The following 3 gentle stretches relieve pain in and around your  hip joint by:

  • Elongating and conditioning the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that power the hip joint 
  • Improving motion in the hip joint
  • Relaxing the soft tissues that surround the hip
  • Increasing blood flow to the area

Try these stretches to relieve pain deep in your hip joint, around your hip area, and in your hip and thigh. 

1. Butterfly stretch: Reduces pain associated with hip stiffness

The butterfly stretch increases flexibility and reduces stiffness in your groin muscles, the muscles in your inner thigh that attach near your hip joint. 

Healthy, supple groin muscles support the hip joint’s natural range of motion, which is important to reduce hip pain. 

To perform the butterfly stretch:

  • Start position: Sit on the floor with your legs extended out.
  • Place your feet together: Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together.
  • Lean forward: Slowly fold forward while keeping your back straight, until you feel a stretch along the inner side of your thighs.
  • Hold the stretch: Hold this position for about 30 seconds.  
  • Repeat: Return to the starting position, then lean into the stretch again. Repeat this stretch 3 times, and perform it 2 to 3 times daily. 

If you prefer a standing position to stretch your groin muscles, stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart and shift your weight over to one leg at a time until you feel a stretch along the inner side of your opposite thigh.

Watch Butterfly Stretch to Relieve Tightness in the Hips Video


2. IT band stretch: Alleviates pain on the outside of the hip 

The iliotibial (IT) band is a tough, long, band of tissue that runs from the outer hip down past the knee and stabilizes both the hip and knee joints. If your IT band is overly tight, injured, or inflamed, it causes pain on the outside of the hip when you lift your leg to walk or run. 

The IT band stretch is commonly recommended if you have IT band syndrome or hip bursitis, a condition associated with IT band pain.

To perform the IT band stretch:

  • Start position: Stand 1 to 2 feet away from a wall with the side you want to stretch close to the wall.
  • Take support: Place your forearm on the wall for support.
  • Lean your hips: Lean towards the wall until you feel a gentle stretch through the outer side of your hip and thigh. 
  • Hold the stretch: Hold this position for about 30 seconds.
  • Repeat: Return to the starting position and repeat this stretch 3 times on each side. Perform this stretch once per day. 

Once you’ve stretched the IT band for a few days, add a strengthening element to the exercise by using a resistance band. 

Lateral hip strengthening exercise 

To perform the lateral hip strengthening exercise:

  • Start position: Loop a resistance band around your ankles. 
  • Take support: Stand straight and hold onto the back of a chair or a wall for support.
  • Raise one leg sideways: Lift one leg sideways, and move it up and away from the body until you feel an engagement of the muscles along the outer side of your hip and thigh.
  • Hold this position: Stay in this position for about 30 seconds.
  • Repeat: Return to the starting position and repeat this exercise 10 times on each side. Perform this exercise 2 to 3 times per day. 

If this exercise is difficult or increases strain on your knee, raise the resistance band above your knee – to your thigh level. 

Watch IT Band Stretch for Hip Pain Relief Video


3. Hip flexor stretch: Relieves hip pain while walking, standing, or bending

The hip flexors are a group of 5 muscles located in front of and around the hip joint, and function to bend the hip and raise the legs. Tight hip flexors stress the hip joint – making it stiff and painful for you to perform everyday activities such as walking, standing up, and bending forward. 

The hip flexor stretch elongates the flexor muscles, reducing hip flexor pain associated with hip flexor tears, hip impingement, hip labral tears, and hip osteoarthritis. 

To perform the hip flexor stretch:

  • Start position: Stand in front of a sturdy surface, such as a table or chair, and place both your hands on it for support.
  • Move each leg individually:
    • Move your left leg slightly forward and bend your left knee.
    • Move your right leg behind you and keep both feet flat on the floor.
  • Shift your weight: Keeping your back straight, shift your weight forward until you feel a gentle stretch through the front of your right hip. 
  • Hold the stretch: Hold this position for about 30 seconds.
  • Repeat: Return to the starting position and repeat this stretch 3 times on each side. Perform this stretch once per day. 

To make this stretch easier, lift your back heel off the floor. 

To add the challenge of balancing while in this stretch, perform the steps without support by placing your hands on your hips.

See more Hip Flexor Stretches

Bonus – Lean into a deep hip joint stretch with the horizontal squat

This stretch reduces pressure on hip joint by elongating the muscles in the hip, groin, and lower back. It also relieves “tight hips” – a feeling of tightness in the hips after you’ve been sitting or standing for a long time.

To perform the horizontal squat stretch:

  • Start position: Begin on all fours with your hands below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. 
  • Move your knees apart: Walk your knees apart as wide as you can comfortably. 
  • Lower your body: Bend your elbows and lower your upper body, as you draw your hips back. You should feel a stretch in your hips and groin. 
  • Stay relaxed: Keep your arms, upper back, and neck relaxed throughout this stretch.
  • Hold the stretch: Hold this position for about 30 seconds, slowly working your way up to 60 seconds.
  • Repeat: Return to the starting position and repeat this exercise 3 times. Perform this stretch once per day. 

For a deeper stretch, straighten out your arms in front of you and bring your upper body and head closer to the floor.


Tips for doing hip stretches without pain

Use these tips to help you get started with a hip exercise program without increasing your hip pain:

  • Get started with 1 or 2 stretches per day, slowly add more stretches, and perform more repetitions as you build strength and endurance.
  • Before doing stretches, use heat therapy by placing a heat pack on your hip, buttock, or front of the upper thigh to increase blood flow to the hips and relieve tightness in the soft tissues.
  • After stretching, apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and inflammation and numb exercise-related aches and pains.
  • Perform the exercises regularly and consistently to prevent future pain and injury.

Hip stretches should not cause pain. You should feel a comfortable and tolerable stretch while performing each exercise. Adjust the intensity of your stretch based on your level of pain and flexibility.

If you experience severe pain or concerning symptoms during or after a hip exercise, stop and consult with your healthcare provider.

A trained doctor or physical therapist will prescribe exercises tailored to alleviate your hip pain. They will instruct you on proper techniques and offer modifications to address the root cause of your symptoms, providing simpler or more challenging exercise options as needed.

If you’re unable to exercise due to severe hip pain, consult with your doctor about pain relief options. For example, pain-relieving medications or cortisone injections given directly into the hip joint – called an intra-articular injection, can provide enough pain relief for you to get started with physical rehabilitation.

Learn more:

Easy Exercises for Hip Flexor Pain

5 Best Stretches and Exercises for Hip Labral Tears

Dr. Natalie Ullrich is a physical therapist specializing in orthopedic and sports medicine at Plymouth Physical Therapy Specialists. She is passionate about treating each individual as a whole.