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What does opening your hips do?

Opening your hips is an important concept in many physical activities and exercises, especially those involving rotational movements. Hip mobility allows your hips to move through a full range of motion and can benefit your overall health and physical performance in many ways.

What Does Opening Your Hips Mean?

Opening your hips refers to mobilizing your hip joints and surrounding muscles to increase range of motion and flexibility. Your hip joints are ball-and-socket joints that connect your thigh bones to your pelvis. Surrounding your hip joints are muscles like the glutes, hip flexors, inner thighs, and rotators. Tightness or restrictions in any of these areas can limit your ability to fully open and use your hips.

Some key elements of hip opening include:

  • Externally rotating your thighs so your knees and feet point outwards
  • Pushing your thighs back and away from your hips
  • Lengthening muscles like the hip flexors on the front of your hips
  • Activating your glutes and outer hip muscles
  • Allowing your pelvis to move freely

When people talk about opening the hips, they typically mean getting your thighs and knees to open wider to create more space in the hip area. This allows for a greater range of motion through the hips.

Why Open Your Hips?

There are many benefits to having open, mobile hips, including:

  • Injury prevention – Tight hips restrict movement and can lead to strain or compensations that cause injury, especially in the knees, hips, pelvis and lower back.
  • Better posture – Hip tightness can tilt your pelvis forward or backward and pull on your lower spine, disrupting your posture.
  • Improved athletic performance – Sports and exercises like swinging a golf club, kicking a soccer ball or throwing a punch rely on proper hip rotation.
  • Enhanced mobility – Daily activities like walking, climbing stairs and getting in or out of a car require flexible hip joints.
  • Less lower back pain – Opening your hips alleviates stress on your lower back and sacrum.
  • More powerful glutes – Tight hips limit your ability to activate and strengthen your gluteal muscles.

Basically, keeping your hips mobile and open allows you to move and function optimally in everyday life and physical activity. Restricted hips can negatively impact your movement, performance and comfort.

How Does Opening Your Hips Affect Your Body?

Opening your hips has many positive effects throughout your body:


Your pelvis is able to move into a neutral alignment instead of being tilted forward or backward by tight hip muscles. A neutral pelvis reduces strain on your lower back and spine.

Lower Back

More hip mobility reduces excessive loading and compression on the lumbar spine that can cause lower back pain. Open hips allow your pelvis to tilt as needed to maintain a healthy spine.


Hip mobility enhances how far your thighs can comfortably internally and externally rotate. This improves your ability to open your hips when needed for athletic movements or activities like getting in a car.


Limited hip rotation places more stress on your knees when pivoting, landing from a jump or squatting. Allowing your hips to open keeps your knees better aligned during such movements.

Ankles & Feet

Insufficient external hip rotation causes your feet and ankles to roll inwards, increasing injury risk. Open hips help keep your lower leg and foot properly oriented as your hip joint moves.

Core & Glutes

Opening and externally rotating your hips engages your core abdominal muscles and glutes. This allows you to activate these key muscle groups more effectively.


Since your body moves as a functional unit, more mobility at your hips can improve shoulder range of motion needed overhead or for activities like swinging a racket or golf club.

Exercises to Open Your Hips

Here are some of the most effective exercises and stretches for opening your hips:


  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, turn feet out 45 degrees.
  • Push hips back as if sitting in a chair, keep knees aligned with feet.
  • Make sure knees track over feet and do not collapse inward.
  • Squat as low as you can while keeping hips, knees and ankles aligned.

Squats strengthen your glutes while mobilizing your hips through a functional range of motion. Go deep into the squat to feel a greater hip opening.


  • Step forward with one leg into a split stance, keep torso upright.
  • Bend both knees 90 degrees, back knee drops straight down to floor.
  • Make sure front knee stays aligned over ankle, keep hips square.
  • Drive back up through front heel to standing, repeat on other side.

Lunges allow you to isolate each hip through a dynamic stretch while building lower body strength. The front hip opens as the back hip and glute activate.

Seated Rotations

  • Sit with knees bent 90 degrees, feet on the floor together.
  • Clasp hands together and rotate fully to one side, hold for 2 seconds.
  • Feel a stretch in your back hip and outer glute as you reach around.
  • Return to center and repeat to the other side.

Seated rotations mobilize your hips while stretching the outer hip muscles. Go slowly and focus on fully rotating from your hip joint.

Pigeon Pose

  • From all fours, bring one knee forward towards your wrist.
  • Lower your hips towards the floor, keeping your back knee bent.
  • Feel a stretch in your hip flexors, glutes, and outer hip area.
  • Flex your front foot to intensify the stretch.

Pigeon pose targets tight outer hip rotators as you externally rotate the thigh. Use hip opening cues like tucking your back tailbone and hinging from your front hip.

Lizard Pose

  • From plank position, step one foot to outside of your hand.
  • Lower your hips and lean forward, keeping your back leg straight.
  • Feel the stretch down the front of your hip and in your hip flexors.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.

Lizard pose lengthens your tight hip flexors in a low lunge position. Press through your front heel to accentuate the hip flexor stretch.

Half Pigeon

  • Start on your hands and knees, bring one knee forward and across your body.
  • Place the shin parallel to the short edge of your mat.
  • Flex your foot, lean your torso forward and rest your forearms down.
  • Hold and breathe deeply into your hip for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Half pigeon pose is an effective stretch for your glute muscles and external hip rotators. Go slow and focus on relaxing into the stretch.

90/90 Hip Stretch

  • Lie down and bend one knee to 90 degrees, cross ankle over opposite knee.
  • Grasp back of thigh of bent leg and pull it towards your chest.
  • Keep opposite leg bent 90 degrees; do not allow knee to drop outwards.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, switch legs and repeat.

The 90/90 hip stretch isolates your hip rotators in a reclined position. The crossed ankle externally rotates the hip joint being stretched.

Seated Forward Fold

  • Sit on ground with legs extended, pressing through heels and flexing feet.
  • Hinge forward at hips keeping back straight and reach for toes.
  • Feel stretch down backs of legs and in your hamstrings and calves.
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds, bending knees as needed to decrease intensity.

Seated forward folds increase mobility in your posterior chain including your hamstrings and hips. Bending knees modifies the stretch through your hips.

Tips for Opening Your Hips

Here are some tips for getting the most out of hip opening exercises:

  • Go slow – Move into hip opening stretches gradually until you feel a mild tension.
  • Engage your glutes – Activating your glutes externally rotates your hips.
  • Do not force it – Stop if you feel pinching, strain or pain.
  • Be patient – It takes time to change the mobility of your hips.
  • Breathe deeply – Relax your muscles and breathe into areas of tightness.
  • Warm up first – Get blood flowing to your hips before stretching with light cardio.
  • Target your tight spots – Isolate stretches for your tightest hip muscle groups.


Opening your hips is about improving mobility of your hip joints and surrounding muscles for overall health and physical function. Tight hips can negatively impact your posture, movement patterns, athletic performance and comfort. A more open and mobile hip area prevents injury, activates your glutes, takes pressure off your lower back and allows you to move optimally.

Dedicate time to hip opening exercises like squats, lunges and seated rotations along with targeted stretches. Be patient and move slowly into hip opening positions while engaging your glutes. Keep your hips supple by incorporating hip mobility into your warmups and workouts. With improved hip mobility, you can move your body freely and efficiently with less restriction and discomfort.