Hip Flexor Stretches
Although most people know where their calf or bicep muscles are located, they would probably draw a blank if you asked them what their Hip Flexors are. The Hip Flexors are actually some of the strongest and most important muscle groups in our body. Every time you dance, walk up the stairs or ride a bike, your hip flexors are doing a lot of the movement.
Not surprisingly, this muscle group is located in the hips. Your femur, the largest bone in your body, connects to your hip bone in a ball and socket-type set up (much like your shoulders). The hip flexor muscles connect from your lower spine, down through your groin to the top of the femur bone. Their job is to move the femur in a flexion movement.
While extending a joint means stretching it to its straightest capacity, flexing, or flexion motion, occurs when a joint or body part is brought inwards toward another body part. If you flex your elbow joint, your arm is being brought in towards your body.
In the case of the hip flexors, they use their considerable muscle power to pull your knees up to your chest. Your hip flexors also control the motion of bending at the hips. However, the hip flexors control the movement, not the position. So if you are already sitting, your flexors are at rest.
As you can imagine, your flexors are vital to all sorts of movement: from everyday walking to high-intensity sports. Therefore, it’s critical to keep this major muscle group conditioned, toned, and injury-free to continue to be able to go about our daily lives unhindered by pain.
Some typical indicators of a hip flexor injury and/or tightness are:
- Discomfort and lack of mobility when moving;
- Tenderness and soreness in the upper leg;
- Bruising or swelling around the hips or thighs;
- Loss of strength in the front of the groin along with a tugging sensation;
- Clenching, cramping or muscle spasms in the hip or thighs;
- Reduced ability to kick, jump, or sprint;
- Consistent pain and/or discomfort in the upper leg area;
- Tightness or stiffness after sleeping or sitting for long periods.
Sadly, hip injuries are on the rise and hip replacement surgery is increasing in the United States. Like so many modern maladies, the causes of hip problems can be identified back to sedentary lifestyles and desk jobs. Sitting too much, day in, day out, causes the flexors to tighten up. Tight hip flexors can eventually cause lower back pain, hip pain, and injury, so it’s essential that we utilize proper movement to keep them in shape and our bodies injury-free.
But whether you engage in tough rugby matches on the weekends, or just work a desk job, it's important to warm up and flex these muscles a few times per week. The most beneficial of stretches are easy to perform on a mat with or without a roller and should only take you ten to fifteen minutes for a session. Stretching improves blood flow to the hip flexors muscles as well as to the rest of your pelvis area. Consistent conditioning of these vital muscles will also help to keep you pain-free throughout your daily routine. Check out some of the videos below and give them a try.