Workout: Hip Flexor Mania
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Become Pain Free with Hip Flexor Stretches – The Best Kept Secret
Your hip flexors are a group of muscles that flex your upper thigh bone (femur) just below your hipbones, so why are your hip flexors important to stretch? Your hip flexors are the reason you can lift your knees, bend at the waist, walk and run. If your hip flexors are tight, you are more likely to develop pain in your hips, your lower back and other regions.
If you are someone who works in any job that involves prolonged sitting or prolonged standing, your hip flexors could be in trouble. Much like someone recovering after breaking their leg, their mobility in their leg will not be the same immediately afterwards and they could need months of stretching to achieve full leg mobility again. The same thing can happen with your hip flexors when you are constantly in the same position (lack of mobility) and the outcome can be a bit scary and have long-term health effects.
According to Dr. Reed Ferber, the director of the University of Calgary’s Running Injury Clinic, if you’ve experienced pain in your knees, ankles or feet (generally with runners) and thought “I need to wear a brace” the source of your pain may be higher than you think. You can buy a knee brace or ankle brace, but what if the pain continues? In some cases the source of your pain has nothing to do with your knees or ankles at all and it’s actually your hips causing the problem, even if you have never experienced hip pain before. Your hip flexors are sneaky in that way, but don’t worry, this pain can go away.
In a study executed by Dr. Ferber, he examined 284 patients who complained of leg pain (not hip pain). 93% of these patients were found to have weak hip muscles. The group began performing various hip flexor exercises and after performing these hip flexor stretches regularly for only 6 weeks, 90% said they were pain free.
Here is how to perform the hip flexor stretch:
By performing easy hip flexor stretches at home, we can prevent back, hip, knee, ankle and foot problems by keeping our hip flexors strong. Besides fighting off pain in our body, there are several additional benefits for keeping your hip flexors in tip-top shape, and if preventing pain or future injuries isn’t enough of a reason to make you want to do these stretches, here’s a few more:
Health Benefits of Hip Flexor Stretches: Why Hip Flexor Stretches are a Great Exercise
- Hip flexor stretches and most stretches in general will help your muscles relax. If your muscles are relaxed, it can help alleviate stress (Exercise equals less stress).
- Hip flexor stretches can increase your level of flexibility.
- Hip flexor stretches can increase your range of motion in your joints, ultimately helping your balance and posture. This means you are less likely to fall, and if you are prone to falling, you can’t afford not to do this home workout.
- Hip flexor stretches can increase your circulation so in the event you are ever injured, your recovery time after the injury is likely to decrease (Recover faster!)
In our “Top 10 Home Workout Moves” we demonstrated for you how to perform an easy hip flexor stretch. If you have never stretched your hip flexors out before, please start with this exercise to build your strength. For those of you already stretching your hip flexors regularly, you may also want to try these additional hip flexor stretches:
Hip Flexor & Glute Stretch #1: Just like in our demonstration, all you need to do is get down on your knees and step forward with your left foot, bending your left knee at a 90 degree angle. With your arms at your side, reach behind yourself with your right hand and grasp your right foot. Slowly lift the foot toward your glutes as far as you can comfortably pull. While holding this stretch, be sure to keep your torso upright. You can maintain your balance by keeping your left hand on your left leg if needed. After holding your leg for about 20 seconds, change legs and repeat.
Hip Flexor & Glute Stretch #2: Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and your feet relaxed and straight in front of you. Bend your right leg at the knee and slowly lift it toward your chest until your knee is facing the ceiling. Your left leg should stay relaxed on the ground. Using both hands, reach behind your right leg and gently pull your leg toward you, holding the position. Pull as far as you can comfortably go. You should feel a stretch, not discomfort. Try to hold your leg in position for about 20 seconds before relaxing your right leg to the ground and lifting your left knee to your chest.
Hip Flexor Side Stretch: Just like in our demonstration, all you need to do is get down on your knees and step forward with one foot, bending your knee at a 90 degree angle, and gently push forward. With your arms at your side, lift your right arm overhead and stretch to your left side. Hold the stretch for about 20 seconds and then stretch your other side before switching legs.
Hip Flexor Hip Swing: Lie on your side with your legs slightly bent and support your head by propping yourself on your elbow. Lift your top leg (leg closest to the ceiling, not the ground) until it’s at hip height. With your leg air-born and your other leg remaining slightly bent on the ground, gently swing your leg in front of yourself, keeping your toes pointed. Swing forward as far as you can comfortably move without moving your hips or upper body. Hold this position for a few seconds and then slowly swing your leg behind yourself, again careful not to move your hips or upper body. Keep your glutes flexed during this exercise if you can.
If you lose your balance or feel wobbly in our basic hip flexor stretch or in any of the steps above, it could be an indication your hip flexors are weak. With these extra exercises and the knowledge of how beneficial these easy home workouts are in keeping us mobile and pain free, we hope you will add them to your daily home workout if you haven’t already. Realistically, as we age, can we really afford to skip out on these great exercises? The answer is no!