I struggled to achieve full range of motion in my hips until I tried this one hip-loosening stretch for five minutes a day

Can a stretch be life-changing? This hip stretch certainly was for me

Woman relaxes while doing a reclined hip stretch
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tight hips can be uncomfortable and hard to live with, but there are some great exercises to stretch out the area. I particularly struggle with discomfort up the sides of my hips and limited range of motion, so I decided to incorporate a five-minute stretch into my day to tackle the issue.

The stretch I chose is the reclined hip stretch and it can be done before you even get out of bed in the morning. I just kick off my covers first thing and take five minutes to do this stretch. I also spoke to a physiotherapist to make sure I was doing it correctly.

"A reclined hip stretch, also known as the reclined pigeon pose, is a fantastic way to enhance hip mobility," said Calum Fraser, a physiotherapist, CEO & owner of Advantage Physiotherapy.

"Some signs of tight hips include discomfort in the hip or surrounding areas, limited range of motion, and difficulties performing day-to-day activities like climbing stairs or sitting for extended periods."

Calum Fraser
Calum Fraser

Calum Fraser is an Australian physiotherapist with 19 years of experience. He is the CEO and owner of Advantage Physiotherapy. His consultation practice extends to national and international sporting teams and multinational corporations, where he advises on injury management and prevention strategies.

How to do a reclined hip stretch

Follow these instructions from Fraser to do it correctly:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor [or bed] to get started.
  2. Cross your right ankle over your left knee to form a triangle.
  3. Pull your legs gently toward your body as you gradually raise your left foot. To enhance the stretch in your right hip and provide additional support, try wrapping your hands around your left thigh or use a yoga strap.
  4. After 20 to 30 seconds, switch legs.

My results

The main goal of any hip-opening stretch is to make the hips feel looser, and just five minutes a day doing a reclined hip stretch improved my tight hips dramatically.

It's worth noting that while this is one of the best hip stretches I've tried, it's not designed to build strength in the area. If you're looking to do that, try some of these hip-strengthening exercises instead.

1. My hips felt looser

I didn’t realize that even when sat I could feel a degree of discomfort in my hips due to the tension I was carrying in the area. After a few days of doing the stretch, I noticed how much more relaxed my muscles felt and how uncomfortable I had been before.

2. Uphill walking became more comfortable

The activity that always brings attention to my tight hips is walking uphill. I live in a city built across seven hills, so they’re difficult to avoid, and my hips are often sore by the time I summit one of them. After regularly doing this stretch, I felt far less strain in my hips and felt it more in my quads and calves.

3. I could deep squat more comfortably

I am a keen gardener and spend a great deal of time crouched in a deep squat weeding, pruning and tending to my garden. After a few minutes I usually begin to feel an ache in my hips and have to adjust my position or stand up and stretch, but after incorporating the reclined hip stretch into my daily routine, I found I could maintain this position for far longer.

Need something soft and supportive for your stretching routine? Have a look through our guide to the best yoga mats

Lou Mudge
Fitness Writer

Lou Mudge is a Health Writer at Future Plc, working across Fit&Well and Coach. She previously worked for Live Science, and regularly writes for Space.com and Pet's Radar. Based in Bath, UK, she has a passion for food, nutrition and health and is eager to demystify diet culture in order to make health and fitness accessible to everybody.

Multiple diagnoses in her early twenties sparked an interest in the gut-brain axis and the impact that diet and exercise can have on both physical and mental health. She was put on the FODMAP elimination diet during this time and learned to adapt recipes to fit these parameters, while retaining core flavors and textures, and now enjoys cooking for gut health.