5 Hip Flexor Stretches!

The hip flexors are one of the most unique muscle groups in the human kinetic chain. When trained and cared for properly it can help to enhance powerful movements in various movement patterns. However, when it becomes dysfunctional, it can cause a whole slew of issues that can run up and down the kinetic chain. Here are a few things to keep in mind to enhance your knowledge of this muscle group and how to treat it if it takes a turn for the worst!

Location of the hip flexor:

                     

  • In order to learn how to use it, one must first understand the hip flexor anatomy. There are various muscles in the hip and trunk region that help to facilitate hip flexion, however, we will be focusing mostly on the following. The hip flexor muscle group is comprised of the psoas major/minor, iliacus, and rectus femoris. As it can be seen, this group attaches to the low back, hip girdle, and femur bone.

Hip flexor functions:

  • Flexion is the helps to bring one’s legs and trunk closer together as well as to bend the torso forward at the hip.
  • The psoas major/minor and the iliacus come together to form the iliopsoas which is the main facilitator AND strongest of the hip flexor group. This group is most important in standing, walking, and running.
  • The rectus femoris is one of the four quadricep muscles and it’s important because it is the only one of the four to cross the hip joint. This allows this muscle to not only flex the hip but extend the knee as well. 

Why women should stretch out their hip flexors (pathologies):

  •  Weak or increasingly tight hip flexors in females can result in:
  • Low back pain: as part of the iliopsoas attaches to the low back if it’s too tight from overtraining or prolonged and consistent sitting, it can pull on some of the lumbar vertebrae.
  • Hip flexor tendonitis: this is an inflammation of the tendon of any portion of the hip flexors which can result in pain in not only the back but in the hip or leg.

5 stretches with descriptions:

Pigeon stretch:

  • Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  • Bring your right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist.
  • Place your right ankle in front of your left hip.
  • Straighten your left leg behind you, making sure your left knee is straight and your toes are pointed.
  • Keep your hips square.
  • Gently lower yourself to the ground.
  • Stay in this position for up to 10 seconds.
  • Release the position by pushing on your hands, lifting your hips, and moving the legs back into your starting position on all fours.

Foam roller stretch: 

  • Lie face down, with your foam roller beneath and slightly below your right hip.
  • Place your left leg to the side with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Rest your forearms on the ground in front of you to take some of your body weight off of your hip. This will make the stretch less painful.
  • Stretch your right leg straight out behind you, with your toes pointed backward and the front of your foot flat against the ground
  • Slowly move backward and forward over the foam roller.
  • For an extra stretch, add some side-to-side movement as you roll.
  • Continue for up to 30 seconds. As you roll, identify any trigger points, or points that feel extra tight or painful. You can focus on those areas for about 10 seconds to relieve some of the tightness.

Kneeling hip flexor stretch: 

  • Kneel on your right knee.
  • Put your left foot on the floor with your left knee at a 90-degree angle
  • Drive your hip forward. Maintaining a straight back, lean your torso forward.
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 2 to 5 times with each leg, trying to increase your stretch each time.

Spiderman stretch: 

  • Begin in the push-up position.
  • Step forward with the left foot, bringing it to the outside of your left hand.
  • Stretch the hips forward.
  • Hold this position for two seconds, then return to start.
  • Repeat five times to complete one rep.

Butterfly stretch: 

    • Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you.
    • Bring the soles of your feet together, and then move your heels as close to your body as you can.
    • Lean forward with a straight back.
    • Push on your thighs with your elbows for a deeper stretch.
    • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

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