Your skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscles work together to keep your body running like a machine. Within this muscular system there are various parts, from muscle fibers to ligaments. You may know about hamstrings, quadriceps and abdominal muscles, but there hundreds of muscles that move within your body. Some are involuntary, like parts of your digestive system, while you control others whenever you go for a walk or lift weights.
Hey Martha! Thank you so much for your comment! You’re right, if you’re flexing the hip it’s hard to stretch it! The last three you mentioned are so helpful for focusing on the adductor group, although yes, they aren’t helping stretch the rectus femoris in those positions. I was trying to include a variety of stretches to include every hip flexor muscle. I’m very curious about the lying hip flexor stretch now, though. It’s been a go-to with every trainer I’ve worked with, and I’ll have to look into this more. What are your favorite hip flexor stretches for patients? Thank you!
Beverly Hosford, MA teaches anatomy and body awareness using a unique method that involves a skeleton named Andy, balloons, play-doh, ribbons, guided visualizations, and corrective exercises. She is an instructor, author, the NFPT blog editor, and a business coach for fitness professionals. Learn more about how to align your business with her coaching guide, Fitness Career Freedom and your body with her Fundamentals of Anatomy Course.
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Now the catch with hip flexion is that most of us sit in chairs and end up in a position of passive hip flexion and knee flexion (bent knees) and retain that position for many hours a day. We know now that our bodies process the movement or lack thereof and adapt to the shape that we most frequently inhabit, for better or worse. If you primarily flex the hips and knees and never fully extend them, you may have chronically short or weak hamstrings, limited range of active hip flexion and limited range of active hip extension, for starters!
Gait analysis studies in the elderly show that they typically have a shortened step length. Whether that is a result of tight hip flexors or due to reduced balance, the propensity to walk with shorter steps will itself lead to tightness in hip flexors and anterior joint structures. Hip stretches may be a relatively easy preventative strategy for the elderly with gait abnormalities and may help to prevent falls.
Some stretching basics: you should feel a stretch, but not pain. If it really hurts, contact a physical therapist and figure out what’s really wrong. If your hip flexors are truly tight, a few weeks of doing these stretches should help you feel better! You should notice relief, so if you’re not, you may have something else wrong besides “tightness,” or you might need to address what you’re doing the other 23 hrs and 50 minutes of each day.
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.
Dean Somerset, CSCS, a personal trainer and post-rehab specialist in Edmonton, Alberta, is owner of Somerset Fitness Ltd. He has a degree in kinesiology from the University of Alberta and is certified by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s written articles for The PTDC as well as T-Nation and Bodybuilding.com, and contributed to Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness, and many other magazines and websites. You can contact him at his website or Facebook , and check out his unique approach to training on his YouTube channel.
I think you should mention that for some people, stretching is not the solution and that it will deteriorate their posture. Some people need stretching, but most people I know need to strengthen their "overstretched" hip flexors. Many people can't do a single hanging leg raise. Check this site if you want to know more about the importance of hip flexors bit.ly/Unlock_Your_Hip_Flexor Report
The rectus femoris is one of the quadriceps muscles. The rectus femoris arises from the front of your hipbone, runs through the middle region of the front thigh and attaches to the top of the kneecap. In addition to hip flexion, the rectus femoris straightens, or extends, your knee. This dual function increases the vulnerability to strain injuries. Stretching exercises to maintain flexibility and balanced training to equalize your quad and hamstring strength reduce the likelihood of rectus femoris strains.
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.