Exercises and activities that recruit your glutes can lead to stiffness in the buttocks, hips and outer thighs. Counteract this tightening effect with gentle stretches that target the entire gluteal area. For safety and maximum benefit, stretch after a general workout when your muscles are already warm and pliable. To relieve soreness at other times of the day, take a brisk 10-minute walk and complete a set of dynamic leg swings with each leg before performing static stretches.
This classic seated stretch targets the glutes and upper-outer thigh. It also helps relieve tension in the back. Sit on the floor with your back straight and your legs crossed in front of you. Raise your right knee and place the sole of your right foot on the floor to the left of your left knee. Position your left elbow against the outside of your right thigh and use it to press on the thigh while twisting your torso to the right. Rest your right hand on the floor slightly behind you and use it to increase your torso rotation. When you feel tension along your right buttock and upper outer thigh, hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat. Avoid the temptation to hold your breath during the rotation; consciously inhale and exhale at regular intervals.
Supine Bent-knee Crossover
It’s often easier to maintain proper form when stretching from a supine position. Lie on your back with your legs extended on the floor in front of you and your arms stretched out to your sides in a “T" position. Raise your right knee toward your chest until the thigh is perpendicular to the floor. Cross the knee over your body and to the left, slowly lowering it to the floor. Relax your hips and turn your head to the right, looking toward your extended right hand. To deepen the stretch, hook your left hand around the underside of your right thigh and gently pull the thigh toward your left shoulder. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds, lower the leg slowly to its initial position, then repeat the stretch with the left leg.
Seated Bent-Knee Crossover
While seated at your work desk, rest your right ankle on your left thigh, near the knee. Open your right knee to the side and press on it lightly with your right hand. With your head aligned over your spine and your back straight, slowly hinge forward from your hips. To deepen the stretch, lengthen your spine, tilt your pelvis forward slightly and feel your buttocks extend backward. When you experience mild tension along your right buttock, hip and outer thigh, hold the position for up to 30 seconds. Slowly release the right leg and lower it to the floor. Cross your left ankle over your right thigh and repeat the stretch on the left. For safety purposes, use a firm, stable chair without castors or wheels.
Prone Lunge Stretch
This exercise involves stretching from a forward-facing lunge position. Position yourself on your hands and knees. Slowly draw your right knee forward and rest the lower leg on the floor in front of you, perpendicular to your torso. Carefully lower your pelvis to the floor as you extend your left leg directly behind you. Your back knee should be directed to the floor. Slowly bend your torso forward toward the floor, using your arms to support you. When you feel tension in your right buttock and thigh, hold for up to 30 seconds, then slowly release. Repeat the stretch on the left.
- Yoga Journal: Great Glutes
- MayoClinic.com: Stretching -- Focus on Flexibility
- Runner's World: A Dynamic Routine
- Tina Juan Fitness: Pretzel Stretch
- Stretching: 30th Anniversary Edition; Bob Anderson
- ExRx.net: Prone Glute Stretch
Judy Fisk has been writing professionally since 2011, specializing in fitness, recreation, culture and the arts. A certified fitness instructor with decades of dance training, she has taught older adults, teens and kids. She has written educational and fundraising material for several non-profit organizations and her work has appeared in numerous major online publications. Fisk holds a Bachelor of Arts in public and international affairs from Princeton University.