Hip pain and tightness can have many causes. Muscle strain or spasms, arthritis, inflammation, or even underuse, can cause these hip bones, joints and muscles to ache.
The hip flexor muscle is often a source of muscle strain. Overuse can strain this muscle, but sitting for long periods can also cause an issue, when the muscle does not stretch enough.
In the case of inflammation, as in bursitis, the cap around the hip joint is inflamed. This causes soreness and tightness.
Arthritis, whether rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, is a more serious condition and can result in permanent damage and deterioration of the hip joint.
Regular stretches can increase mobility and strengthen the hips, relieve pain, and help keep circulation going, which will reduce the risk of damage.
Here are some easy beginning stretches for the hips:
Hip Flexor Lunge
Start with your feet together, standing upright. Take a large step forward with your right foot, while maintaining your balance. Bend the right knee so that you are in a lunge position. Keep the left leg straight. Placing your hands on top of your right knee, lunge forward. Do not bounce.
Keep your right knee vertical, do not press so far that your knee is leaning further than your ankle. You should feel a stretch in your hip, groin and thigh. Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend forward and grab the inside of your ankles with your hands. Bend your knees as far as you can, into a squat position. When your knees are bent as far as they can, keep your elbows inside the knees and press outward. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then repeat 3 times.
Sit on the floor or a yoga mat with your knees bent and feet placed shoulder-width in front of you. Lift up your right ankle and place it across your left thigh, flexing the foot. Then place your hands behind you on the mat, with fingers pointing away from your body. Press the upper body down and forward toward the hips, until you feel a stretch. Keep your back straight and breathe deeply 6-8 times, before repeating on the other side.
Get down on your hands and knees, on a yoga mat. Slowly slide your knees apart, lowering your abdomen to the floor while stretching your hands straight up in front of you. While you lower yourself down to the mat, flex the feet and keep a straight line from the knees to the feet.
You should feel a stretch on the side of each hip, and you can gently rock back and forth to increase the stretch. Hold this for 20-30 seconds.
This stretch is routinely done in ballet classes and similar types of physical activity, and it is a very relaxing hip and groin stretch. Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Pull your right and left legs into a bent position, so your knees are sticking out to the sides and your feet are together. Place your hands on your feet with your elbows mirroring your knees.
As you lean forward, gently press your thighs further apart with your elbows. You should feel a stretch on the inner thigh and groin area. Keep your back straight and press forward for 20-30 seconds. Repeat and release 3 times.
These stretches done daily will help ease tightness, pain and soreness in the hips.