Strengthen and relieve tight hips with one resistance and these three exercises

These mobility exercises will strengthen your hip flexors to help keep them pain-free

Woman doing resistance band squat
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you spend the majority of your day sitting down, it’s common for your joints to get a little stiff, sore and creaky, particularly your hips. Stretching can certainly help, but it's also key to strengthen these muscles to improve your overall hip health and keep the pain at bay. These three exercises will help do just that and you don't even need to go to the gym to do them. All you'll need is a small resistance band.

According to the Hospital for Special Surgery, when our hips aren’t in use (such as being sat down for long periods of time) it puts our “hip flexors in a compressed position, causing them to shorten and tighten up”. Not only will this make everyday tasks more difficult, as it affects our ability to move correctly, but it’ll affect your athletic performance too, such as your ability to squat deep or run fast. This is why it's so important to make sure we keep them strong and mobile and these three exercises are a great way to do this.

1. Banded clamshells

Woman doing clamshells

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Reps/time: 30 seconds per side Rounds: 2

According to the National Academy of Sport Medicine, clam shells are excellent for increasing hip stability, as they strengthen your glute medius. When this glute muscle is weak, your hips may become unaligned (for example, you slouch to one side), which can then lead to pain in the lower back and poor movement. Clamshells however, strengthen the glute medius, keeping your hips aligned to stop this from happening.

To perform:

  • Place a resistance band just above your knees 
  • Lie on the floor with your legs together and knees bent at a 45 degree angle
  • Keeping your feet together, lift the top leg open as far as you can (like a clamshell), then return it to a closed position

This is a small movement, so don't worry if you can't open your legs very wide. Also the resistance of your band will affect this.

2. Banded marches

Woman doing banded marches

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Reps/time: 15 per side Rounds: 2

Although this is a very simple exercise, each time you raise your leg you should feel your hips and glutes working, while the resistance band will add an extra challenge. You can perform them either led down (like in the picture above) or standing if you struggle with floor-based exercises. If you want to make the exercise more challenging, hold your leg for one to two seconds in the raised position, before lowering it back down to the floor.

To do:

  • Place your feet inside the resistance band, so it sits around the balls of your feet
  • With your hands on your hips for extra stability, lift one leg up as far as you can and hold here for a second
  • Lower back to the starting position and repeat on the other side

3. Banded lateral walks

Man doing banded lateral walks

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Sets/time: 30 secs per side Rounds: 2

This exercise is often a staple used by physical therapists to build hip strength. Start off with placing the band around your thighs first then, once this becomes too easy, move the band to around your ankles to make things more challenging.

To do:

  • Place a band around either your knees (easier) or ankles (harder)
  • Have your feet hip width apart, a soft bend in your knees and hips hinged slightly
  • Take one step out to the side with your leg, then step your opposite foot in to meet it
  • Continue doing this on one side for the amount of time stated above, then swap sides

If you have no home gym equipment, then here's five hip mobility exercises that you can do using just your bodyweight, or some exercises you can do straight from your working desk as they're all seated. Another option is investing in a good massage gun, as these can also help relieve sore, tight muscles. We particularly love the Bob & Brad Air2 Mini, not only is it just as good as the Theragun Mini, but it's also half the price.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.