Stretching the hip flexor is important: it performs essential functions in every movement. Unfortunately, it is neglected in many workouts. Discover how to stretch this important muscle and also prevent back pain.
The hip flexor is an anterior hip muscle. It originates at the back of the lumbar spine and then runs across the pelvis to the inside of the thigh. Without it, we would not be able to pull our leg up or, conversely, move our torso toward our knee. The hip flexor allows us to swing our legs back and forth and is therefore essential for all walking and running movements.
In childhood, we usually have a very long hip flexor. As a result, we are much more agile as children and can “twist” in many different ways. As we get older, we spend more and more time at a desk. Due to the lack of movement, the hip flexor shortens more and more.
The result is poor posture, which can lead to lumbar strain and lower back pain. To counteract this development, make sure you get enough exercise in your daily life. In addition, you can keep your hips flexible or even increase their mobility by stretching your hip flexors several times a week.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when stretching your hip flexors to avoid overuse or misuse of the muscles.
- Warm up the muscles before you start stretching.
Perform these exercises slowly, in a controlled and clean manner. Avoid jerky movements.
- Breathe deeply and evenly. If you want to intensify the stretch, go deeper into the posture when you exhale.
- Go only so far that you feel a slight pull in the hip area. If a muscle hurts, you are already stretching it too much.
- You can stretch dynamically or statically. When stretching your hip flexor dynamically, you rock back and forth slightly in the respective posture. This means that the muscle is alternately stretched and released.
- When stretching your hip flexor statically, you hold an exercise for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Which variation you choose depends on your individual conditions and needs. Dynamic stretching is a good warm-up before sports, while static stretching is best done after a sports session.
1- Stretching the hip flexor with lunge
One of the classic stretches for the hips and legs is the lunge. You can also use it to stretch your hip flexors.
- Your front leg is bent. The angle between the calf and thigh should be about 90 degrees. If the angle is too acute, your foot is too far back. This puts a lot of stress on your knee. You should avoid this.
- The back of your knee and calf are on the ground. The back of your foot rests on the floor.
- Your upper body is upright. Make sure your back is straight.
- Inhale and exhale deeply. With each exhalation you can move a little further into the stretch.
2- Lunge variation with twisted upper body
This slightly more complex exercise will stretch your hip flexors even more. By twisting your upper body, you also stretch your back muscles.
- First come into a lunge. This time lift your back leg so that your knee is in the air. Only your toes touch the ground.
- Your front leg should be bent back at a right angle.
- You may tend to put most of your weight on your front leg. To avoid this, you should also actively contract your back leg.
- Your upper body is initially straight. Your gaze is forward. If the following movement is still too difficult or painful, you can stay in this position.
- If your right leg is in front, place your left hand on the floor. If your left leg is in front, use your right hand accordingly.
- Turn your torso to the right and extend your right arm vertically upwards. If possible, turn your head to the right so that your eyes follow the outstretched hand.
- Hold the exercise for a minimum of 15 seconds and then switch to the other side.
3- Stretch hip flexors with lying down
You can also stretch your hip flexors in bed, for example, right after you wake up or before you go to sleep. This is a great way to do something good for your hips without a lot of effort.
- Lie on your back. Pull one leg toward your torso. Keep the other leg flat on the floor.
- Grasp the bent leg with your hands and pull it firmly upward toward your chest. You should feel a slight pull at the hip.
- Make sure you do not fall into a hollow back position.
- Hold the exercise for 15 to 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.
Keep reading: 7 Simple adductor stretches and flexibility exercises