5 Simple and Easy Exercises to Loosen Hip Flexors
Your hip flexors are a set of muscles right near the top of your thighs that play a huge role in moving your lower body. They allow you to stride, bend, kick, and swivel your hips. But if your muscles are way too tight or if you make a sudden movement, your hip flexors can damage.
Hip flexor damage can be mildly uncomfortable or so critical that you have difficulty walking and have a lot of pain and muscle spasms.
Doing stretches regularly can help you keep your hip flexors loose and prevent injuries.
How to Strengthen Your Hip Flexors:
The best place to start is by doing some warm-up drills. Performing warm-up drills like high knees, bum kicks, skipping, and running backwards for 2 to 3 minutes will pent up the hips in all — front, back, and side — planes of motion, says Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist.
“Do some strength movements in all motion just to keep all the muscles in and around your hip flexors — particularly around glutes — fire up correctly,” advises Holland.
According to Amanda Nurse, a pro running coach, a marathon runner, and a yoga instructor, “You can’t achieve a good hip flexion if your glutes are weak or tight.”
“So it is super important that you’re always performing strengthening and stretching in the front and back of your hip flexor — also known as the glute muscles.” Exercises like single-leg toe touches and step-ups are especially effective at strengthening your glute muscles, while air squats, lateral lunges, walking lunges and jump squats are great for firing up all the muscles in and around your hips.
When you’re at the gym or heading out for (or returning from) a run, these 5 simple yet powerful moves will ensure your hips are open, strong and loose. This will not only make you a better runner but also make running feel good to you.
Here are 5 simple and easy moves to open your hip flexors:
1. Single-Leg Skater Squat
Start with a BOSU ball or pad placed right behind you and your feet hip-width apart.
Slowly shift your body weight to your left leg as you lift your right leg off the floor. Keep your back straight and maintain your neck neutral. Slowly come to a squat position by pushing your butts and hips backwards. Keep descending until the knee of your raised and bent leg slightly touches the BOSU ball or pad.
Upon contact, push with the heel of your stationary leg and come back to the starting position.
Repeat this for the other leg.
How it benefits you: Lengthens hip flexors, and strengthens glutes
2. Low Forward Lunge
Start by stepping one leg forward, bending the knee so that the knee is right over the ankle at a 90-degree angle (or to a 45-degree angle). Extend the other leg straight back. Stretch the spine and try not to lean forward.
Rather than placing your hands on either side of your feet, try interlacing your fingers and placing them on your bent thigh. Now you’re working on balance by engaging your core.
How it benefits you: Lengthens psoas, strengthens hips and quads.
3. One-legged bridge lift
Lay down on your back resting both your hands by your sides, with your feet flat and knees bent on the floor, ensuring your feet are under your knees.
Tighten your buttock and ab muscles. Raise your hips to create a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Squeeze your core muscles and try pulling your belly button back toward your spine. Then slowly raise and extend left leg while keeping your pelvis raised and level. Hold for a few breaths. Return to the starting position with both knees bent.
Repeat the same movement with the other leg.
How it benefits you: Strengthen your hip flexors, and activates the glutes.
4. Crescent Lunge on Knee
Start in a plank position with both your hands placed directly below your shoulders. Step your left leg right between your hands and slowly lower your left knee down to the mattress. Tighten your abs as you reach both your arms straight overhead and bend forward your knee to a 90-degree angle. Keep back lack long on a mattress and press your hips slightly forward. Hold for five breaths. Repeat this with the other legs.
How it benefits you: Strengthens your hip flexors and glutes (particularly the gluteus medius).
5. Figure 4 Stretch
Lie on your back with your knees so that your back is flat on the ground. Cross one leg over the top of the other — the leg that is not crossed is being mobilized. Using the crossed leg “twist” your supporting leg down towards the ground in both cases. Driving your knee towards the midline and swivelling your ankle away from your body. Do this for up to 2 minutes (at minimum). Repeat the same for the next leg.
How it benefits you: Stretches the glutes and opens hip joints.
P.P.S. Here’s an honest review about a related program: “Unlock Your Hip Flexors” – A Fool-Proof Program for Unlocking Strength and Vitality [Review]