Our hips are literally powerhouses when it comes to our movement. The muscles that work at our hips are responsible for lower body movement as well as maintaining an optimal standing position and excellent posture.
Action at the hip consists of flexing and extending the leg and abduction or bringing the leg out to the side. When you climb stairs, squat, walk, stand, and participate in most physical activities and sports, your hips are hard at work.
Many of us experience tight hips, which typically means that our hip flexors are tight. This can be quite painful and is felt in your upper groin area and the upper thigh.
- One of the leading causes for tight hip flexors is sitting too much; while seated, our hip muscles are flexed and can become short and tight.
- Your upper thigh may feel tender; you may experience muscle spasms, tightness, stiffness, and even cramping.
- Weak hip flexor muscles are also a contributing factor to pain in this region.
Many of us are just prone to having tight hips. In addition to the pain and discomfort associated with tight hips, there is a higher risk of an injury because these tissues cannot move as they are designed.
Keeping our hip flexors long is key to performance and productivity, and with time spent on stretching and massage, getting our hip flexors back to an optimal state is well worth your time.
Here are five of my favorite hip flexor stretches:
You might recognize this stretch from your yoga class.
- Start on your hands and knees, then bring one knee forward and position it behind your wrist, with your ankle in front of your hip.
- Extend your other leg straight out behind you, with a straight knee and pointed toes.
- Maintain square hips (both hips are straight and directed forward).
- Slowly and gently lower your upper body and hips down to the floor, and hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat this positioning on your other side.
This is a great stretch to include in your micro-break while working at a desk.
- While seated on the floor, bring the soles of your feet together while gently pulling your heels in toward your bottom and holding your ankles.
- Lean forward slightly, and push down on your upper legs with your forearms.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, and focus on deep breathing.
This is a fantastic chair-based stretch.
- Sit tall and bring one ankle up onto your leg, just behind the knee.
- Hold your lower leg with both hands and lower your upper body until you feel a stretch.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch to the other leg.
- Incorporate deep breathing while performing this stretch for added relaxation and mental clarity.
This is an excellent option if your balance is too poor for standing stretches or if knee issues prevent you from performing kneeling stretches.
- Simply lie on your back comfortably on the edge of your bed.
- Carefully bring one leg over the edge, and let it hang down, resting your leg on the floor if you can.
- Then, bring the knee of the other leg in toward your chest.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch to your other leg.
- This is another excellent option if you have knee or balance issues, as you will be lying on the floor and on your side.
- Hold your top leg’s ankle, bend the knee, and then pull your upper leg back; try to bring your heel toward your bottom.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, then roll over and repeat the stretch on your other side.
Proper, practical strength training of the muscles acting at the hip, followed by thorough stretching and release of these muscles, is essential in avoiding hip flexor issues.
Consider the value of resistance training that includes functional exercises through the hip’s complete range of motion and in all movement planes.
Follow exercise and activity with thorough stretching and self-massage. Massage can target those deep tissues, including myofascial tissues, and improve function and circulation while also reducing pain and inflammation.
With proper care, you can avoid hip issues that can sideline you from both work and play.