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5 Pain Free Stretches for Severe Hip Pain to Improve Pain and Range of Motion

5 Pain Free Stretches for Severe Hip Pain to Improve Pain and Range of Motion

Dr. Michael Derry, DPT, PT, OCS Jacksonville, Florida
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Severe hip pain can be really tricky. There is a balance between regaining range of motion and strength while reducing pain. When I work with my clients we need to focus on all of these so you can get back to your life.

It's also worth considering the true cause of your pain. Sometimes hip pain can be from your lower back! 

Now, let's learn about 5 exercises that I have seen make a big difference in my clients' hip pain.

Is Stretching Safe While Experiencing Hip Pain? 

Stretching is absolutely safe for hip pain. That said, it's all about listening to your body. When you are experiencing pain, the last thing you want to do is make it worse!

What I tell my clients while stretching is that it should be relativity pain free and we will utilize pulses and movements rather than prolonged holds. Stretching isn't about holding the stretch and pushing through it, it is about regaining range and reducing pain. Keep that in mind as you stretch your hip! 

These may be useful if you are wanting to stretch your hip and lower back at the same time! 

Considerations Before Starting a Stretching Routine

Although you are likely already experiencing pain, stretching and movement is not supposed to make your pain worse. So, try stretching on your own but if you are feeling worse, then I would consider receiving an evaluation by a physical therapist to make sure you are doing thing correctly for your diagnosis.

The number one thing that you need to do before stretching is listen to your body!

More does not always equal better.

Take these movements and make them fit you and your life. You know your body better than anyone. So make sure you are doing what is best for you!


5 Stretches for Severe Hip Pain

The 5 exercises that we are going to be talking about are:

  • Knee to Chest
  • Piriformis Stretch
  • Glute Stretch
  • Hip/Lumbar Rotations
  • Bridges

They are focused on improving all the range of motions related to your hip: flexion, internal and external rotation, and extension.

Knee to Chest

Knees to Chest Stretch
Knee to Chest Stretch

When you're having hip pain, most of the time it feels good to lay on your back. So all of these stretches are going to be done laying down. The first stretch is knees to chest.

Lay down on your back and pull one knee up to your chest at a time. You are going to pulse in this motion. Do not pull too hard where you experience pain! Remember, these are no pain movements! Do this for about 15 to 20 reps and a 1 second hold.

Piriformis Stretch

Piriformis Stretch
Piriformis Stretch

The piriformis stretch is also called the figure four stretch. Put one foot on the ground with your knee up and then place the other foot on your knee. You are going to press your knee and pulse with this stretch. Long holds with a lot of force does not feel good! Pulse into the stretch for about 15 to 20 reps.

Glute Stretch

Glute Stretch
Glute Stretch

This stretch is going to really help if you experience pain on the outside of your hips. While laying on your back, grab one knee and pull it over your body. Do not pull hard, only pull until you feel a little bit of a stretch, not pain! You will feel this in your glute. Pulse with this stretch for about 15 to 20 reps.

Hip/Lumbar Rotations

Hip or lumbar Rotations exercise
Hip or Lumbar Rotations

For hip roations, while you are laying on your back, place your feet on the ground with your knees up. Then you are going to move your knees side to side. This stretch is great for hip mobility! You want to be sure you are doing this with a pain free range. That means, do not rotate until it hurts, just rotate until you feel a little stretch! Do this for 20 reps.

The Classic Bridge

Bridge Stretch
Bridge Stretch

The last stretch is a bridge. With the same starting position as the hip rotations, you are going to lift your bottom off of the ground. I know you have done this before but it opens up your hip flexors and can feel really good! 

Pulse up and down moving your bottom from the floor to the air. This stretch should be felt in the front of your hips. The extension is great for back a hip mobility!


All of these movements are going to decrease inflammation, lower your mobility deficits, and decrease your pain!

Managing severe hip pain requires a balance of range of motion, strength, and pain reduction. Stretching is a safe and effective method when done with caution and mindfulness. The provided exercise target various aspects of hip mobility while minimizing discomfort. However, individualized care and listening to your body are paramount. If pain worsens, seeking evaluation from a physical therapist is recommended. Remember, more is not always better; prioritize quality over quantity in your stretching routine.


Enseki KR, Bloom NJ, Harris-Hayes M, Cibulka MT, Disantis A, Di Stasi S, Malloy P, Clohisy JC, Martin RL. Hip Pain and Movement Dysfunction Associated With Nonarthritic Hip Joint Pain: A Revision. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2023 Jul;53(7):CPG1-CPG70. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2023.0302. PMID: 37383013.

Dr. Michael Derry is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and board certified in orthopedics. He is very passionate about treating lower back pain and helping people build their resiliency. He has spent time assisting at universities as well as managing large clinics before starting his own practice in Jacksonville, FL.

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