I swapped stretches for these four moves to improve my hip health, and I could feel them working straight away

Healthy hips keep injuries and back pain at bay, so I tried some exercises designed to strengthen the surrounding muscles

Fit&Well fitness writer Harry Bullmore performing a hip flexor lift
(Image credit: Future / Harry Bullmore)

Tight hips are a common problem, particularly for anyone who spends a lot of their time sitting down. As a writer, I'm definitely guilty of sitting down too much, so I'm always on the lookout for lower-body stretching routines. But there are other ways to keep your hips healthy. 

"Stretching is great, but to build a solid foundation for running [and other forms of exercise] we also need to strengthen [our hip muscles]," says ultra runner and qualified medical personal trainer Yana Strese (Running Yana on Instagram).

Strese recently shared a video of four hip-strengthening exercises—so I decided to unroll my yoga mat and give them a try. You'll also need a resistance band, if you want to have a go at home. 

Watch Yana Strese's hip-strengthening routine

What I learned from Yana Strese's hip-strengthening exercises

I've been adding more stretching into my week and have seen some good results; my muscles feel less sore and the range of motion around my joints is improving. 

But Strese's routine worked a little differently. While my stretching sessions created a lengthening sensation, the hip-strengthening exercises forced my muscles to work and brought a little heat to the area. 

The moves were great for recruiting underused muscles. During the hip flexor lift and abduction exercise, I could feel the muscles in and around my groin being called into action, rather than larger muscles in the thigh like the quadriceps and hamstrings. 

Fit&Well fitness writer Harry Bullmore performing a squat with internal rotation

Harry Bullmore is joined by his dog during the hip-strengthening routine

(Image credit: Future / Harry Bullmore)

I found the routine genuinely challenging. The squat with internal rotation (shown above, along with a curious dog who decided to join me) and shin box stretch put my hip strength, mobility and coordination to the test.

I've only done this routine once, so I can't confirm whether or not it has any long-term impacts. What I can say is that it definitely challenged my hip flexors and would likely strengthen these muscles if I continued to do it regularly. For this reason, I'll be adding these exercises on to the end of my workouts

Importance of strong hips

Your body is designed to work as one cohesive unit, so tightness, stiffness or injury in one area usually impacts other body parts as well. The hips are no different. 

Spending a lot of your day sitting down leaves your hip flexor muscles underused, causing them to weaken and shorten. The result, in many cases, is pain and discomfort around your hips, as well as your lower back. 

This is because the hip flexors play a pivotal role in stabilizing your spine and maintaining your posture, so if these muscle are weak and tight it can impact the way you move and place excess strain on your lower spine. 

Strengthening your hip flexors counters this, improving your mobility, reducing your risk of back pain and lowering your chance of injury in this area.

If you want to limber up your lower body after a long day at the desk, you could try doing a yoga routine for your hips. Or do some targeted, one-minute hip stretches throughout your day instead. 

Need a new mat for your stretching routine? Our guide to the best yoga mats can help

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.

Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.