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Sitting for long hours at your office desk can make your hips feel quite tight. The longer you sit, the more rigid they become!
And before you know it, things will graduate to soreness, knee, and back pains. When you have these physical pains, it becomes hard to concentrate. Your productivity goes south, and you lose motivation.
However, stretching your hip flexor muscles is an easy and quick way of evening out the stiff muscles. The good thing about these exercises is that you can do them during office hours and you don’t even need to leave your office desk to work out.
Discover more details below on how to do seated hip muscle stretches to help relieve hip pain and tension.
What are tight hip flexors?
Hip flexors are simply muscle groups sitting near the top of your thighs and play a critical role in your lower body movement. They enable you to walk, bend, kick and even swivel your hips.
These muscles become too tight and stiff when you sit for prolonged periods at your office desk. And if you try to make a sudden movement, they can even stretch and tear, leaving you with painful hips.
The degree of strain can lead to minor discomfort. Or it can get so serious that you have trouble walking and even suffer muscle spasms.
Key symptoms of tight hip flexors include:
- You feel tightness and/or aches in your lower back while standing
- The neck feels too tight and/or aches
- Poor posture; you have difficulties standing up straight
- Pain in your glutes
That said, regular stretches are key to helping your hip flexor muscles stay loose and prevent possible strain and injuries.
7 Stretches to loosen stiff hip flexors
Loosening stiff hip muscles can take away your soreness and back pain. They can also increase your range of movement, make you feel more energized, and even enhance your concentration.
Here are the 7 most effective but simple stretches to try out today:
1. Hip-flexor stretch
This is one of the best desk stretches you can do to loosen your hip flexors. It’s easy to do and doesn’t require you to get far off your desk.
Steps to follow to do this stretch:
- Stand in front of your office chair so that your back is facing it
- Place one foot on top of the seat
- If your chair has caster wheels, lock them into position or simply place something in front to keep it from rolling forward
- Bend your body forward toward the standing leg while keeping the other leg stable on the ground
- Ensure your back hip is brought forward as well during the bending motion
- You should feel a stretch at your back leg hip flexor
- While keeping your lower back straight, pull the belly button toward the spine
- Stay in this position for about 10-15 seconds
- Repeat the whole process with the opposite side
2. Forward fold hamstring stretch
If you’ve been to a yoga class, then you’re familiar with the standard forward fold stretch.
It involves stretching the hamstring muscles situated in the back of your thigh. The stretch may also include working the low back muscles.
These muscles are prone to tightening due to sitting on an office chair all day. Thus, performing this forward fold stretch will help loosen them. Luckily, you can do this stretch in the comfort of your chair desk.
However, you’ll need to perform the folds correctly to avoid straining your hamstrings or even straining your lower back.
Steps to follow to do it correctly:
- Start by putting your heels up on boxes, shelves, or any similar platform that enables you to elevate them off the floor
- Next, pull your belly button towards the spine while you fold forward at your hips
- Reach forward to both feet with your hands. This will help simultaneously stretch both legs.
- Alternatively, you can try reaching toward one foot to stretch one leg at a time.
- Hold the stretching position for approx. 20 to 30 seconds. Be sure to take slow, deep breaths while holding this position
3. Hip flexor warrior 1 stretch
This stretching exercise targets your hip flexor group of muscles, helping loosen them and increase your range of motion. It requires you to stand up, but you don’t need to go far off your desk.
This is how you do a hip flexor warrior 1 stretch:
- Stand with left foot placed forward, and the other stepped back
- Open your feet and space them wider than your hips
- Now bend the left knee of the foot you set in front while making sure you keep your back leg straight
- Turn the toes on the leg at the back so that they’re pointing forward at an angle of 45 degrees
- For support, you can place your hands on your hips. Or you can use your desk as a support
- Pull in your abs, breathe slowly, and then relax your shoulders
- Hold into this position for about 20 to 30 seconds
- Switch sides and repeat the whole process with the opposite side
4. Seated pigeon stretch(modified)
Though this comfortable stretch is a staple in yoga classes, it has been modified to make it easy to do while in your office chair.
When done with the guidance of a yoga instructor, a pigeon pose targets your hip flexors and lower back muscles which tend to get stiff due to prolonged sitting.
It opens your hips and reduces lower back pain.
You’ll need to perform this stretch correctly to prevent straining or even injuring yourself.
Here’s how to do it:
- Sit upright in your office chair
- Cross the right foot ankle over the left knee
- Flex the right foot so that you feel a stretch in the outer hip as well as the right hip glute
- Lean forward at your waist slowly and then lean into your right hip so that you feel a more intense stretch
- Hold this stretch for approx. 20 to 30 seconds
- Switch sides and repeat the whole process
5. Revolving triangle IT band stretch(modified)
Like the pigeon stretch above, this IT band is also synonymous with yoga but modified to work for stiff hip muscle loosening.
It basically involves targeting the IT band (iliotibial band), which begins at the underside of your bum and stretches all the way down to the sides of your quad. Here, it connects with your knee, just at the point where your right or left knee joint bends.
This is how you do the IT band stretch:
- Properly position yourself in your office chair
- Put out your right leg in front of you
- Ensure the other leg remains bent, with the left foot planted on the floor
- Flex the right leg (the one you extended) and squeeze the quad area
- Now fold forward this right foot and touch its shin using your left hand
- Hold this position while you twist your back to the right and then extend your right arm up to the ceiling
- You should be able to feel a stretching sensation in the IT band as well as the right outer thigh
- Hold this position for about 20-30 seconds.
- Switch sides and repeat the whole process
6. Wide-legged seated forward bend (modified)
This hip flexor desk stretch is also practiced by the yogis. The seated yoga posture helps deeply stretch the spine and legs while calming the mind and relieving stress.
The modified version of this stretch excellently works the hamstrings, pelvis, groin, calves, and spine. It opens your hips while helping relieve neck and shoulder tension.
Here are the quick steps on how to do it:
- Sit upright on your office chair
- Put your left heel onto a box, shelf, or any suitable platform that offers you a point of elevation
- You should already feel some degree of stretch in your inner thigh at this point
- To experience even more stretching sensation, try to lean forward slowly
- Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds
- Switch sides and repeat the whole stretching experience
7. Seated figure four stretch
Feeling sore and tight around your hips? If yes, this is a good hip flexor stretch in your office chair.
Figure 4 stretch helps loosen stiff muscles. It also improves your mobility and flexibility in your glutes, hips, and piriformis (a small muscle that gets inflamed when your hips get tight).
This is how to do a figure 4 stretch:
- Sit upright in your office chair
- Take the left leg and cross it over your other leg just above the knee. Ensure the other stays on the ground.
- This will look like a 4 figure if you look down at your legs.
- Place both your hands on the left knee (of your crossed leg). You may feel the stretch at this point.
- If not, bend forward and pivot at your hips while keeping your back straight.
- Hold the position for up to 30 seconds
How do you sit to avoid getting tight hips?
Unfortunately, there’s no proven way you can sit to avoid getting tight hips. However, we advise you to incorporate the hip flexor stretches above to help loosen your muscles after sitting in your office chair for long hours.
Other tips to prevent tight hips:
Another way to prevent tight muscles is getting up your chair and walking around.
You may consider getting out of your home office and taking a few minutes of a walk after every hour or so of sitting. This will help keep your hip flexors active and prevent them from becoming stiff.
Alternate between sitting and standing desk
You may also consider switching between sitting and standing desks. A good, height-adjustable standing desk will offer you a comfortable standing working workspace.
It will save you from sitting in your office chair all day, preventing the likelihood of your hip muscles from getting stiff.
Use kneeling and rolling ball chairs
You may also consider complimenting the standing desk with kneeling chairs and rolling ball chairs.
All these options will promote muscle activation and keep you from being locked in a single posture for hours.
If you like, you can also start doing yoga regularly. This will encourage hip flexor muscle movement , and your hips, as well as the lower back, should never hurt!
Also read: Can Your Office Chair Cause Leg Pain?
Final Thoughts – Seated hip flexor stretch
Prolonged sitting periods can lead to tight hip muscles. And the stiff muscles can easily trigger lower back pain and affect your work output.
You can easily even out your stiff hip muscles with the desk stretches recommended above. And you’ll avoid the discomforts they bring, increase your range of motion, and keep your productivity high.
These stretches are easy and quick, and you can do them in the comfort of your home office. You don’t need a certified personal trainer to do these stretches correctly.
We recommend doing 4-5 of these exercises daily. These will only take around 4-6 minutes but will keep you from developing stiff hip muscles and the pain they bring!