Have you ever had tightness in the front of your hip? Stiffness in your lower back? Pain with running? Then maybe you need to relieve some tension by stretching your hip flexors.
What are hip flexors?
Your hip flexors refer to the group of muscles that attach over the front of the hip and are responsible for bringing your knees closer to your stomach. They also help to stabilise your spine. Our hip flexors play a large roll in tasks like walking, sprinting, and kicking a ball.
These muscles become stiff particularly with overuse or prolonged sitting. Given their proximity on the hip and spine, if they become tight, they cause our pelvis to be more rotated forward (anterior tilted). When this occurs, it places a pull on our back and holds our lower back in a more arched position (lordosis). Now don’t get me wrong, one posture is neither good nor bad. However, if this posture is causing us the issue then its something that needs to be addressed.
One great way to address this is to stretch the hip flexors. Now if you are suffering from pain, we recommend being assessed first to ensure stretching the hip flexors is appropriate for you. Throughout the whole stretch we should always feel a mild- moderate stretch. So it is important to note that it should not be painful.
How often should I stretch my hip flexors?
Mobility exercises are best done a few times throughout your day. This ensures that you are always keeping mobile. Movement is key!
What causes tight hip flexors?
Stiffness in hip flexors can be caused by prolonged sitting whether that be long commutes, long days in the office, or sitting through your son’s footy game. I mean – we have to work, right? It’s how we make a living.
But let’s face it – it’s 2021! In this modern day in age, there are a fair few professions around that require long days behind a desk or better yet, working from home! If you’re working from home, there’s even a good chance you’ll end up eating your lunch behind your desk, we’ve all been there.
Sidenote: Always keep MOVING! Movement is the best thing you can do for your body. When your sitting through those long work days, hop up and move every 30 minutes if you can.
Outside of sitting for long hours, another way you may experience tight hip flexors would be if you’re over training. Never fear, we’re here to help bring some relief to those tight hip flexors!
Here’s how to Release Your Hip Flexors:
1. Kneeling – Release Your Hip Flexors
Now this one would have to be the most common way to release your hip flexors. It involves kneeling into the stretch as below and pushing your hips forward. You should feel a mild stretch at the front of your hip and down your thigh. One cue we like to use is to imagine you have a tail and you’re trying to tuck it between your legs. This causes the pelvis to tilt the opposite way and adds an extra stretch. Avoid leaning forward at the torso, the stretch can be boring however if we lean on our front leg, we are taking away the effectiveness of the stretch.
2. Standing – Release Your Hip Flexors
It is not easy to drop down and kneel to stretch at work. If this is the case, then this stretch may be more appropriate for you. All you need is a chair and some form of balance. Place your foot up onto the chair and push your hips forward. Simple as that. Make sure you aren’t arching your lower back here because this will focus the stretch away from the hip flexors and towards the back. Play around with the distance from the chair to alter the stretch as required.
3. Powerband Overpressure – Release Your Hip Flexors
Now I would not recommend starting with this one but rather treat it as a progression. If the other stretches are not quite hitting the spot and you have access to a power band, then you could look at giving this one a try.
Grab your hip flexor band and let’s get stretching!
This involves the exact same position as our first option with the introduction of a band to provide an increased “pull”. Wrap the band around your back leg. Get into the position and hold. To add more pressure either increase the stretch on the band or trial a firmer one. Start gently and gradually build.
Although this may be more of a progression exercise, hip flexor exercises with bands are sure to provide both stretch and strength.
There you have it, 3 effective ways to release those hip flexors.
Start with small dosages before gradually building to 60 seconds.
Now, it’s always important to remember there is never a one size fits all approach. Muscles will become tight for various reasons, it is critical to address the underlying factors as to why they are becoming stiff in the first place.
Prevention is better than cure.
Regardless, give these variations a try and see what works best for you!