Hips hips hips. What can you do for tight hips? I hear it frequently. It’s one of the top complaints for Olympic weightlifters, much in part due to all the heavy squatting that is programmed on a regular basis. Hips are one area of the Fundamental Five; five areas that should be addressed daily to increase your range of motion. That said, a great stretch to increase hip flexion is the Standing Pigeon. You can take this one to the mat if your hips are open enough, but if you are like the rest of us, find a ledge or box to use instead (hip height is standard). The higher the box, the more intense the stretch. For the demonstration video below, we will assume a box that is roughly at hip height.
Setup Instructions and Important Cues
- To set up, stand evenly and square yourself facing the box. Hips should be even and parallel to the box.
- Lift your leg and place it flat on top of the box. This leg should be straight in line with the edge of the box. If it isn’t, continue to adjust until it is.
- On the exhale, push with your knee into the box while flexing your foot (box leg) to begin deepening the stretch.
- Inhale, check your alignment to make sure that your standing leg is perpendicular to the box, that your hips are square (parallel to the box) and that the lifted leg is straight in line to the box.
- On the exhale, while pushing your knee into the box, use your hand to intensify the stretch further by pressing that hand on top of the knee that's on the box.
- With each inhale, check your hip alignment and with each exhale, deepen the stretch pressing further into the box.
This stretch should be held for 30-40 seconds. Only go so deep as you feel a solid stretch. Discomfort is expected, but pain, sharp or otherwise is not.
If you are unable to lay your leg flat on the box, keep the leg in line with the edge of the box and continue to work toward the box. You do not have to lay your leg on the box.
Try a different box height. Everyone's body is different so play with the height to achieve the most accessible stretch for you.
You can also take this stretch to the floor where your body weight will assist in deepening the stretch.
Sandra Arechaederra has actively practiced yoga for years but maintains a focus on its application for improving athletic performance. Sandra is an accomplished Olympic weightlifter in her own right, having medaled at the 2010 USA National Championship Meet, she continues her work with the California Strength weightlifting team on a weekly basis for mobility training and runs a mobility program implemented with the California Strength NFL Combine Prep Class every year. Sandra has her 200 RYT credential as a certified Yoga Teacher.