Are You Stretching Your Hip Flexors Correctly?
Lets Talk About the Hip Flexors
We often get questioned on how to stretch out tight Hip Flexors and sore muscles to help relieve pain. To best stretch this muscle group, there is a degree of isolation that has to occur, or else you could place undue stress on the lumbar spine or the front of the hip joint. To better understand how to stretch these muscles, we should take a look at where they are located and how they function.
There are many muscles that flex the hip but there are two primary muscles that make up the hip flexor group – the Psoas Major, and the Iliacus. If you take a peek at the picture, you might notice the Psoas attaches all the way up your lumbar spine. The Iliacus on the other hand attaches along the inside of your pelvis. Both muscles cross the hip joint and attach on the femur, resulting in the action to march/lift the leg (the action of hip flexion).
Properly Stretching the Hip Flexors
Now that you know where these muscles are located, lets learn how to properly stretch them! The biggest mistake we see is the hip hyperextends, low back hyperextends, and really the overall tension in the front of the hip is lost. Our focus should really be placed more on controlling the pelvis, this can be very hard to learn at first!
Let’s Go Step By Step Through This.
- Kneel on one knee and place hands on the top of your pelvis – fingertips on the pointy bone on the front of your hips, thumb on the back of your hips, palm resting on the shelf of your pelvis.
- Now, envision your pelvis is a giant pitcher of margaritas (oh yeah!) and your hands gripping your pelvis are just like your hands are around the rim of the pitcher. You want to tip your pelvis/the pitcher so margaritas will spill BACKWARD, or your thumbs will be lower than your fingertips – this is a posterior pelvic tilt.
- Keep that posterior pelvic tilt, keep a tall posture, squeeze that butt cheek of the leg you are kneeling on, and lean forward 1-3 inches without letting these tension points go.
- For added stretch, you can reach the arm on the same side of the leg overhead – but don’t lose that tilt or butt cheek squeeze!
For stretches, I like to hold 20-30 seconds while taking deep full breathes, perform this 2-3 times each side, or whatever feels best!
Stretch often and get support from your Physical Therapist or Health Team to learn the best approach for your body’s recovery.
Ashley Henriques, DPT
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