The Seven Best Hip Flexor Moves
Chances are, you’ve heard of the term ‘hip flexors’; they’re an area of the body that is often overlooked, especially when working out or stretching, yet have been the source of pain and anguish for many, regardless of age. The hips, and more specifically the hip flexors, are fundamental to your body’s strength and health, not to mention pretty troublesome if not look after properly.
What are Hip Flexors?
As the name suggests, this muscle group help to flex the hip and take responsibility for a lot of the mobility in your hips to your lower back and legs because they attach to the lumbar spine, pelvis and femur.
Their attachment on the spine makes them crucial to the development of the core muscles and spinal stabilisers; if they’re not looked after correctly, you’ll find yourself in a whole world of discomfort from this complex area.
Made up of three muscles, the Ilopsoas, Sartorius and Rectus Femoris, the hip flexors are a pretty big deal, and it’s vital that you look after them.
In short, if your hip flexors are overdeveloped, tight, stiff or short, it’s likely you suffer from lower back pain and hip pain, along with restricted movement in the hips, legs and lower back. This can be brought on by a multitude of reasons – some we will explore in this post…
What Do the Hip Flexors Do?
Before we begin look at the world of discomfort they can cause, let’s take a look at exactly what the hip flexors do…
Their main function is to give the hip joints full range in movement; they are essentially active with every step we take. Where the hip flexors connect your legs to your lower body and they’re also vital in allowing your legs to move with your torso.
These multi-functional muscles also help stabilise your hips and lower body, which keeps your pelvis, lumbar spine and knees strong.
If you sit at a desk all day, chances are you’ve got short and tight hip flexors, as sitting for prolonged periods of time can weaken the hip flexors. It’s important to spend some time strengthening them and you could add power to your workouts, increase flexibility and reduce back pain.
It’s important to improve mobility in this area, so now you’ve got a good understanding of what the hip flexors are and what they do, you now need a range of movements to really open up the hip flexors.
The Best Exercises for Hip Flexors
So if your hips are tight and you’re worried that the damage can’t be undone and you’re left with hips that feel and act years older than you do, fear not, all is not lost. We have plenty of helpful stretches and exercises for you to do that will slowly, but surely make a big difference to your hip health.
Where to Begin
The first step to building better hip flexors is to spend some uncomfortable (and painful) time foam rolling.
Think a foam roller is something you put in your hair? Then you could be missing out on one of the most effective ways to release muscle tension.
There are a variety of foam rollers available so your best bet is to get hold of a few different types as some work better in certain areas than others.
Dynamic stretching (stretching while in motion), is the most efficient way to lengthen and strengthen the hip flexor muscles so here are a few to add into your stretching routine:
Top 7 Hip Flexor Stretches and Exercises
Split Squat Stretch
Put one leg in front of the other keeping your knee and ankles inline, and place your other foot on a bench behind you. Keep your back straight and shoulders back and slowly lower into the bent, raised leg to feel the stretch in the front of your hips. Hold for approximately 20 seconds and repeat for both sides.
Side Lateral Stretch
Take a kneeling position, make sure your knees and ankles are in line and not over your feet – so your bent knee is at a 90-degree angle. Take your opposite arm and stretch up and over your head leaning into the stretch. Hold for 20 seconds or so, and repeat.
Come on to all fours and slowly take one leg back so it’s extended behind you. Bring your other leg in front of you and put it in a 45-degree position down on the floor. Sink into the hips to feel the stretch. Repeat on both sides.
Simply pop on all fours with your knees extended wider than shoulder width. You should feel this stretch in your hips but as it eases sink more into the stretch. Hold for a good few minutes to reap the benefit of this stretch.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Bend one knee in front of you at a 90-degree angle and slightly extend your other bent leg behind you. This is an exaggerated kneeling position, more akin to a lunge, and you should feel this stretch working your hip flexor.
Spider Man Stretch
This dynamic stretch is great for stretching out the hip flexors. Simply take a lunge position then twist your torso into your knee then rotate through the upper back and reach up to the ceiling with the same side as your forward leg. Hold for 20 seconds or so and repeat.
Hip Flexor Mobilisation
Grab a bar bell and slowly roll over the top of your quads into your hips , this will slowly loosen up tight muscles.
We’d recommend making hip mobility and flexibility a priority in your stretch sessions or as part of your general rehabilitation as you’ll really benefit, including less back pain – and who doesn’t want that?
As they say, it’s all in the hip action.
Get in Touch
If you want more information on the hip flexors or think you’ve damaged yours and would benefit from some treatment, get in touch today and one of our friendly team will happily help.