4 Bodyweight Exercises To Improve Hip Mobility

November 04, 2021

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article about shoulder mobility exercises which led to the request for hip mobility exercises.

Many people struggle with hip snapping, hip pain, or stiff hips.

Poor hip mobility can also contribute to pain in your knees and lower back pain.

Going through life and “dealing” with these ailments is not living optimally.

My commitment is to help you live the best life possible.

That starts with living pain-free and with full mobility.


hip mobility exercise

What Causes Poor Hip Mobility?

Hip mobility is a complex issue that can have multiple contributing factors.

  1. Weakness in the hip stabilizers – this is when the muscles around the hip flexors are weak. It can also mean that you have muscular imbalances around your hip muscles.
  2. Poor stability of the lumbar spine – This can happen in the psoas major, the main hip flexor, which is also part of the core musculature that helps stabilize the spine. When the spine is injured, the deep layers of the psoas, which attach directly to the spine, become weak and atrophied. As a result, the superficial layers can take over and become very tight.
  3. Poor positioning of the pelvis -Excessive pelvic tilt is a commonly discussed trait found in many athletes, as well as the general population. Tightness in the lumbar extensor muscles and hip flexors essentially outweighs the weakness of the hamstrings, obliques, glutes, diaphragm, and lower abdominals and as a result, the pelvis tilts forward.

How Long Does It Take To Loosen Hip Flexors?

The time it takes to loosen up tight hips depends on the severity of your tightness or injury.

Less severe cases can take anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks if you’re consistently doing hip exercises and hip stretches.

More severe cases of tight hips can take up to 6 weeks to fully heal.

It’s always best to consult with a health professional to get a more clear diagnosis and estimation of the time and effort it will take to fully heal.

Why Is Hip Mobility Important?

The hips are the “shoulders” of the legs.

They enable us to engage in a range of activities, from squatting to pose with loved ones for a photo, to sprinting… even doing handstands.

You’ve got to have mobile hips… period.

There are numerous benefits of improving hip mobility on a daily basis:

  1. Improving range of motion at the hip
  2. Preventing injury in the hips, knees, and ankles
  3. Promoting recovery of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that surround the hips

Adopting a hip mobility routine can benefit your overall quality of life so if you’re ready, let’s get this party started!

4 Hip Mobility Exercises For Your Tight Hips

1. Elvis Hip Thrust

I’ll start off with a couple of simple but powerful exercises, named after one of the greatest rock icons of all time – Elvis.

I’m actually more of a Hendrix fan and much preferred his music over Elvis’, but the King sure knew how to gyrate his hips!

That’s why I named this exercise after him.

  • Stand with your feet flat on the ground, slightly wider than shoulder-width, and place your hands on your hips
  • Rock JUST your pelvis up and down (see the video for an example)
  • Perform 10 reps (back and forth counts as one rep)

IMPORTANT: The first two exercises here are meant to improve mobility of the tendons and ligaments that surround the hip, NOT the muscles.

Elvis Thrusts and Elvis Rotations (below) are very small movements.

There should be minimal movement of the lower back.

There will be some movement, but you should feel the stretch exclusively in the hip joint.

If that’s not the case, your lower back is rocking too much.

2. Elvis Hip Rotations

This exercise is very similar to Elvis Thrusts, except there will be a rotation movement.

  • Stand with your feet flat on the ground, slightly wider than shoulder-width, and place your hands on your hips
  • Rotate JUST your pelvis through its full range of movement in a circular motion (see the video for an example)
  • Perform 10 reps, then change direction

3. Reeling Silk

This is an exercise I learned in Tai Chi a few years back.

It will improve overall hip mobility in your ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

If you only have a couple of minutes to perform hip mobility exercises, this is the one I would choose.

It’s amazing and you’ll feel super loose afterward.

The reason it’s called “Reeling Silk” is that in Tai Chi you think about drawing energy up from the earth and into your body.

It’s a type of Chi Kung.

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width (the wider your feet, the bigger the stretch), and place your hands on your hips
  • Leading with your right knee bent while rotating to your right and keeping your left knee straight.
  • in a circular motion start rotating left towards your back knee (left knee) until your knee is bent and your right knee is straight.
  • Throughout the movement, pretend to draw circles on the floor with long pencils hanging from your front knee.
  • Make sure to fully stretch the hip flexor area
  • Perform 10 reps, then change direction (rotating from one knee to the opposite knee counts as one full rep)

Here’s a video if that’s hard to picture:

4. Lying Rotations

This is a great hip mobility exercise to perform at the end of your routine. Since it’s non-weight-bearing, it promotes relaxation and lubricates the joint.

  • Lay on the ground, face up
  • Raise your left leg to the right, so that it crosses over your body
  • Bring the knee all the way up to your chest, or as close as you can manage
  • Rotate the hip down and outward to return to the starting position
  • Perform 10 reps, then change directions
  • After 10 rotations in each direction, switch legs

What If I Feel Pain During These Exercises?

If you feel intense pain during these exercises, you should stop.

There may be something serious going on.

If you feel a bit of discomfort, that’s a sign that the exercises are necessary.

Stick with them for three to four weeks and your hips will feel just like new.

When Should I Do Them?

If you work out intensely, I recommend performing mobility work after your workout.

The blood will be pumping, the muscles will be loose, and you’ll be able to focus on deeper ligament and tendon mobility.

If you aren’t planning to couple these exercises with your workout, then you can do them whenever you want.

Do them in the shower, before bed, or in the car (on second thought, that last one probably wouldn’t work too well).

The key is to do them. “When” is less important than just getting them done.

Todd’s Daily Mobility Ritual for Shoulders & Hips:

I’m currently going through the advanced 3-month program and loving it.

After the workout, I spend 15 minutes working through the shoulder mobility exercises and 15 minutes doing hip mobility exercises.

This is a daily ritual for me and I feel amazing afterward.

The other thing to mention is that I feel less soreness in my joints when I am religious with my mobility workouts.

Your joints need to move, but when you put them through extreme calisthenics exercises it can be hard on them.

By working on mobility, you are helping them heal and they will thank you.

Would you like to see more mobility exercises? Have either the shoulder or hip mobility posts helped you?

Share with the SOA community in the comments below.

We’d like to hear from you!

Show/Hide Comments (21 comments)
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21 Comments
  1. Patricia Mazzei

    Any way to pin these exercises to PINTEREST?
    thanks

    Reply
  2. Reb

    Both hips have been replaced. Any special precautions?

    Reply
  3. Terrie

    Hi. I teach a senior strength and core class. These exercises will be great for my people. Thanks.

    Reply
  4. Joe

    Hi Todd, my name is Joe. I had polio as a child and now that I’m 69years old my right leg is dragging more and more. I feel the leg itself is strong enough to move on it’s own but I can feel something in my hip that seems to not be working right.
    Will these exercises help with that. Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Christine

    Wow, we ask and you deliver. Thanks for the speedy post — my hips are grateful.

    Reply
  6. Arne

    Todd,
    Wow I feel the difference already! Only things is; can I do them too often in a day? I have reeled the silk three times today.

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      LOL! You can reel as much silk as you want! Do mobility work as much as you’d like! Can’t overdue it.

      Reply
  7. Tana

    Do you have exercises that increase mobility in elbow? My son dislocated his elbow and never got full mobility back.

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Hi Tana, Sorry to hear that. One of the best things you can do for elbows is hanging. Hang from a pull up bar, hang from rings, hang from anything. People need to hang more in general but especially if you have elbow mobility issues. I’d make sure your son’s elbow is fully recovered but it sounds like it was an older injury.

      Reply
  8. Richard

    Good stuff Todd. How about some wrist mobility. I find with bodyweight exercises there is a big need for it to protect not only wrists but elbows. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Great idea Richard. I’m always doing wrist mobility stuff so I think I can put something together for that. 🙂

      Reply
  9. h

    Thanks Coach.

    They are really helpful and feel immediate hip relaxed .
    Just to enrich, there is deep stretch done by coach Steve Maxwell .

    IF this information should not be written in the comment area then pls accept my apology and delete it. I just wanted to enrich by adding more infos.

    Kind Regards

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Hi h, this is a perfect place to comment about it. If you have a link that would be great!

      Reply
  10. Dave

    Todd,
    Great stuff…can’t thank you enough. I have been doing the shoulder exercises and really enjoy them. I tried these today and will be adding them to my routine as well. I play a lot of golf and these exercises will really help with range of motion.

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Great Dave! Hope your golf game continues to improve! Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  11. David

    Hi Todd, thanks for granting our wishes… 😀
    Your shoulder mobility exercises were great, my stiff shoulders are more flexible now. Can’t wait to try these hip exercises.
    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Awesome David! Let me know what you think!

      Reply
  12. kaushik

    Hey Todd,Hi I’m from India and I’m a big fan of your website and the entire concept of bodyweight exercises and functional strength.. But I think I may have anterior pelvic tilt..its a huge hindrance to better abs and flexibility..can you suggest stretches ?? P.s. I have tried planks and hip bridges but no result except getting stronger and hence immune..thanks. Appreciate your efforts with the website..kudos

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Hi Kaushik, thanks for the comment. Anterior pelvic tilt is found mostly in people that sit a lot for their job. Their hip flexors shorten and pull the pelvis downward. The stretches in this article will help along with frequently getting up and stretching our your hip flexors (you can using reeling silk -above). That should help. 🙂

      Reply
  13. Oosha

    Hey Todd
    Thanks for these. I wake up with hip pain every morning and I am going to try out your suggestions after my workout.
    I tried them while watching your video and already feel my hips loosening.
    Thanks again

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Awesome Oosha! So glad I could help!

      Reply
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