Everywhere you look, there's a wealth of advice for building your glutes, but what about stretching them? Whether you have tight hips, lower back pain, or are a runner looking to improve your performance, glute stretching exercises could be a great addition to your fitness regimen. Throughout this article, you’ll find tips and tricks for how best to stretch your glutes, helping to improve stability and flexibility and reduce the risk of injury, no matter your fitness level.
The importance of stretching glutes
Located in the buttock area, your glutes are made up of three different muscles called the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. They are some of the largest and most powerful muscles in the body and without them, we wouldn’t be able to walk, run, jump, or carry out many of our daily activities. Simply put, it's important to keep them strong and flexible for everyday activities.
If you’ve ever felt the discomfort of having tight glutes, you’ll know that it’s not just a pain in the backside but something that affects your mobility and range of motion, too. Glute stretching exercises are excellent for increasing lower body mobility, helping boost flexibility in an area that can often get stiff.
Benefits of glute stretching
Stretching your glutes offers a myriad of benefits, including:
- Enhanced flexibility. Regularly performing glute stretching exercises can help increase muscle elasticity, allowing for greater mobility and range of motion in the pelvis, hips, and lower back.
- Injury prevention. Muscle tightness is one of the factors that can contribute to the risks of strains and sprains in muscles and ligaments. Glute stretching helps improve flexibility and range of motion, which can reduce the risk of injury.
- Improved performance. Having flexible glutes can enhance your athletic performance in sports such as running, cycling, and weightlifting.
- Postural correction. Muscle tightness can be a contributing factor to poor posture, so stretching the glutes may help reduce the risk of lower back pain and postural imbalances.
Best glute stretches
If you are wondering how to stretch your glutes, here are some of the best glute stretching exercises suitable for beginners and more experienced athletes.
1. Pigeon pose
Ideal for deep glute stretching and beneficial for runners
Start in a plank position, bring your right knee forward toward your right hand, and extend your left leg straight behind you. As you lower your hips toward the ground, you should feel a deep stretch in the right glute. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch sides.
2. Seated stretch
Simple and effective for beginners
Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, then gently lean forward, keeping your back straight, until you feel a stretch in your right glute. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch sides.
3. Foam rolling
Good for post-workout recovery
Lie on your back with a foam roller positioned under your glutes. Roll back and forth slowly, pausing on any tender spots while taking slow deep breaths. Roll for around 1–2 minutes on each side.
4. Lunges with a twist
This dynamic stretch targets the glutes and improves flexibility
Step your right foot forward into a lunge position. Twist your torso to the right, placing your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Hold for a few seconds, feeling a stretch in the glutes and hips. Repeat on the other side.
5. Bridge pose
For stretching and strengthening simultaneously
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips toward the ceiling, squeezing your glutes at the top. Hold for a few seconds, then lower back down. Repeat for 10–15 reps.
Pre-workout vs. post-workout stretching
In order for your stretching regimen to be most effective, you have to know the difference between pre- and post-workout stretching. Ideally, you want to be doing both at the beginning and end of your workouts, as they each have separate and very important functions.
Essentially, pre-workout exercises focus on aiding recovery and reducing muscle soreness, while post-workout exercises aim to prepare the muscles for activity by increasing blood flow and range of motion.
Pre-run stretching routine
Whether you are an avid runner, or you’ve only just bought your first pair of running shoes, making sure you perform pre-run glute stretches beforehand is essential to warm the body up and prevent injuries.
1. Dynamic leg swings
Stand upright and swing one leg forward and backward in a controlled motion, gradually increasing the range of motion with each swing. Repeat 10–15 times on each leg.
2. Hip circles
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your hands on your hips. Circle your hips in a clockwise motion, then switch to counterclockwise. Perform 10 circles in each direction.
3. Walking lunges
Take exaggerated lunging steps forward, bending the front knee and focusing on stretching the hip flexors and glutes with each step. Perform 10 lunges on each leg.
Post-run recovery stretches
If you’ve ever been for a run and forgotten to stretch afterward, you’ll be familiar with the muscle tightness the next day. Here are some of the best glute stretches for runners to aid in recovery and alleviate tightness post-run.
1. Figure-four stretch
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, then gently pull your left knee towards your chest until you feel a stretch in the right glute. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
2. Child's pose
Kneel on the floor with your big toes touching and knees spread apart. Sit back on your heels and reach your arms forward, lowering your head and chest towards the ground. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, focusing on deep breathing and relaxing the glutes.
3. Seated forward fold
Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Reach your arms overhead, then hinge forward from the hips, reaching towards your toes. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, feeling a stretch in the hamstrings and glutes.
Are there any risks associated with glute stretching?
Despite the numerous benefits of glute stretching exercises, there is such a thing as over-stretching, which can damage your muscles and make you more prone to injuries such as muscle strains, ligament sprains, joint instability, or aggravating any existing injuries.
You should always aim for a balance between stretching and strengthening and remember to listen to your body — don’t force yourself into any glute stretches that feel uncomfortable or painful.
Frequency and duration recommendations for glute stretches
You can include glute stretching exercises into your warm-up and warm-down routines whenever you plan on exercising.
Aim for up to 4 sessions per week, performing each set of stretches 2–3 times and holding each stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Pay attention to the signals from your body and adjust the frequency and duration of your stretching sessions according to your individual needs and goals.
Should I stretch my glutes every day?
You can stretch your glutes every day, but you must be mindful of over-stretching and potentially causing an injury or weakness in the muscle. In general, 2–3 sessions per week is enough to start seeing improvements in flexibility.
What are the signs of over-stretching?
Signs of over-stretching include pain, discomfort, or a feeling of instability in the area you have stretched. If you experience these symptoms, ease out of the stretch gently, rest the muscle for a few days, and always consult a healthcare professional if you feel concerned.
Can glute stretches help relieve back pain?
Depending on the cause of your back pain, glute stretches may be able to help. By reducing tightness in the lower back and pelvis, improving posture, and enhancing mobility, you may notice a reduction in lower back pain symptoms.
Glute stretches can help improve flexibility, enhance athletic performance, and alleviate muscle tightness in the lower back and pelvic areas.
Aim for 2–3 glute stretching exercise sessions each week, ensuring that you listen to your body and don't over-stretch.
Glute stretching exercises are particularly beneficial for runners and those who spend a lot of time seated.
- Advances in Physical Education. Hip mobility and flexibility for track and field athletes.
- Journal of Sports Rehabilitation. A systematic review of rehabilitation exercises to progressively load the gluteus medius.