what are the best hip stretches for runners? 

The one thing that always bothers me after a marathon are tight hips!

Therefore, I’ve made it a point to learn some of the best hip stretches for runners that feel oh-so-good especially after a long run or race. 

So want me to share those with you? 

Yes, I thought you did! 😉


So if tight hips are holding you back from a great marathon performance or causing discomfort during training or after a long run then these stretches are for you! 

For runners, especially those training for marathons, hip flexibility plays a crucial role in enhancing performance and preventing injuries. 

In this comprehensive guide tailored for marathon enthusiasts, we will talk about:

  •  the significance of hip flexibility, 
  • explore effective stretches, 
  • Talk about exercises, and lifestyle adjustments that can significantly benefit long-distance runners

Understanding the Impact of Tight Hips on Marathon Runners

Marathon training demands consistent and repetitive movements that can lead to muscular imbalances and tightness, particularly in the hip flexors. 

In fact, that is the hardest part of running! The risk of developing an over-use injury due to movements performed over and over and over again! 

Tight hip flexors can negatively impact you in a number of ways: 

  • It can throw a runner’s stride off, causing you to overcompensate in other ways that could lead to an injury
  • It limits your range of motion and your running efficiency
  • It can contribute to various issues such as lower back pain, knee discomfort and reduced performance 

The Role of Hip Flexibility in Marathon Training

Hip flexibility is pivotal for runners seeking to optimize their performance. 

However, it’s not just for those serious about running, it’s for all runners from veterans to beginners.

In fact, it can be more important for beginner runners to focus on their hip flexibility if it’s an area that might derail them from their new running routine or their new training plan.

For beginners it’s all about consistency and figuring out those things that might hold them back from being consistent. 

So no matter if you are a beginner or a long time runner maintaining your hip flexibility is important! 

A well-structured training regimen that includes targeted stretches and exercises for the hip flexors, glute muscles, and surrounding areas can help runners achieve:

  • a more efficient stride, 
  • increased range of motion, and 
  • improved overall stability during those long-distance runs

Alright, let’s talk about some of the best hip stretches for runners!

(Here is also a post on the my 4 favorite stretches for runners.

Best Hip Stretches and Exercises Tailored for Marathon Runners

1. Low Lunge


A foundational stretch that targets the hip flexors, vital for enhancing the stride length and overall hip mobility crucial for marathon runners.

  • Starting Position: Begin in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Execution: Take a step forward with your right foot, bending your knee at a 90-degree angle. Lower your left knee gently to the ground.
  • Alignment: Ensure your right knee is directly above your ankle, creating a right angle. Your left leg should be extended behind you with the top of your foot resting on the ground.
  • Hips and Torso: Keep your hips squared and your torso upright. You should feel a stretch in the front of your left hip and thigh.
  • Hold: Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Switch Sides: Repeat the stretch by stepping forward with your left foot, alternating sides.

With this stretch you can either keep your hands clasped together on the knee that is 90 degrees in front of you like the first picture shows OR....

To get a deeper stretch, raise your hands above your head and stretch your back backwards to really open up your hips and get deep into the stretch like the following photo shows:


Alright, on to the next hip stretch for runners that will get you feeling loose and limber! 

2. Pigeon pose


This yoga pose provides a deep stretch for the outer hips and glutes, beneficial for relieving tightness often experienced during prolonged runs.

This is a great stretch that you can naturally fall into after completing a round of low lunges. 

  • Starting Position: Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees.
  • Execution: Slide your right knee forward towards your right hand, angling it slightly towards the right wrist. Extend your left leg straight back behind you.
  • Alignment: Your right shin should be angled in front of your body, and your right foot can be closer to your left hip.
  • Hips and Torso: Lower your upper body down, resting on your forearms or bringing your forehead to the ground if comfortable. You should feel a deep stretch in your right outer hip and glutes.
  • Hold: Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Switch Sides: Repeat the stretch by sliding your left knee forward, alternating sides.

3. butterfly stretch


Focusing on the inner thighs, this stretch aids in improving flexibility, essential for maintaining a balanced stride and preventing injuries.

You might feel discomfort when first performing this stretch however the more you do it, the more flexibility you will become. Aim to see if you can eventually touch your knees to the floor while performing the stretch!

  • Starting Position: Sit on the floor and bring the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to drop out to the sides.
  • Execution: Hold onto your feet or ankles with your hands.
  • Alignment: Sit up tall, lengthening your spine, and gently press your knees down towards the floor.
  • Hips and Torso: You should feel a stretch in your inner thighs and groin area.
  • Hold: Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute while maintaining a steady breath.

4. garland pose


 A deep squat that not only opens up the hips but also strengthens the lower body, offering stability and endurance during long runs.

If you aren’t used to this pose, you may need to start by holding onto something sturdy in front of you and work your way up to being able to doing this pose solo without holding on to anything.

  • Starting Position: Begin in a standing position with your feet wider than hip-width apart, toes pointing slightly outwards.
  • Execution: Lower your body into a deep squat, bending your knees and lowering your hips towards the ground.
  • Alignment: Keep your heels grounded and your torso as upright as possible. Your elbows can press against the inner thighs to help open up the hips further.
  • Hips and Torso: Focus on keeping your chest lifted and engaging your core muscles.
  • Hold: Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute, gradually working on increasing your comfort in the deep squat.

Remember, it's essential to listen to your body and not force any stretches beyond your comfort level.

Incorporate these stretches into your routine gradually to improve hip flexibility and prevent injuries while training for marathons.

Incorporating these stretches into your runner's routine, complemented by strength training exercises emphasizing the hip abductors and glute muscles, can notably enhance running performance and reduce the risk of hip-related injuries.

tips for improving hip flexbility

  • Take breaks during your long runs to stop and perform some of these stretches
  • Focus on utilizing proper running form 
  • Strengthen your hip muscles with targeted strength training 
  • Commit to spending just 5 minutes after a run focusing on stretching your hips
  • Consult a physical therapist or running coach if you need a more personalized plan to focus on your tight hip issues 

final thoughts for marathon-ready hips

Improving hip flexibility isn't just about increasing range of motion; it's about enhancing your running experience. 

Marathon runners can benefit immensely by incorporating targeted stretches, strength training exercises, and lifestyle adjustments into their training routine. 

By nurturing hip flexibility, runners can stride confidently, endure longer distances, and reduce the risk of injuries, leading to an overall better marathon experience.

Remember, the journey towards better hip flexibility is ongoing. 

With consistency, dedication, and a focus on hip health, marathon runners can optimize their performance and enjoy the thrill of running those long distances, all while keeping their hips happy and healthy.

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