If you think about all of the hip stretches that you probably do on the regular, there’s a very high chance that they all have one thing in common: They involve externally rotating your hips. Well, according to trainer Charlee Atkins, that only solves half of the hip-opening equation… because you should be incorporating internal rotation of hips, too.
“When people talk about tight hips, they’re typically talking about tight hip flexors: quads, deep hip flexors… muscles that bring the knee closer to the chest,” says Atkins, nodding to externally-rotating exercises like pigeon pose and figure-four stretch. “While most of the time, yes, the stretching of muscles that externally rotate the hip feels nice, we often forget that the hip also internally rotates. So incorporating both internal and external rotational stretches will help to balance out the entire pelvis.”
As a refresher, here’s how to do pigeon pose correctly (for an external hip stretch):
By stretching out your hips in both directions, you’ll be moving your pelvis through its full range of motion… which then makes your hips more mobile overall (not to mention feel more balanced than they would if you were to just do pigeon pose stretches). Want to try the internal-focused hip stretches for yourself? Keep scrolling.
Two ways to do an internal rotation of hips
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, hip-width distance apart. Press your knees together, and begin walking your feet apart from each other (keeping your knees together) until you feel a gentle stretch. “Don’t go too far—just until you feel that initial gentle pull,” says Atkins.
2. Position your legs in a 90-90 position (with both knees bent, your front thigh parallel with your back calf, back thigh parallel with your front calf). Sit upright and try to get your back glute to kiss the ground.