8 Best Glute Stretches (Relieve Tension & Prevent Injury)

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: March 11, 2024
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Whether you are an elite athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or simply someone who sits for extended periods, glute stretches can improve mobility, reduce pain, and prevent injury.

Before becoming a fitness coach more than ten years ago, I worked out regularly at the gym, and the glutes were always a trouble spot for me, so I focused on finding the best stretches to relieve the tension.

I bring what I learned to advise clients experiencing what I once did; therefore, this article discusses the best gluteal stretches you can easily incorporate into your fitness routine.

Quick Summary

  • The eight best glute stretches include the standing figure four stretch, knee to opposite shoulder, kneeling glute stretch, glute bridge, seated twist, supine glute stretch, seated glute stretch, and butterfly stretch.
  • To alleviate tight, aching glutes and prevent injury, incorporate these easy-to-do stretches into your routine.
  • The study conducted by the National Institute of Health reveals that engaging in stretching leads to increased muscle activity, requiring greater oxygen intake, resulting in a rise in respiratory rate from around 15 breaths per minute (equivalent to 12 liters of air) at rest to approximately 40–60 breaths per minute (equivalent to 100 liters of air) during physical activity.
  • In my opinion, regularly stretching the glutes is essential for anyone, especially those who sit for extended periods or are active in sports, to maintain flexibility and prevent discomfort.

Best Stretches for Glutes and Hips

Woman stretching her glutes and hips on floor

In my experience as a personal trainer, guiding my clients through these glute stretches has significantly improved their mobility and flexibility, while also reducing their risk of injury.

I always emphasize the importance of maintaining proper form during muscle stretching and encourage deep breathing to maximize the benefits of each stretch.

When you engage in stretching or exercise, your muscles undergo increased activity, necessitating higher oxygen intake and resulting in elevated carbon dioxide production.

According to the National Institute of Health, to meet this heightened demand, your respiratory rate typically rises from approximately 15 breaths per minute (equivalent to 12 liters of air) at rest to approximately 40–60 breaths per minute (equivalent to 100 liters of air) during physical activity [1].

1. Standing Figure Four Stretch

The standing figure four is an effective static stretch that targets your upper glute and helps alleviate hip and low back pain.

Follow these steps: 

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Slowly bend your right knee and place your right ankle on your left knee, creating a figure-four shape with your legs.
  3. Slowly lower your body into a squatting position, keeping your torso upright.
  4. Hold for 20–30 seconds, breathing deeply.
  5. Release and repeat with the left leg.

2. Knee to Opposite Shoulder

Old woman holding knee opposite to shoulder

This static stretch will relieve tension in the piriformis muscle, a small muscle that attaches the tailbone to the thigh bone and sits under the gluteus medius.

The piriformis muscle helps with hip rotation and flexion, so this stretch will help with flexibility and mobility.

Follow these steps: 

  1. Using a mat or padded floor for comfort, lie on your back.
  2. Place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
  3. Bend your knees.
  4. Keeping your left foot flat, lift your right leg towards your chest, clasping your hands around your knee or shin.
  5. Slowly guide your right knee across your body towards your left shoulder, using the strength of your core muscles to keep both shoulders on the ground.
  6. Hold the stretch for 10–15 seconds, feeling a gentle stretch in the outer hip, and then lower back to the starting position.
  7. Repeat with your left leg.

3. Kneeling Glute Stretch

Here is a stretch that targets your glutes and hip flexors.

Follow these steps: 

  1. Begin by kneeling on the ground with your knees hip-width apart.
  2. Extend your right leg to the side, keeping your right foot flat on the floor.
  3. Shift your weight towards your left hip as you put both your hands on the floor in front of you.
  4. Slowly lean forward, feeling a stretch in your right glute and hip flexor.
  5. Hold for 20–30 seconds before slowly returning to the starting position.
  6. Repeat with the opposite leg.

4. Glute Bridge

Doing glute bridge outdoors

The glute bridge stretch targets the glutes, quads, and lower back.

Follow these steps: 

  1. Lie on your back, keeping your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place your arms at your sides. Your palms should face down.
  3. Press through your heels, lifting your hips off the ground and keeping your knees aligned with your ankles.
  4. Hold for two seconds at the top of the movement, then slowly lower back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for 10–12 repetitions.

“Strengthening your glutes will improve your posture. It will also make everyday activities like walking and going up stairs easier.”

- Nicole Bowling, Certified Personal Trainer

Related: Difference Between Glute Bridge and Hip Thrust

5. Seated Twist

This stretch will help increase spinal mobility and release tension in the back and glutes.

Follow these steps: 

  1. Sit on the floor, extending your legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Bend your left knee, crossing it over your right leg, and place your left foot flat on the floor outside your right thigh.
  3. Set your right hand on your left knee while reaching your left arm behind you, placing your hand on the floor behind your back.
  4. Inhale deeply and lengthen through the spine, then exhale as you gently twist to the left, using the strength of your core muscles to deepen the stretch.
  5. Hold the pose for 5–10 deep breaths.
  6. Release the twist and return to the starting position.
  7. Switch sides and repeat.

6. Supine Glute Stretch

Man doing supine glute stretch indoor

I've found this particular glute stretch to be one of the most effective for releasing tension in the gluteus maximus and hip flexors.

Follow these steps: 

  1. Lie down on your back.
  2. Have both knees bent.
  3. Lift your right ankle and cross it over your left knee, creating a figure four shape with your legs.
  4. Reach through the space between your legs and hold the back of your left thigh with both hands.
  5. Gently pull your left thigh towards you, feeling a stretch in your right glute.
  6. Hold for 20–30 seconds, breathing deeply and relaxing into the stretch.
  7. Release
  8. Repeat on the other side by crossing your left ankle over your right knee.

7. Seated Glute Stretch

Here is a simple stretch to alleviate tightness in the glutes and hips.

Follow these steps: 

  1. Begin by sitting on the ground with your legs extended in front of you.
  2. Keeping your back straight, lift your right leg and place your right ankle on your left knee.
  3. Lean your upper body forward to deepen the stretch.
  4. Hold for 20 seconds, then return to the start.
  5. Repeat with your left leg.

8. Butterfly Stretch

The Butterfly Stretch is a simple yet effective exercise for improving flexibility in the hips and inner thighs, and it can also help stretch the glutes.

Follow these steps:

  1. Sit on the floor with a straight back. Bring the soles of your feet together in front of you.
  2. Allow your knees to fall out to the sides, creating a diamond shape with your legs. If your hips are tight, your knees might be higher up; that's okay.
  3. Gently hold your feet with your hands. You can deepen the stretch by using your elbows to press your knees towards the floor. However, ensure this is done gently to avoid any strain.
  4. For a deeper stretch, lean your torso forward from your hips. Keep your back straight rather than rounding it. You should feel the stretch in your inner thighs and hips.
  5. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, or longer if comfortable. Remember to breathe deeply and evenly throughout the stretch.
  6. You can repeat the stretch a few times, gently coming out of the position and then going back into it after a short break.

Why Do These Muscles Feel Tight?

Woman stretching tight muscles in glutes and thighs

Your glutes feel tight for various reasons, including exercise, overtraining, injury, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Genetics and age play a role, as some people naturally have reduced flexibility, and our muscles lose elasticity as we age.

Do Tight Glute Muscles Signal a Bigger Problem?

Tight glute muscles can signal a bigger problem, particularly if accompanied by other symptoms.

These include:

  • Swelling in your glutes
  • Severe muscle sensitivity
  • Redness
  • Severe muscle weakness
  • Persistent muscle tightness in the gluteal muscles that isn’t relieved with stretching
  • Fatigue or fever

Benefits of Stretching Tight Glute Muscles

  1. Improved Flexibility and Range of Motion: Stretching tight glute muscles can significantly enhance flexibility, making daily activities easier and improving your range of motion. This increased flexibility is particularly beneficial for athletic performance, as it allows for more fluid and efficient movement patterns, reducing the risk of injuries caused by stiff muscles.
  2. Enhanced Circulation: Regular stretching of the glute muscles helps improve blood flow to these areas. Better circulation facilitates the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, aiding in faster recovery post-exercise and reducing muscle soreness. This improved blood flow also helps in the removal of waste products from muscle metabolism.
  3. Reduced Back Pain: Tight glutes often contribute to lower back pain due to muscular imbalances and tension. Stretching these muscles can alleviate this tension, thereby reducing discomfort. It helps in maintaining proper posture and alignment, which is crucial for minimizing stress on the lower back.
  4. Decreased Risk of Injury: Tight muscles are more prone to strains and injuries. By stretching the glutes, you increase their flexibility and resilience, reducing the likelihood of muscle tears or pulls. This is especially important for athletes or individuals engaging in physical activities where the glutes are heavily utilized.
  5. Stress Relief and Relaxation: Stretching can be a calming activity, helping to release tension not just in the muscles but also in the mind. Focusing on the act of stretching and breathing can have a meditative effect, reducing overall stress levels. This relaxation of the glute muscles can also aid in better sleep and improved overall wellbeing.

FAQs

What Causes Extremely Tight Glutes?

The causes of extremely tight glutes can be poor posture, injury, a lack of proper warmups, overexertion, or poor form during exercise. Additionally, sitting for prolonged periods can also cause very tight glutes.

When Should You Stretch Your Glutes?

You should stretch your glutes before and after working out. Stretching before exercise increases blood flow and warms up the muscles. Stretching after training eliminates lactic acid and relaxes muscles, reducing injury risk.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4818249/
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About The Author

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
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Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
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Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
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