.

- Hinge forward at your hips to touch your toes.

- Do 10 touches.

- Switch legs.

10. Adductor Rocks

To make your hip abductors feel good, it’s also essential to develop adductor strength, Reynolds says. This move is a nice stretch for your entire hip region.

- Begin on your hands and knees.

- Stretch one leg out to the side.

- Sit your hips back.

- Hold for five seconds.

- Begin to gently rock forward and back.

- Repeat on the opposite leg.

Studies referenced:

Addison, O. (2017). Role of Hip Abductor Muscle Composition and Torque in Protective Stepping for Lateral Balance Recovery in Older Adults. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 98(6), 1223.

Berry, JW. (2015). Resisted Side Stepping: The Effect of Posture on Hip Abductor Muscle Activation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2015.5888.

Bewyer, DC. (2003). Rationale for treatment of hip abductor pain syndrome. Iowa Orthop J. PMID: 14575251; PMCID: PMC1888398.

Boukabache, A. (2021). Prolonged sitting and physical inactivity are associated with limited hip extension: A cross-sectional study. Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2021 Feb;51:102282. doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2020.102282. Epub 2020 Oct 28. PMID: 33188982.

Hammer, AM. (2017). Acute changes of hip joint range of motion using selected clinical stretching procedures: A randomized crossover study. Musculoskelet Sci Pract. doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2017.08.011.

Hatefi, M. (2021). The effect of static stretching exercises on hip range of motion, pain, and disability in patients with non-specific low back pain. J Exp Orthop. doi: 10.1186/s40634-021-00371-w.

Thomas, E. (2018). The Relation Between Stretching Typology and Stretching Duration: The Effects on Range of Motion. Int J Sports Med. doi: 10.1055/s-0044-101146.


Michael Hamlin, NSCA, CSCS, personal trainer, founder of Everflex Fitness

Dr. Dallas Reynolds, PT, DPT, physical therapist, director at ATI Physical Therapy

Ronnie Garcia, CPT, trainer with Blink Fitness