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How to Warm Up for Running if You Struggle with Tight, Achy, Stiff Hips: A Beginner's Guide

I didn't know if I had EVER run that hard, that often, in ONE week.

And to make matters worse, we started off Day 1 of the week of pre-college cross country camp with an "easy, recovery" 5 miles.

(and their easy pace was easily nearing my race pace.)

To say the least, I was scared.

and by the end...very, VERY sore.

But I walked away that week with essentially a binder-ful of running resources.

How to eat.

Foods to avoid.

How to warm up and stretch so you wouldn't get injured.

(we didn't know about strength training for runners at this time...which I thought was stupid.)

But we diligently practiced that warm up routine every morning.

And while the workouts whooped my booty every. damn. day...

I expected more from the warm up drills.

Little did I know, this was the end of my collegiate running dreams, but the beginning of my PT career.

Even as a new-ish runner, I knew achey, sore, stiff hips was not ideal.

And I should solve that STAT.

The running folder filled with hips swings and scorpions and hamstring stretches and well...
none of them did a damn thing.

You might be in the same boat right now.

Scouring the internet looking for actual, effective, REAL exercises for runners to help fix your stiff, achey, sore hips.

Because even as a beginner (or just new-ish) runner, no, you don't have to suffer through stiff hips.

Let me give you the good hip exercises, the ones I wish I had when I first started running; the ones that actually work. ;)

Let's go.

For Beginner Runners: How to WARM UP if You Have Tight Hips


2-3 rounds // optional light to medium weight

Army Crawl with Hip (IR) Pumps

  • 10 each side

90-90 Shin Box with Frog Bridge Sit Up

  • 5 on R; R on L X optional light-medium weight

High Plank Hip Swivel

  • 12 Reps ea side

Frog Sit Up with Reach

  • 5 Reps ea side

Skipping the Tight Hip Struggle

Army Crawl with Hip (IR) Pumps

  • I know, this doesn't look like much. Hear me out...

  • THE SECRET: the ability of your hip to rotate is MEGA important! and this particular rotation called internal rotation (IR), is usually lacking in the majority of people, never mind runners. When you can access all of your internal hip rotation, you can actually begin to run faster, safer.

  • I usually poo-poo exercises like this because they're "open-chain" (think: not grounded) and therefore, not as good or functional. HOWEVER...I've been needing to do this exercise DAILY because I struggle to access all of my right hip IR and this is one way I can. And it helps me build up to harder exercises (and quiets down my cranky back pain caused by an overactive quadratus lumborum or QL).

90-90 Shin Box with Frog Bridge Sit Up

  • Think of this exercise like a 3D IMAX movie experience for your hips

  • THE POINT: this exercise encouraged you to move through end ranges of both hip rotations (internal and external rotation). And as you sit up on either "end" of the 90-90 shin box, you travel from hip flexion into hip extension (more important ways your hips move).

  • Making this even better: by adding in the Frog Bridge Sit up, you're engaging your glutes to sit up, DUH. But the magic: you're helping teach your body to "lock-in" and use the mobility you've created IMMEDIATELY! That's how you make mobility gains and unlock tight, cranky, stiff, aching hips for good so you can keep racking up your mileage, hip-issue free. ;)

High Plank Hip Swivel

  • This is another good "sneaky" way to work in more hip (internal) rotation.

  • WHY THIS WORKS: hang with me a second...The leg that is straight, is engaged! Your glutes are on, your quads are on; you're entire leg is working hard to hold your body up in essentially a 1 legged plank.

  • As you add in the hip swivel part, you start to "spin" the hip joint of the leg that is planted in place. The femoral bone part of your hip joint stays put; your pelvis rotates around it (think ball bearing). As you "swivel", you actively work into hip internal rotation while again, "locking into place" those mobility gains because of your activated glute and leg muscles.

Frog Sit Up with Reach

  • This looks harder/fancier than it is. YOU GOT THIS!

  • THE COOL PART: you've already done half of it with the frog bridge earlier. Now you're adding in quick, explosive movement, and some cool looking runner arms.

  • Popping up quickly into the first half of the exercise asks your muscles to engage and activate FAST. While slooooowly lowering back down asks them control your descent, working into eccentric strength. You literally get the best of both worlds, working on strength and skill in the same exercise while mobilizing your hips. Always work smarter, no harder.


Give this circuit an honest try before you next workout.

And if you're REALLY committed, do one round again AFTERWARDS, too.

Something the internet is not very good at explaining to runners:

It usually takes multiple reps or tries before your body learns a new skill or unlearns a "bad habit".

Gasp! Shocker, I know.

This exercises CAN provide you immediate relief, don't get me wrong!

But any mobility work is typically not a one-and-done and I-never-have-to-do-these-again situation.

Just trying to save you the heart ache from what the internet likes to sell you: instant results and hacks.

Because learning your body is empowering.

And provides you with better answers and results in the long run.

That's why we Dare to Train Differently.

If you're looking for MORE ways to lock in your new hip mobility, check out any of my running freebies HERE that are loaded with strength exercises specifically made for runners.

Strength is your secret weapon to not only keeping your hard-earned mobility-gains, but it also helps you run longer, stronger, and faster.

Dare to Train Differently,

Marie Whitt, PT, DPT //

P.S. really, really. grab 2 weeks worth of strength routines for runners with my Stronger Runner Challenge!

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