Glute stretching exercises can help with flexibility and mobility. People can try a variety of options, including Downward Facing Dog and seated twists.

The gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus are the three muscles that make up the glutes. They support lower body movements, such as walking, sitting, and standing.

Stretching the glutes can help ease muscle tightness and improve range of motion. Yoga practices include a variety of glute stretches.

In this article, we discuss some of the benefits of glute stretching exercises and suggest some specific stretches to try.

A person performing the downward facing dog stretch. This is a good glute stretch to help improve mobility and flexibility.Share on Pinterest
Image credit: Dragon Images / Getty Images.

Muscle stiffness is a common problem that can cause tightness and difficulty when moving the muscles. Excessive exercise, physical labor, or long hours at a desk job can cause muscle stiffness.

Stretching and gentle exercise can help with muscle stiffness. Regularly stretching the glutes can help reduce or avoid muscle stiffness in the lower body. Stretching the glutes can also help increase mobility and flexibility.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend including stretching exercises to increase flexibility. Flexible glutes promote better lower body mobility and help with standing, walking, and sitting.

The Arthritis Foundation also advise people with arthritis to use stretching exercises to lubricate the joints and maintain range of motion. Glute stretches could be particularly helpful for people with arthritis in the knees or hips.

Some people also use stretching to prevent injuries. Preparing the muscles for exercise may reduce the risk of damage. However, there is a lack of evidence to support this.

Some exercises may also increase glute strength. Muscle strengthening exercises improve bone health, balance, and body composition.

Some safety tips include:

  • Avoiding using stretching as a warm-up activity: People should aim for 5–10 minutes of warm-up exercises before starting to stretch. Warm muscles can stretch for longer and are less likely to cause injury.
  • Bouncing as little as possible: Bouncing during stretching can cause damage. Instead, aim to hold each stretch still for up to 60 seconds and move carefully between stretches.
  • Consulting a doctor or physical therapist about any injuries: Stretching an injured glute can worsen the damage in some cases. Although stretching is an important part of recovery, it should be under the guidance of a professional.

People should avoid stretching at the start of a workout without warming up first. Warming up can include gentle exercises, such as walking.

Dynamic stretching is another option to increase blood flow to the glutes. Dynamic stretching involves performing similar movements to a sport or exercise at a slower pace. For example, slowly squatting up and down can warm up the glutes.

Some people will perform stretches before another type of workout, such as running or strength training. Fitting in short stretching sessions at other times of the day is another option.

Some glute stretches to try include:

Standing Figure Four

Standing Figure Four is a yoga pose that aims to improve balance and work the glutes. To perform this pose:

  1. Stand upright and lift one knee out in front.
  2. Rotate the knee outward and let the outside ankle sit above the knee on the standing leg.
  3. Slowly bend the standing leg to lower the body into a sitting position.
  4. Return to standing and then repeat on the other side.

Anyone who initially finds it very difficult to balance can hold onto a steady table or desk for support.

Seated Figure Four

This stretch is a seated variation of the Standing Figure Four. It involves less balancing but still stretches the glutes. To perform this stretch:

  1. Sit upright in a chair.
  2. Place the left ankle on the right knee, with the left knee pointing out to the side.
  3. Keeping a straight back, lean forward until there is a stretch in the glutes.
  4. Relax, then switch legs and repeat.

Seated twist

The seated twist stretches the spine, lower back, and glutes. To perform a seated twist:

  1. Sit with the legs straight out in front.
  2. Bend the left knee and cross it over the right thigh, placing the foot flat on the ground. The left ankle should sit alongside the right glute.
  3. Place the elbow of the right arm on the outside of the left thigh and gently twist the upper body to the left as though looking over the shoulder.
  4. Return to the starting position and then repeat on the other side.

Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog is a popular yoga pose that stretches the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. It involves the steps below:

  1. Start on the hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  2. Slowly lift the knees away from the floor, extending the tailbone away from the ground. Keep a slight bend in the knees.
  3. Press the thighs back and gently push the heels as close to the floor as possible while straightening the knees. There should be a stretch, but it should not be painful.

Knee to chest

Knee-to-chest stretches work the glutes:

  1. Lie flat on the back with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Bring one knee into the hands, and gently pull it toward the chest.
  3. Hold the knee in position, then slowly extend the other leg.
  4. Relax, then repeat on the other side.

Stretching exercises for the glutes are good for increasing flexibility and mobility, and reducing muscle tightness. There are various glute stretching exercises that also target other muscles, such as the lower back.

It is important not to perform these exercises without first warming the glutes up, such as by walking or dynamic stretching. People with glute injuries should see a doctor or physical therapist before stretching these muscles.