Learn the 90/90 stretch: Eliminate tight hips

AUTHOR: Jack Hanrahan

The benefits of the 90/90 stretch

If your hips are stiff, pinchy or just not moving well, start with the 90/90 stretch. There is a logical, biological reason for this: it targets the deepest stuff.

This is a principle of effective mobility training. To expand range of motion you need to target the deepest muscles (and tissues) first

When it comes to the hip, forget hamstrings, hip flexors, inner groin muscles. That’s all superficial hip muscles. The deepest stuff is the hip capsule.

This is a visual of the hip joint:


Now imagine that the capsule is so tight that there is no space in the joint for the head of your femur (upper leg bone) to move relative to the pelvis.

This is what’s happening if you have a tight hip capsule. It will negatively impact your range of motion in every direction.

You can’t run well. You can’t squat well. You can’t do much of anything that needs your hip to move.

How do you know if you have a tight hip capsule?

Try this quick test.



You should have between a 60-90 degree window of rotation (swinging the leg in and out). If not, it’s time to get familiar with the 90/90 and start freeing up your hips!

This 90/90 stretch works to loosen the capsule and create space in your joint so that your hip can move more freely.


Good. Let’s get learning.

How to do the 90/90 stretch

The 90/90 refers to the start position (notice the two 90 degree angles). But it’s actually made up of two stretches. You stretch the front hip first and then adjust to stretch the back hip after.

Let’s break it down.

Part 1: Front Hip

This stretch is to improve external rotation of the forward hip.


Set up

  • Sit on the ground with your left leg forward and right leg back.
  • Point your front thigh forward with a 90 degree angle at the knee.
  • Point your back thigh out to the side with a 90 degree angle at the back knee.
  • Place hands on the ground. Right hand on the inside of your legs, left hand on the outside of your left leg.
  • Square your shoulders to your front shin, and sit tall.


Find the stretch

  • With a perfectly straight back (no rounding) lean the shoulders forward and pushing your butt back.
  • You should feel a deep stretch under your front hip.
  • Hold this position for 2 minutes.
  • Take slow, deep breaths, in and out through your nose.

Part 2: Back Leg Focus

This stretch is to improve internal rotation of the back hip.


Find the stretch

  • Place the sole of your front foot against your back thigh.
  • Take the inside hand and place it behind your body.
  • Square your shoulders to the back shin and sit as tall as you can.
  • Think about sinking your weight into that back hip.
  • You should feel a deep stretching sensation 2-3 inches deep to the “pocket” or where a pocket would be.
  • Hold this position for 2 minutes.
  • Take slow, deep breaths, in and out through your nose.

    How to modify the 90/90 stretch

    Does your body look like this? Shoulders spilling out to the side with the front knee raised off the ground? That’s ok! It’s normal at first.


    Here’s how we can modify the 90/90 stretch so that it’s comfortable for you, enabling you to “find the stretch” in the right place.



    • Elevate the outside arm by placing the heel of your palm against a raised, solid object like a yoga block. This will help to straighten your spine so that the shoulders are nicely stacked over your hips.
    • Close down the angle of the front knee so that it’s more like 45 degrees rather than a true 90. This will reduce the angle of external rotation. Place a cushion or foam pad under the knee for support.
    • From here, follow the “find the stretch” instructions for the front leg part of the stretch.

    How will the 90/90 stretch help your lifting and training?

    It will make your hips move smoother and more efficiently. That will have crossover benefits across all of your fitness work.

    For lifting, it improves movement for the squat and hinge (think deadlifts or kettlebell swings).

    It’s also a great primer before a weights session if you have been sitting down a lot beforehand. 

    How do you program the 90/90?

    You can perform this exercise on its own, as a warm up or as part of a structured mobility routine. Frequent and consistent application of this stretch is important to affect permanent change, so shoot for at least twice a week.

    If you’re looking for structured mobility routines to follow that incorporate this stretch and other effective moves, look no further than the PRGRM App. We teach you the fundamentals of mobility training and have a hip mobility series that you can do as part of your well-rounded fitness program.

    1 Comment

    1. Daniel

      Good pictures and explanation.
      Like the writing style. Thank you


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