Shakira said it best: Your hips don’t lie. And you’ve probably heard them speak up after a long day of sitting at your desk or being on your feet all night. Because whether you had a sedentary 24 hours or an extremely active one, tight hips tend to get achey in both circumstances — which is exactly why you need regular hip openers and stretches in your life.
“The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, which means it can perform in many different directions of motion. But most of us stay within a limited range based on our typical posture and movement habits,” says Ariel Kiley, the lead instructor for Daily Burn’s new Yoga Fundamentals program, a beginner-friendly yoga plan. “Hip openers are poses that stretch and activate your muscles and fascia [the connective tissue surrounding muscles and organs] in a myriad of ways to keep the hips healthy, mobile and supple.”
Kiley agrees everyone can benefit from a stretch session for this typically tight joint. “For the super athletic, hip openers keep muscle tissue pliable and elastic,” Kiley explains. “For more sedentary folks, hip openers prevent adaptive shortening and maintain circulation. Healthy hip mobility is also imperative to stave off lower back pain.”
Keep your hips happy with these three yoga poses, borrowed from the Daily Burn Yoga Fundamental’s program.
3 Yoga Poses to Loosen Up Tight Hips
Practice these three yoga poses every day to really reap the benefits and loosen up tight hips. Kiley says the supported squat and stalking panther hip openers work particularly well as primers for a vigorous workout. Meanwhile, the lounging pigeon provides the perfect cool-down after work or a workout. “My golden rule, though? Just do them when you actually will do them — that’s good enough,” she says.
1. Supported Squat
“Squatting is a primal movement that’s essential to healthy hips,” Kiley says. But once people start sitting more often, they often lose the ability to squat with proper form. Practicing the movement on a block, as shown, will help you regain the ability to drop it low and offers the ideal body alignment.
How to: Sit on a yoga block or stack of books. Place your feet about 45 degrees out to the sides with knees stacked directly over heels. Place your hands in a prayer position and wedge your elbows between your knees. Lengthen your spine so it’s perfectly upright, while using your elbows to press your knees open. Engage your pelvic floor muscles and gaze straight ahead.
2. Lounging Pigeon
Hit all the right spots in your lower half with this deep stretch. “The hip of the front leg offers a deep stretch to the gluteus maximus and other deep hip and buttocks muscles,” Kiley says. “Meanwhile, the back leg creates an incredible stretch for your hip flexors and anterior core. It’s a wonderful pose after a long run…or a long day.”
How to: Place your left shin at a diagonal toward the front of your mat, with the foot pointed. Slide your right leg straight back behind you, also with the foot pointed. Tuck a thick blanket or cushion under the left hip to even out the pelvis and reduce pressure on the front knee. Rest your forearms parallel to each other on the floor and keep your neck long and head neutral. By pressing down with the forearms, you can reduce the intensity of the stretch. If you feel stress in your front knee, add more cushion under the hip.
3. Stalking Panther
Time to wake up those tight hips with a little movement. “This is a great dynamic stretch for the inner thigh or adductor muscles,” Kiley explains. “By sliding side to side you will both lengthen and tone the often sleepy muscles of the inner thighs.”
How to: Stand in a wide straddle with feet parallel to each other. Hinge at the hips and plant your fingertips on the floor or a yoga block. Activate your back muscles to maintain a long, neutral spine. Gaze ahead, fixing your eyes on a single point. Shift back and forth by bending over onto one knee, then the other. Keep your feet planted on the ground the entire time. Move slowly and mindfully.