I’m a personal trainer — here are 3 reasons I added the 90/90 hip stretch to my warm-ups

Woman performing pigeon pose with her head tilted backwards
(Image credit: Getty)

The 90/90 hip stretch is one of the best exercises you can do for happy and healthy hips. Whether you’re prepping for a workout or fighting stiffness after a long workday, this essential mobility move can open up tense muscles and restricted joints.

Lots of squats, lunges, and runs have made my hips exceptionally tight recently, so I decided to add the 90/90 hip stretch into my warm-ups. There are three reasons why I recommend giving it a try yourself and making it a permanent addition to your routine. 

You won’t need any additional equipment to do the 90/90 hip stretch, but you may want to roll out a yoga mat for a little cushioning. 

How to do the 90/90 hip stretch

As with any exercise you attempt, good form is crucial. A yoga block can help you get into the correct position if you’re having trouble maintaining proper alignment.

  • Sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you and bring your right leg behind you, keeping your left leg in front
  • Bend your left knee at a 90-degree angle, with the left hip, thigh, and knee in alignment and the left shin perpendicular to the left thigh
  • Bend your right knee at a 90-degree angle, with the right hip, thigh, and knee in alignment and the right shin perpendicular to the right thigh.
  • Keep your spine tall and centered above your pelvis. Don’t allow your body to lean to the left (place your left hand on a yoga block to achieve correct alignment, if necessary)
  • Square your shoulders to the wall in front of you and place both hands on the floor. Without rounding the back, lean your chest forward toward your left knee, feeling a strong stretch in your left hip
  • Hold in this position for 30 seconds. Repeat the stretch on the right side

While I usually recommend dynamic (or movement-based) stretching before a workout, adding the static 90/90 stretch to my warm-ups resulted in some significant performance improvements.

Still, stretching cold muscles is one of the worst mistakes you can make, so be sure to do a few leg swings and a short 3-minute walk before you hold the stretch. You can also choose to add the 90/90 stretch to your cooldowns. 

It improved my range of motion

If you spend most of your days at a desk, chances are your hips are incredibly stiff. Stretching your quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors is beneficial, but the 90/90 stretch affects much deeper muscles and tissues that can allow your hip joints to move more freely and in a greater range of motion.

I immediately noticed this greater range of motion. The first few strides of my runs often feel constricted, and after adding the 90/90 stretch to my warm-ups, I began to run with naturally wider, easier strides. It even clipped a few seconds off of my normal 5K time.   

My lower body workouts felt easier

When you can’t squat or deadlift with a proper range of motion, the muscles that should be working are hampered, potentially leading to altered movement patterns and compensation injuries.

And when muscles that shouldn’t be working are forced to take on heavy loads, it can make your workouts feel exceptionally challenging. Adding a quick 90/90 stretch to my warm-ups resulted in lower-body workouts that felt like a breeze.

I was even able to add heavier weights to a few exercises. This was a relatively surprising discovery, as my leg days are almost always arduous. 

My lower back and knee pain decreased

Active lifestyles come with their fair share of aches and pains. My lower back and knees give me the most aggravation, and it’s usually a struggle to keep these areas in tip-top condition. 

The 90/90 hip stretch is primarily for the hips, but the impacts can be felt throughout your entire body. My lower back and knees were relatively pain-free on the days I stretched pre-workout, and this alone was enough to convince me that I should be doing it every day. 

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Jennifer Rizzuto

Jennifer Rizzuto is a freelance writer and certified personal trainer based in Long Island, NY. She covers various fitness-related topics and reviews for Tom's Guide. She also writes sketch comedy and short films, and performs frequently as an actor, singer, and improviser. When she's not writing, working out, or performing, you'll find her trying to convince her husband to get a dog.