Hip cracking or discomfort may cause someone to want to stretch or “pop” their hip back into place. To do this at home, a person can try different methods, such as lunges, stretches, and yoga.

The hip is a major joint in the body. It is important for weight bearing and movement. Some factors that can affect hip health include age, weight, pregnancy, and injury.

At times, a person’s hips may feel like they are no longer aligned properly. In some cases, a tight hip joint may be the only issue. At other times, the tight hip may be painful or make a cracking sound.

Keep reading for information on how to safely unlock a hip at home and when to see a doctor.

There are several ways a person can unlock their hip at home. Some of the safest methods are listed below. As with any stretch, a person should warm up first to help promote blood flow and flexibility.

1. Side lunge

a gif of a Side lunge stetch

A side lunge stretches the legs and hips.

For a side lunge, a person should do the following:

  • Stand up straight with the feet set wide apart.
  • Lean to the left and bend the left knee.
  • Stretch as far as is comfortable and hold the pose for a few seconds.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

2. Butterfly stretch

a gif of a Butterfly stretch

The butterfly stretch is a good exercise for stretching the hips and improving flexibility. People may feel their hip “pop” during the stretch.

To perform the butterfly stretch, a person should do the following:

  • Sit on the floor with both legs bent at the knee so that the soles of each foot are touching.
  • Keep the back straight while sitting down.
  • Using the palms of each hand, gently push the knees down toward the ground.
  • Hold the pose for a few seconds, before gently releasing the knees.

For a slight variation on the butterfly stretch, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommend the seated glute stretch.

The seated glute stretch begins in the same seating position as the butterfly stretch.

However, instead of touching the soles of the feet together, a person tucks one foot into the opposite thigh. They should then lean forward and hold the pose for about 30 seconds.

3. Rotating hip in a chair

a gif of a Chair stretch

Similar to the butterfly stretch, a person can stretch one side of the hips at a time while sitting in a chair. To do this, they should follow these steps:

  • Sit up straight in the chair with both feet firmly on the ground.
  • Bring the right leg up to rest the right ankle on top of the left knee.
  • Using the palm of the right hand, gently push the right knee toward the floor and hold for a few seconds.
  • Repeat the stretch on the opposite side.

4. Pigeon pose

a gif of Pigeon pose

The pigeon pose will help to stretch the posterior hip. It is one of the more complicated poses and may require some practice. However, most people should be able to perform it to some degree.

Ideally, people should perform the pigeon pose on a soft mat to aid comfort and prevent injury.

To perform the pigeon pose, the individual should do the following:

  • Begin the pose on the hands and knees.
  • Bring the right knee forward to rest just behind the right wrist.
  • Straighten the left leg out behind the body.
  • Bring the right foot to rest behind the left wrist, so that the outer edge of the foot is resting on the mat.
  • Lower the hips and left leg as close to the mat as feels comfortable.
  • Hold the pose for 20–30 seconds.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

5. Kneeling hip flexor stretch

a gif of Kneeling hip flexor stretch

The ACE recommend the kneeling hip flexor stretch for loosening the hips and helping to promote overall hip health.

To perform a kneeling hip flexor stretch, a person should do the following:

  • Begin in a single leg kneeling position, with the left knee flat against the floor.
  • Bend the right knee out in front, placing the right foot against the floor.
  • Keep the back straight and gently contract the left glute.
  • Gently move your trunk forward until a stretch is felt.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

6. Trunk rotation while standing

It is possible to stretch or “pop” the hip while standing. To do so, a person should try the following:

  • Stand with the feet shoulder width apart.
  • Clasp both hands together in front of the body at chest height.
  • Gently twist the upper body to the left, as far as is comfortable, while keeping the lower body stationary.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds.
  • Return slowly to the center.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

There are certain risks and precautions that a person should be aware of when attempting to unlock their hip at home. These include:

Warming up

It is important to warm up for several minutes before stretching the hips. An insufficient warmup can strain and injure the muscles, causing pain.

Avoiding sudden, jarring movements

When stretching, a person should avoid sudden, jarring movements. These can cause injury to muscles and tendons.

Avoiding certain stretches

A person should not attempt any stretch they are not comfortable with. This includes stretches that may put a person off balance and increase the risk of a fall.

People should also avoid doing any hip stretch that causes additional pain or discomfort. If a person starts a hip stretch and it causes pain, they should stop the stretch.

Seeking expert advice

Some people experience hip pain as a result of injury. In these cases, they should not attempt to stretch their hip without instructions from their healthcare provider.

The medical term for cracking or popping joints is crepitus. The most common cause of crepitus is air trapped inside the joint.

This can happen for several reasons, including joint inflammation and a tight or restricted joint.

Other potential causes of crepitus include the following conditions:

  • Arthritis: A condition that causes joint pain and inflammation.
  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the small, fluid-filled sacs that cushion tissues near the joints.
  • Tendinitis: Inflammation of the tendons, or tissues that attach muscle to bone.
  • Snapping hip syndrome: Inflamed muscle tendons that click as they rub over bone.
  • Labral tear: A tear in the labrum, or soft cartilage surrounding the hip.

A person should see their doctor if their hip feels frequently or persistently misaligned, or they experience pain when it cracks.

A doctor will work to diagnose any underlying issues and recommend appropriate treatments. Depending on the cause, treatment may consist of one or more of the following:

If a person’s hip feels locked or tight, they may feel the need to “pop” the hip back into place. There are several hip stretches that may help to increase hip health and flexibility.

A person should warm up before stretching the hip. Stretching and performing exercises, using controlled motions, should help to avoid further injury.

It may be necessary to see a doctor if hip tightness occurs frequently or persistently or pain occurs as well. A doctor will work to diagnose the cause and provide appropriate treatments.