June 25, 2024

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How to stretch your hip flexors and why they’re important for your health

How to stretch your hip flexors and why they’re important for your health

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If you’ve ever run, jumped, or been told you have good posture, you credit your hip flexors. On the other hand, problems with muscle pain and immobility are also often related to problems within this group of muscles – problems that can usually be avoided with proven strength and toning exercises and stretching techniques.

“Stretching your hip flexors can help prevent and relieve muscle pain,” says Lauren Fishman, MD, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Columbia University. It’s important to use proper form when stretching these muscles, otherwise you could end up doing more harm than good.

What are the hip muscles?

The hip flexor muscle group consists of five muscles in the front of the thigh and pelvis area. These muscles help with hip and leg movements and also “play an important role in both core strength and hip stability,” says Trevor Delaney, PT, DPT, a certified spine practitioner and director of the physical therapy program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. center.

These five muscles include the iliopsoas, metatarsus, psoas, rectus femoris, and sartorius — each playing different roles that include strength, balance, and movement. In fact, without these hip flexor muscles, you wouldn’t be able to lift your knees toward your chest, bend your body forward at the hips, or move around easily. “You use these muscles every time you walk,” says Wanda Evans, a physical therapist with the American Physical Therapy Association.

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What are the benefits of hip extension?

Taking care of your hip flexor muscles includes avoiding a sedentary lifestyle and performing strength exercises such as leg raises, squats, lunges, or deadlifts. Participating in any exercise or sport that uses your leg and thigh muscles can also help. It is also important to avoid unrestricted movements or activities that can pull or tear your hip flexors. These movements can include kicking, sprinting, or suddenly changing direction while running Mount Sinai.

Delaney says strained or tight hip muscles can cause complications like “poor posture that leads to lower back pain or neck pain.” In addition to potential hip problems such as “hip impingement, hip flexor tendonitis, or degenerative changes in the hip joint.”

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Muscle injuries in this area and tight hip flexors can often be avoided with targeted stretching exercises. “Making sure you keep this group of muscles properly stretched can help avoid all of these conditions,” Delaney says. Stretching your hip flexors can also improve movement and function. “Stretching these muscles will help increase height, loosen joints, and increase range of motion,” says Evans.

How to stretch your hip muscles:

Various stretching exercises are known to target and benefit the hip muscles. Some of the most popular ones recommended by experts include:

  • Lie on the floor on your left side with your left leg extended while you gently bend your right leg at the knee behind your back until you can brace the top of your ankle with your right hand. Maintain this position for a moment before switching to the opposite side and leg.
  • Kneel on the floor with both knees before raising your left leg in front of you at a 90 degree angle while placing that foot flat on the floor so that it is kneeling on your right knee alone. Keep that knee down and extend that foot straight back while shifting your upper body weight forward slightly (keeping your back straight!) until you feel a stretch across the front of your thigh and right thigh. Then switch legs and repeat the exercise on the other knee.
  • Lie on your back on the edge of a bed or other elevated surface while hanging one leg over the edge and bending your other leg toward you while gently reaching behind that knee to pull that leg toward your chest. After holding this position for a moment, rotate your direction on the bed to repeat the stretch with the other leg.
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While performing these and other hip flexor stretches, it is important to “keep it as is.” Comfortable stretch “Without forcing any movement,” Delaney advises. And if traditional hip flexors aren’t for you, Fishman says some yoga poses like bridge pose or camel pose can also be effective in stretching these muscles. “Just be careful not to arch your back, but instead use your glutes and hamstrings.”

It’s also important to remember that different ages and body types have different ranges of motion and flexibility, so some hip extension exercises may need to be customized on a case-by-case basis. “Discuss with your physical therapist if you experience pain or swelling in any of these muscles before stretching,” Evans advises. “I recommend that you consult with a physical therapist to discuss an individualized program to stretch these muscles.”