Limited range of motion in the hips and spine are common, especially for older adults… so when a single stretch helps unlock tightness in both these areas, then it’s definitely worth taking note of.
Cue… the scorpion stretch.
This scary sounding stretch isn’t so scary… and is fact, beginner-friendly and a great way to combat a sedentary lifestyle.
Although the movement is save for beginners, there are some things to think about to ensure you perform the stretch properly, which we discuss in this exercise guide. We also outline the muscles worked, benefits and other stretches that pair nicely with the scorpion stretch to create an effective hip and back routine.
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What is the Scorpion Stretch?
The scorpion stretch is a prone exercise (lying face down) that helps to open up the hips and lower back. Each leg is raised up, followed by a spinal rotation to move the leg across the body, helping to stretch out the back and thereby creating the appearance of a “scorpion” tail.
As well as a fantastic back and hip stretch, it is also a good indicator of current mobility and flexibility in these areas. Over time it will become very evident of how your mobility is improving and allowing you to move more freely through the full range of motion in the hips and lower back.
We find it’s a great stretch to include in any sort of warm-up before a workout too, especially one that involves squatting or hinging at the hips.
Improving Mobility and Flexibility
Sedentary lifestyles, running, workouts… they can all create compression and tension in joints. Stretches like scorpion stretch help to alleviate this compression and tension, helping to improve the mobility and flexibility in these areas, contributing to better overall movement and health.
How to do the Scorpion Stretch
To do the Scorpion Stretch:
- Lie flat on the ground on your stomach, face down, legs out straight, toes pointed and arms at 90° to your body (creating a “T” shape).
- Lift your left leg to 45°.
- Bend at the knee and bring the leg over the right leg.
- Tap the ground with your toes (if you can).
- Return your left leg to its starting position.
- Repeat on the other side, using your right leg.
Coach’s Tip – The aim of this stretch is to only go as far as is comfortable. Don’t overstretch and push yourself to touch the ground with your toes if your body is telling you to stop. Go as far as possible and leave it at that. Over time, you should see improvement in how far you can go.
Static Vs Dynamic Scorpion Stretch
The scorpion stretch can be performed as both a static and dynamic stretch. We would tend to recommend doing it as a dynamic stretch, to help improve mobility as well as flexibility. Doing between 5-10 repetitions on each side and holding the pose for 2-3 seconds is going to really help gain the benefits from this movement.
The scorpion stretch will work a number of key muscle areas, including the hip flexors (front), hip abductors (side) the glutes (gluteus maximus), the obliques (side of torso), the multifidus (lower back) as well as the erector spinae (mid-back).
The movement will also engage the quads to assist with the knee extension and also help stretch out the shoulders (rear delts) too.
Benefits of Scorpion Stretch
Reduces Lower Back Pain
By performing the scorpion stretch, the hip flexors, glutes and abs are allowed to stretch in a safe and controlled manner. This should counteract tension and tightness in the lower back and assist with movements across the hip area.
When these muscles are tight, they limit both upper and lower body movements.
Increases Hip Flexibility
Because this exercise stretches the hip flexors, this should loosen any tightness in the hips and therefore increase flexibility and mobility in this area.
Provides Better Leg Activation
The gentle extension of the legs combined with the opening up of the hip, provides an opportunity to strengthen key muscles in the abdomen and hip areas.
Allows Flexibility in Workouts
As no equipment is needed to perform the scorpion stretch, it’s easy to include it in any warm-up or cool-down exercise programme. This stretch exercise is aimed at all levels of ability and progress can be achieved systematically.
Exercises that go well with Scorpion Stretch
If you want a quick and effective hip and back stretching routine, try pairing scorpion stretch with movements like reclining pigeon pose, thread the needle, prone cobra push ups, samson stretch and psoas marches.
Things to Consider
As with any stretch exercise, it is important to be aware of performing the movements gently and in a controlled manner.
The key issue, therefore, is performing the movements too rapidly, thereby causing strain, tension or pain to hip, back or abdomen areas. When extending the leg movement across the body, it is essential not to extend the leg too suddenly and not put the muscles under pressure.
Remember when performing the scorpion stretch, there should be no tension felt in the upper leg, abdomen or lower back areas. If you feel any strain, tension or pain in these areas, then you should stop this exercise.
If you currently have any lower back pain, it’s probably better to give the scorpion stretch a miss and swap it with an easier movement that doesn’t include a spinal rotation.
Shoulder tightness or injury may also hinder the movement too. You’ll probably find supine (facing up) exercise are preferrable for chest and shoulder tightness.
The scorpion stretch is an effective way to build strength and flexibility in the hip and lower back areas. The stretching of several key muscle groups means that the upper leg, hip and lower back regions will be engaged and worked in systematic manner.
This helps improve the movement around the hip and lower back, supporting better everyday activities and athletic performance.
For best results, we would use the dynamic scorpion stretch to target improvements in mobility, and not just flexibility.
It isn’t an easy stretch though, and if you have tight hips and back, you may find your range of motion is quite small to begin with.
Over time, try and increase the range of motion (how close you get to the floor) during the stretch.