Having powerful and flexible flexors is important for your overall health and for different activities. They give you more mobility and helps improve any muscle imbalances. The two flexors located in your hip, rectus femoris and iliopsoas, also help in sitting for long hours. So, other than just training them for better workouts at the gym you should know how much they contribute to your daily life activities.
If I speak about going to the gym and relating it to flexors, unfortunately, it’s one of the most common problems in weightlifting. For example, you may experience lower back pain doing squats and same goes for other exercises.
Basically, your hip flexors contain five muscle groups that connect your femur to your pelvis. When the pelvis is stationary, the contraction of flexors causes the femur to move upward and when the femur is stationary, the pelvis tilts forward upon contraction.
So, it’s important for you not just focus on strength training but also work for the flexibility of your hip flexors. Here are three simple steps to do so.
1. Chair Assisted Hip Flexor Stretch
This is one of the best and most recommended hip flexor stretch exercises because it opens up your hips and gives a long range of motion. You will need a chair and a knee pad for support. To perform this exercise, kneel in front of a chair with your face away from it. This way, the chair will be positioned behind your back.
Put your foot up on the chair and flex the knee so that your heel is close your butt. Your front knee must point straight forward. Now focus on squeezing your hamstrings and glutes of your back leg. This way you’ll push your hips forward and avoid any hyperextending of the lower back.
Doing this, you’ll feel a very deep stretch on the outer front part of your right hip when the right leg is behind you. Now do the same with your left leg.
2. Deep Tissue Massage
Now that we’ve stretched your hip flexors, let’s do some myofascial release to help that stretching even more. Note: This will be painful, but it is a good pain that professional bodybuilders and athletes do before starting their workout.
The technique involves foam rolling. You’ll begin by locating iliac crest. Don’t freak out! It’s the top bony part of your hip.
Now place the foam roller on the floor and move into a plank position over it. Now press into your hip just below your crest and gradually move side-to-side several inches at a time. And as mentioned earlier, it will be painful in the first attempt. Warming up those muscles will hurt for a few minutes.
3. Build Flexible Flexors
You may have tight hip flexors and feel proud of yourself that they are strong. Wrong! Having tight hip flexors means back problems, muscle imbalances, and weakness. This is usually caused from sitting too much, even if it is at work or watching TV.
Among the five, the psoas is the weakest flexor in your hip which causes the other four to work more. To know if you have a weak hip flexor, lift any of your knees above 90-degrees and hold it there for a second and make sure you don’t move your pelvis or lean forward. If after a few seconds, you feel pain or seems impossible to hold the position anymore, it’s a clear indication that your psoas is weak.
To strengthen it, perform the toe-lifting exercise. The best way to do this is floor-slide mountain climbers. Use the Valslides or paper plates that will smoothly slide on the floor. Put both of your feet on the slider and bring your body in a push-up position. Finally, pull your left knee towards your chest by sliding it. Now drive it back as you slide the right knee towards your chest.
Do these three exercises three times per week and flex those flexors effectively.