Hip flexors are the muscles that provide flexion at the hip joint allowing us to lift our legs when standing or lift our torso into a sit-up while in a laying position. The hip flexor muscles play a huge role in daily activity such as walking, running, squatting, sitting up and moving side to side. The iliopsoas is the strongest group of muscles in the hip flexors which connect the spine to the femur, and helps pull the thigh towards the torso or raise your knees to your chest. Stretching the iliopsoas is important to keep your body mobile and sitting for long periods of time cause this muscle to shorten which could lead to other imbalances. If left unstretched, shortened hip flexors affect the pelvis position, which affects the position and movement of the lower back.
Lack of flexibility in the hip flexors can cause many issues such as poor range of motion, shuffling of the feet while walking, pain, limping and even the inability to sit-up from a lying position. Hip flexors often get overlooked with exercise as the body has many other muscle groups to focus on. While the hip flexors can seem minuscule to add into an exercise routine, they are a very important muscles that support the abdomen, lower spine, pelvis and help move your legs.
Many of us that sit long periods of time or stay sedentary at work really could use daily hip flexor stretches and exercises to counterbalance the prolonged hip flexion of sitting for hours. Incorporating strength training, stretching and functional mobility work for your hip flexors is essential to keep mobile, have flexibility and better range of motion as we age.
Here are 5 great ways to stretch and strengthen your hip flexors:
Banded lateral leg lifts:
Great for strengthening your obliques, iliopsoas muscle, adductor muscles, hip flexors and thighs
Step 1: Begin in a standing position, feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed slightly out from parallel with a resistance band placed at your ankles
Step 2: If you feel unsturdy place your hand on a wall or pole then, transfer your weight to one leg and kick out to the side with the other leg, using the band as resistance
Step 3: Return to the starting position and repeat 10/15/20 reps per leg then switch sides and repeat. The goal each time is to increase your reps per leg and eventually gain strength to move up in resistance bands
Banded Standing Kickbacks:
Great for strengthening the lower back, glutes, hamstrings
Step 1: Begin in a standing position with a resistant band around your ankles. Holding your core tight, standing upright nice and tall, transfer your weight to one leg and raise the other leg behind you. Trying not to change your straight upright form or bend at the torso kick back with a straight leg. Note- Range of motion here isn’t much at first but the goal is to be able to move your leg back as far as you can as you continue repeating this exercise
Step 2: Return to the starting position and transfer your weight to the other leg while kicking back in small pulses. Reps 10/15/20 is the goal per leg, trying to improve as you go. Hold on to something if you must stabilize yourself for this movement
TRX Reverse lunge leg lift:
Great for stretching and strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, quads, soas and core
Step 1: While holding onto the TRX with both hands, move your leg backwards into a lunge. Get a good stretch here
Step 2: Bring your back leg from the lunge into a knee tuck trying to raise the knee into your chest as much as you can
Step 3: While in Step 2 form, use the TRX to help pull you and your knee to chest as upright as you can while maintaining your stable leg straight
Step 4: Alternate legs and repeat this movement 15-20 reps per leg
Lying Glute Bridge leg pulse:
Great for strengthening the glutes, thighs, iliopsoas, core
Step 1: In a lying position place your feet shoulder width apart. Place a resistance band around your thighs right above your knees.
Step 2: Stabilize your back with hands below your hips or at your neck. Lift your hips high off the ground and stay static in this position
Step 3: Plus your thighs in and out pushing against the resistance band as much as you can. Goal here is to increase reps from 10-20-30+
Swan Pose: Hip flexor stretch
Step 1: Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders
Step 2: Slowly bring one leg forward as you keep the other straight back and tuck the leg under your torso
Step 3: Lightly and slowly bring your body weight down towards the mat folding over your knee and hold for 30+ seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
Goal is to get as low to the floor as you can and work towards better flexibility in time.
At Outlaw FitCamp our team of trainers are ready to help you improve your flexibility, range of motion and improve your mobility.
Contact us today to get started.