Your hip flexors allow you to perform lower body actions such as walking, running, bending, kicking, and swiveling your hips. Tight hip flexors can result in postural issues, reduction in your range of motion, and pain. There are two main ways to stretch your hip flexors - exercises and stretches. Let’s look at some examples of each.
Our favorite exercise for working the hip flexors is high knees. The benefits of high knees are that they increase flexibility and strength in the hip flexors and provide cardiovascular conditioning.
Stand straight. Pull your left knee up towards the ceiling, then immediately when it touches the floor again, pull the right knee up, and repeat quickly. It is just like jogging on the spot, except you are aiming to get your knees as high as you can. Perform the exercise for 60 seconds, then take a 30-second break. Repeat this for 3-6 cycles.
Mountain climbers also strengthen the hip flexors and provide many of the benefits of high knees.
Start in a high plank position. Pull your left knee as high up toward your chest as you can. Quickly swap legs – as you release the left leg back to the starting position, you replace it with the right. It is like running on the spot while you are in high plank with your hands planted on the floor. Continue for 60 seconds, then take a 30-second break. Repeat this for 3-6 cycles.
One of the best hip flexor stretches is a kneeling lunge. It allows you to stretch deep muscles in a controlled way.
Place your left knee on the floor and your right foot on the ground, with your right knee at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands on your right knee and gently move your hips forward so that you feel a stretch in your left hip. Move the right foot forward if you need to, so that your knee can stay in line with your ankle. Once you have reached a point of slight discomfort, stop and hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds. You shouldn’t feel any pain. If you do, back off the stretch a little until it eases. Repeat on the opposite side, and perform the exercise three times.
If the kneeling lunge feels too strong for you, try gentler hip flexor stretches to work into the tightness gradually. A great example is a supine hip flexor stretch.
Lay on your back with your legs out straight and your arms by your side. Bring your left knee to your chest while keeping the right leg on the floor. Clasp your hands around your left knee and gently pull your knee into your body and slightly over to the left, towards your left ribs. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the right side. Perform three rounds.
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