Lucky for us, there are tons of different ways to stretch hip flexors. We’ve put together a broad selection of some of the most popular tight hip flexor stretches below. Some of these stretches may work better for you than others, and there’s also many more hip flexor stretches you can try beyond these. So, experiment with all different kinds of stretches and decide which ones are best for your body.
The tensor fascia latae originates from the front of the hip and inserts into a long fibrous band called the iliotibial tract on the outside of the thigh. This muscle supports hip flexion, leg rotation and outward movement of the thigh. Tensor fasciae latae syndrome, also known as iliotibial band syndrome, is an inflammatory condition that most commonly develops in distance runners. Inflammation arises when the muscle and band repetitively rub against the outer head of the thighbone, frequently causing a painful snapping sensation in the hip. Treatment typically involves anti-inflammatory medication and hip-strengthening and range-of-motion exercises. Good running shoes can help prevent tensor fasciae latae syndrome by promoting proper hip, knee and ankle alignment.
One way to effectively “stretch” the hip flexors is to get the pelvis back to neutral, potentially even into a posterior tilt, while firing the living hell out of your glutes. I’m not simply talking about maximal voluntary contraction. I’m talking cracking walnuts with your cheeks. Making a tonne of coal turn into three carats worth of diamonds, that kind of pressure.
How to: Get on your hands and knees, in a tabletop position (a). Slowly widen your knees out as far as they can go and bring your feet in line with your knees. Your shins should be parallel with one another (b). Flex your feet and ease yourself forward onto your forearms. (If the stretch is too intense, try putting your arms on a block or firm pillow.) Hold for eight to 12 breaths (c). If holding the stretch for longer, try slowly moving your hips forward and backward to bring the stretch to different parts of your hips.
The hip flexors are a group of five muscles that connect the femur (or thigh bone) to the pelvis. They move in one of two ways. When the pelvis is stationary, a contraction of the hip flexors will draw the femur upward—think the classic "goose step." Conversely, if the femur is stationary, a contraction of the hip flexors will tilt the pelvis forward and the butt back—think of the pull-back portion of Garth's many hip thrusts beginning at about 40 seconds in ... foxy lady!
When a muscle contracts, it shortens. Take the biceps for example. Without getting too technical, the biceps are attached at the forearm and shoulder. When your biceps contract, they shorten and bring those two points closer together. When you rest, the muscle returns to its normal length, and the two points move farther away. Constantly contracting your biceps over a long period of time would cause them to get shorter, even at rest.
There is no simple orthosis for the management of isolated paralysis of the hip flexor muscles. While the hip guidance and reciprocating gait orthoses mechanically assist hip flexion (see p. 115), neither is prescribed solely for this purpose. Rather they are prescribed for patients with extensive bilateral lower limb paralysis who also require orthotic support around the knees and ankles.
Come into a lunge position with your right knee forward, and lower your left knee to the ground, releasing so the top of your left foot is flat on the floor. Place your hands on the ground under your shoulders, keeping them both to the inside of your right leg. Keep your arms straight and press your chest forward to increase the stretch. Sink into your hips, but try to keep the weight balanced between them. Be aware that your front knee doesn’t go over your toes. Repeat on the opposite leg.
To test the flexibility of the hip flexors, specifically the iliopsoas, the Thomas' test10 is used. The patient lies supine and flexes one hip, pulling one knee to the chest. If a hip flexion contracture is present, the contralateral straight leg will rise off of the table. The modified Thomas' test (Figure 12.11) may be preferred. With this variation, the patient sits at the end of the examination table with the knees flexed to 90 degrees. Next, one knee is pulled tight to the chest. The patient is instructed to lie down while maintaining the knee against the chest. If a hip flexion contracture is present, the contralateral leg will rise off of the table. If a rectus femoris contracture is present, the contralateral knee will extend.
Muscle strains may then be a further hindrance to exercise, perpetuating the cycle of inactivity and leading to an even greater decline in mobility. As we get older, our muscle mass naturally decreases and our activity levels decline. Inevitably, muscles grow weaker and joints stiffen up. Stretching can help reverse that aging process. Whether you are young or old, athletic or sedentary, stretching is a great way to improve your fitness and agility.
How to: Sit on the floor with knees bent so that your right shin is positioned in front of you, your left shin behind you and your left hip dropped all of the way to the floor (a). Inhale and press your left hip forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip (b). Exhale and press left hip back to the floor. That’s one rep (c). Complete six to eight reps, working each time to increase your range of motion. Repeat on the opposite side.