Hip flexor strains are very common with runners who run long distances and those who run hills. Being the primary muscle group that drive the leg forward with each stride, it’s no wonder this muscle group gets fatigued and tight after long and hard runs. Hip flexor stretching alleviates the tightness and strain, especially after long periods of sitting and inactivity after a long run. However we find that not everyone does them correctly, and may even worsen the hip injury or injure their back while doing them.
So how do we properly stretch our hip flexors?
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1) Get down on one knee and kneel on the affected limb. Bring the other leg forward so the front knee is bent 90 degrees.
2) Before you lean forward and stretch, do a posterior pelvic tilt. This means flattening out your lower back curve by engaging your abdominals. (If you have trouble with this, imagine tucking your tailbone under like a scared dog!)
3) Now hold that pelvic tilt as you bend the front knee even deeper. Begin to feel a stretch the front of your kneeling hip, where you hip flexors are.
4) Sustain a stretch of moderate intensity for about 30 seconds.
(To maximize the stretch even more, take the arm on the same as the knee that is touching the floor and arc it over your head, sidebending our waist as you go. Move slowly and stop when you feel a moderate stretch.)
What to avoid
Avoid arching your back – this not only minimizes the effectiveness of the stretch (causing you to need to bend your knee even more) but it also could strain your back muscles. Don’t give yourself a back spasm, do a pelvic tilt first!
How often to do it
Hip flexor stretching is good to do after spending prolonged time with your hips flexed (or flexing) – this includes prolonged sitting, prolonged running. Do the stretch for 30 seconds, twice on each leg.
By Alice Holland, DPT.
Alice’s Google + page.
Doctor of Physical Therapy, Director at Stride Strong Physical Therapy