How to Do a Reclined Stretching Exercise for the Hip

A woman stretching outside.
A woman stretching outside. Credit: Chris Bernard/Getty Images

The reclined hip stretch is one of the best stretching exercises for the outside of the hip. It looks like a pretzel move, but once you get if figured out, it feels great. I like it because it is easy and I can control how intense the stretch is.

What You Need for the Reclined Hip Stretch

You will need an exercise mat or a firm but padded surface to lie on to do this stretch. You can perform this stretch at home, at the gym or the Pilates studio.

  • Difficulty: Easy - this stretch is suitable for beginners
  • Time Required: 2 minutes. You can fit this stretch in easily.

How to Perform the Reclined Hip Stretch

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your spine can be neutral. You don't have to flatten your back.
  2. Bend your right knee until the thigh is perpendicular to the floor. The shin can drop - it doesn't have to be in table top position.
  3. Bring your left knee up, rotating your left leg outward at the hip so that you can rest your left ankle on your right thigh just above the knee.
  4. Take your right hand to the outside of the right thigh and thread your left hand through the opening your crossed left leg has made. Grasp your hands behind the right thigh.
  5. Press your left thigh open with your left elbow as you simultaneously pull your right thigh toward your chest with your hands. You will feel a good stretch along the outside of your left hip. Experiment with the intensity of the stretch.
  1. Breathe deeply into the stretch.
  2. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Tips for the Reclined Hip Stretch

  1. When you bring your knees up, concentrate on creating a deep crease at the hip, and on leaving your tailbone grounded to the floor so that the hip doesn't ride up along with the knee. Knee folds are a good practice for this idea.
  1. As always, your shoulders and neck stay relaxed.

Muscles Stretched by the Reclined Hip Stretch

This stretch targets the muscles and tendons at the outside of the hip and the buttocks. These include the tensor fascia latae and iliotibial band as well as the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus. Runners may experience tightness in the outer hips and fascia, and the iliotibial band can be a large problem area. Maintaining and restoring flexibility in the outer hip is important for performance. Some athletes and exercisers use a foam roller to release this area.

More Hip Stretches

  • Side-Lying Quad and Hip Stretch: This stretch targets the front of the thigh and the hip flexors. While you are on the mat, it is easy to add this stretch to your routine.
  • Hip Flexor Stretch - the Lunge: If you sit a lot, stretching your hip flexors is important. You can do this move anywhere. You may want to remind yourself to do it a few times during the day if you have a sedentary job.
  • Hip Stretch with Exercise Ball and Wall: This stretch also targets the hip flexors and quads. All you need is an exercise ball and a clear stretch of wall.

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