The hip flexors are a set of muscles on both sides of your lower body. The movement of your lower body is dependent on these hip flexors. It includes the rectus femoris, psoas, and sartorius muscles. This set of muscles helps move our hips and lift the knees. Since it is such a vital part of the body that largely governs our movement, it is crucial to ensure its flexibility. A good hip flexor stretch will help you feel better and reduce pain in that region. The hip flexor stretches are beneficial if we add them to our daily workout session. If you practice yoga, various asanas can help you stretch your hip flexor muscles.
Suppose you are a dancer or a professional who requires flexibility in the body. In that case, the hip flexor is one of the most critical parts of the body that you should consider stretching. Even if you are not very active, you can still do a few stretching exercises daily. It will mobilise the lower part of the body. There are many cases where we feel our hips being stiff. In such situations, stretching can help remove tension from the muscle and provide relief. It is encouraged to do these stretches every day, irrespective of one’s age. It also has a long-term benefit and will provide better posture even when you get old. This study helps us understand the anatomy and function of hip flexors.
Benefits of Flexor Stretches
The importance of stretching the hip flexors can also be seen in the study by NCBI.
There are several benefits to practising hip flexor stretches. We have mentioned some of the benefits here. A few of the benefits are as follows:
Helps Improve Posture
The pelvic tilt of the body helps determine the posture of the body. Since the hip flexor muscles directly control the lower body, it has a significant role in your body posture. However, this pelvic tilt shifts in a particular direction due to excessive sitting or inclined standing for a long time. As a result, it forms a distorted posture and does not keep your body straight.
It is essential to perform flexor stretches to correct the pelvic tilt. It helps the pelvic region return to its original position and improves the body posture.
Stretching helps you loosen the muscles. The hip flexor muscles determine the movement of the lower body. Resting your hip flexors will keep the muscles loose and help improve flexibility in the pelvic area, hips, and upper thighs. The range of leg movement will increase. You will be able to note the changes in your flexibility.
The split performed by many dancers is only possible by stretching the flexor muscles. And anyone who has attained the required range of motion does a split without difficulty. All you need to do is practice your stretch every day.
Helps Improve Hip Mobility
The hips are required for a wide range of movements every day. Even if you are not an active person, you have to walk, or sometimes climb stairs. The hip flexor governs these movements. Stretching the hip flexor muscles helps ensure your hips stay healthy.
Helps Alleviate Pain
If you ever feel stiffness or soreness in your hip flexor, you can resolve it by stretching. Many times a muscle gets pulled due to some activity. In such cases stretching the region relieves the pain to a large extent. Practising hip flexor stretches will help you decrease the hip flexor strain and alleviate back and hip pain.
Keeps Your Lower Body Stronger Even After Ageing
As we age, our body becomes weak. Your body state in old age is a function of how you treated it while you were young. The stronger you make your body, the better it will remain as you age. Therefore, you must exercise every day and lead a healthy life so that the body stays strong. In addition, it will help you maintain good body posture and provide the strength to walk as you age.
The HealthifyMe Note
The hip flexor muscles are responsible for our locomotion ability. It helps our lower body and gives us freedom of movement. The more movement you can do with the lower body, the better stretches you can do, and the stronger it becomes.
Types of Flexor Stretches
There are various flexor stretches. We will discuss ten stretches in this article.
Easy At-Home Stretches
Here we have a few simple exercises you can practice on a flat surface at home. It is for those who are not very involved in daily activities. However, the basic at-home stretches are easy, and you can perform them with minimum effort. These are very basic and require no special equipment. Try to do easy-at-home stretches; once you have mastered these, you can move on to the more advanced stretches mentioned in the following list.
It is a straightforward exercise. Follow the below steps to carry out this exercise.
- Lie down on the floor with your back.
- Fold your legs so the knees are facing upwards.
- Keep your hands straight on the ground.
- Place your arms in a palm-down position near your hips.
- Gradually lift your hips with the help of your legs and take a little support from your palms.
- Once the hips are at their maximum position, slowly bring it back to the floor.
- Repeat this for ten counts.
Steps for Kneeling stretch are as follows:
- Come to a kneel-down position.
- Place your left knee on the floor.
- The right foot must be touching the floor ahead of the left knee.
- Ensure that the right knee makes a 90-degree angle and that your upper body is straight.
- Place your hands on your waist. It will help you balance.
- Do this on both sides; repeat for ten counts on each side.
Standing Lunge Stretch
This exercise is similar to the previous one. The only difference is that the knee should not touch the ground. The steps for the exercise are as follows:
- Stand straight by keeping your arms on your waist, as in the last stretch
- Put your right leg forward
- Bend the right knee so that it makes a 90-degree angle.
- Make sure to keep your left leg straight during this stretch.
- This stretch will also help you improve your balance.
- Repeat the stretch for ten counts on each side.
You can do this exercise even on your bed. It is a simple exercise to improve the side hip muscles. The steps are:
- Lie down on one side of the body.
- If you are lying on the left side, keep the forearm straight on the ground with the palm facing down.
- Keep your body straight, do not bend any part of the body.
- During this stretch, only your left arm and leg will touch the floor, and your head needs to be in the air.
- Fold the right knee.
- Grab the right foot with your right hand and give it a nice stretch for 5-10 seconds.
- Repeat this ten times on both sides.
If you are new to stretching, this might be a bit difficult for you. But this is also one of the best stretching exercises. In addition, you must practice this stretch every day. You can do it on any flat surface on a yoga mat.
The instructions are as follows:
- Sit straight with your legs stretched in front.
- Pull your left leg, so the foot comes to the middle part of your body
- Stretch the left knee towards the left side
- Simultaneously, do the same for the right leg.
- Make sure that both the feet’ sole gets pressed against each other.
- Now for the stretch, push both your knees towards the floor.
- The more you can push, the more flexible you get.
- The target is to touch both knees to the ground.
- Hold the maximum stretched position for 7 to 10 seconds.
- Repeat the stretch ten times.
Stretching Before Active Workouts
The above stretching routine is for those people who are very inactive in their daily life. This set of workout stretches is for more advanced athletes, who are generally physically active. You can gradually try these exercises even if you do not have a workout plan.
If you are an active person, you might already know about this exercise. It is widely practised in gyms and is a beneficial exercise. It not only improves the hip muscles but also helps improve the core muscles. Therefore, you can do it as a part of your daily cardio workout session.
The instructions you need to follow for the exercise are as follows.
- Lie down straight on the ground on your belly side.
- Place the palms parallel to your shoulders on the ground.
- Lift your body to stay parallel with the ground.
- And come up to your toes.
- It would help if you ensured that your elbows and knees were straight.
- Now bring your right knee towards your right elbow.
- Try to get the leg as close as possible, keeping your feet in the air.
- Bring back the right leg, with the toes on the floor.
- Do this for the left side as well.
- Repeat this for 15 counts.
You can perform this exercise in the standing position. We take our legs forward, bend down, and go back up in a simple lunge. Furthermore, we continue this for both sides. We must jump whenever we come back up for a jump lunge exercise.
Follow the below steps to properly carry out this exercise.
- Keep your palms on your waist. It helps you maintain balance.
- Take your right leg forward.
- Bend down to form a 90-degree angle on the right knee. The left leg also should pend to be parallel to the floor.
- After bending down, you need to push your body upwards while getting back up.
- Take a jump and swap your legs while in the air.
- Now repeat the same for the left side.
- Repeat this exercise for ten counts each.
Kneeling Side Kicks
The exercise will give the best outcome if you do it with bands. Bands provide resistance which makes you apply more effort to the stretch. If you have bands, it is best to use them. Although, you can also do this stretch without bands. Let us look at the procedure for the stretch.
- Lie down on your left side.
- Keeping your left palm and your left knee on the floor, raise your body.
- Keep your back straight
- Put your right hand on the back of your head.
- Keep your right leg straight.
- If you are using the band, place the band above your knee, tying both the legs together.
- Now push your right leg upwards, keeping it straight.
- Repeat this for 15 counts and then switch to the left side.
Bulgarian Split Squats
This stretch not only helps you strengthen your hip flexors but also provides stretch to the glutes and calves. For this exercise, you need a bench or chair almost at your knee length. Follow the following steps to complete this stretch.
- Position your body in front of the bench, keeping the bench at the back.
- Place your right foot on the bench.
- Join your palms together to maintain stability.
- Bend your left leg downwards until the left knee forms a 90-degree angle.
- You will notice the stretch happening in your right leg.
- Hold the bent position for 1-2 seconds and go back up.
- Repeat this for 15 counts, and then switch to the left side.
You might be familiar with this exercise if you are a dancer or an athlete. But if you are new, you might not have heard about it. The pose is an everyday stretch for ballet or contemporary dancers as they require a lot of flexibility. If you are new to this, follow these steps slowly. If you are confused, working with a certified trainer is best.
The steps to be followed are:
- Place your palms on the ground and form the downward-facing dog position.
- From here, you need to pull your right leg forward.
- As you do so, turn your leg so that your right knee comes below the right elbow and your right foot below the left elbow.
- Now you need to bring down your left leg slowly towards a side.
- Keep the foot of the left leg pointed.
- Gradually place your hips on the ground.
- Suppose you are not able to place your hips on the ground completely. In that case, you can stay in your most stretched position.
- Stay at the position for 5 seconds and then get back up.
- Repeat the same for the left leg.
Now you have the required knowledge about hip flexors. The hip flexor muscle includes the rectus femoris, psoas, and sartorius muscles. This set of muscles helps move our hips and lift the knees. Because it is such a vital part of the body that governs a large amount of motion, it is essential to stretch the area regularly. A good hip flexor stretch will help you feel better and reduce pain in that region.
We talked about the benefits of hip flexor stretches. These include improving body posture, increasing flexibility, improving hip mobility, reducing pain due to muscle pull or nerve pull, and keeping the lower body more mobile even after ageing. With all these factors, it becomes evident that practising hip flexor stretches are very important. It is essential to build stamina and endurance as a beginner. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you consult a trainer.