Imagine you’re not able to climb the stairs, move your knees or even walk. These days, desk jobs are making our hip flex muscles weaker and tighten our hip flexors. Hip problems have been increasing lately and have led to an increasing number of hip surgeries in the US. According to the research, most adults in early middle age are at peak of having a problem-related hip joint, and thus it is kind of important for most of us to include hip flexor exercises in our workout schedule.
Powerful hip muscles are the one thing that sportsmen always want to have to compete in their sports. Therefore, we also need strong hip flexors muscles to carry out daily activities like climbing, standing, walking, sit-ups, standing, etc.
These muscles let you lift your thigh towards your torso. But if these muscles are weak, you may experience low back pain. That is why it is important to keep hip flexors strong and flexible.
Lower body workout especially targets hip flexors muscles. Hip flexor muscles include:
- Psoas major
- Rectus femoris
Therefore it is important to have hip flexor strong as well as flexible
Hip Flexor Stretches
First of all, we’ll be talking about some hip flexor stretches, which will help you loosen up your hip flexor and bring flexibility to your joint.
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1. Seated butterfly stretch
This move will stretch your inner thighs, hips, and your lower back. You should perform this exercise by sitting down.
- Sit on the floor having your back straight while engaging your abs.
- Join the soles of your feet together in front of you and hold them with your hand.
- Try to pull your heels toward you and relax your knees.
- Take a deep breath, and try to hold this pose for 10 – 30 seconds.
2. Pigeon pose
This is one of the most popular poses in yoga. Don’t force yourself to do this pose if you don’t feel comfortable.
- Stay In a plank position.
- Now try to lift your left foot away from the floor and slide it forward so that your knee stays on the ground next to your hand. It depends upon your flexibility that where your knees and toes might fall.
- Now slide your right leg in backward lowering yourself to the floor, while keeping your hips square try to bring your upper body down as much as you can
- Hold the stretch and switch sides.
It is an amazing stretch that you can perform even while laying on your bed.
Lie down on your back and bring your arms at your sides, feet touching the floor with your knees bent. Try to position your feet in such a way so that your fingers can touch your heels.
- Press your heels, and try to lift your hips off the floor in the upward direction while squeezing your glutes and feel the stretch. Try to keep your shoulders close under your body.
- Hold the position for a few seconds and then return to the original position. Repeat this several times. Don’t forget to breathe properly.
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Hip strengthening exercises
The following are some exercises to strengthen your hip muscles.
Begin from a standing position. Look in the forward direction and take steps from your right foot
- You need to make sure that a 90-degree angle is formed between your right foot and your left foot while taking steps.
- Make sure that your knee hovers above or softly touches the floor.
- Step back again in the standing position and repeat the same with your left leg.
- Focus on making balance and try to connect with your body.
- Repeat the exercise with a minimum of 2 sets of 15 reps.
2) Floor sliding mountain climbers
Grab a cloth, towel, paper, or something that slides easily. You can also wear socks and do this exercise.
Stand on a floor with having smooth surface or wood floor.
- Begin with a pushup position, holding the cloth with your feet.
- Pull your right leg in the direction of your chest and do the same thing with your left leg simultaneously.
- This is similar to mountain climbers. All you have to do is slide your leg on the floor while doing one.
- Begin slowly, and focus on the form. Later, pick up the pace.
3) Skater squats
This exercise is similar to squats but it targets most of your hip muscles.
- After each squat, shift your weight to either one of your legs while lifting the opposite leg off to one side with your toes pointing in the other direction.
- Do alternatively with each leg.
- Lie on your back and take turns moving each leg upward and off the ground for about 2 seconds.
- Hold it at a 45-degree angle. Your other leg should be bent at the knee with your foot resting on the floor, and keep the toe pointed to the sky.
- Switch both the legs and then repeat 10 times on each leg.
4) Straight leg raises
It is one of the best and the easiest exercise to do. It targets the hip flexor and the core muscles. It is generally included in the rehab program after a hip injury. It is a nice exercise to add to your lower body workout.
- Lie down on the floor.
- Bend your right foot at a 90-degree angle keeping it landed on the ground.
- Engaging the quadriceps muscles of your left leg raise it to a 45-degree angle while inhaling, keeping another leg straight.
- Hold the position for 5-6 seconds.
- Now, exhale and bring the leg down back to that position.
- Repeat it 10 times for each leg
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5) Wall psoas hold
This exercise helps you to strengthen your hip flexor muscle called the psoas. It helps to increase side length and reduce hip injury.
Begin from a standing position.
- Bring your right knee upward bending your leg at a 90-degree angle
- Lower it slowly, feeling the stretch, and repeat with another leg.
6) Hip flexion
It helps you to bring more flexibility and targets your glutes too.
Lay down on your back and keep your leg straight.
- Take one knee at a time and pull it towards your chest.
- Try to pull it as much as you can near to your chest
- Now, bring the leg back to the starting position and repeat the same with another leg.
These are some of the exercises that you can practice regularly and get strong and flexible hip flexors. The stronger the hip flexors you’ll have there will be less chance of hip injury.
After doing these exercises many times you might not feel difficulty in doing these exercises. You can later do an add on to your workout by adding weight and different products to make your workout more interesting
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Some products are:
1) Resistance bands
The basic benefit is you don't have to go for extra weight when you use them, you can just increase the sets
Bad at offsetting the effect of gravity
Allows you to work on more muscles
Bands can break
Provide resistance that helps in strengthening and toning muscles
Difficulty in reflecting back
2) Ankle weights
Possibility of leg strain and injury
Also helps in toning of legs
(do not use if you feel uncomfortable working out with it)
Burns more calories
3) Therapy balls
It helps to build core strength
Helps in improving balance
Massages with it relieves tension in your muscles
More exercises using these products
1) Lateral Band Walk
This exercise focuses on strengthening the hip flexor and side muscles known as glutes medius. These are the muscles responsible for stability while walking and running.
- Place both the legs inside the resistance
- Make sure that there is tension and engage your abdomen.
- Walk sideways about 10 steps on each side
- Also, try to perform this exercise in a squat position
2) Hip abduction with resistance band
For this exercise tie your rubber therapy band around a table or a foot of a bed or something stable.
- Place one foot inside the band, and then try to push it in an outward direction.
- Hold it for 2 seconds
- Return to the starting position
- Switch legs and repeat 10 times.
- After feeling comfortable with the exercise repeat it 15 times.
3) Ball bridge with knee flexion
After mastering the ball bridge, add knee flexion to it for further challenge. It causes contraction in the hamstring, core stability, hips, and core muscles
- Hold the ball bridge position.
- Then bend your knees slowly and allow the ball to roll toward your butt
- Make sure your abdominals are getting engaged
- Hold this position for two seconds when your knees are bent
- Repeat it 10 times
- Then slowly lower your body and relax
4) Ball bridges
- Lay on your back with your legs resting on the ball
- Slowly raise your butt upward and make a bridge position of your body
- Make sure your hip and core muscles are engaged
- Hold this position for 2 seconds and then lower your body down
- Repeat this exercise 10 times
5) Knee crunches
We need therapy or an exercise ball for this.
- Start with your hands on the floor and your legs resting on the ball
- Then lift your legs and hips that are on the top of the ball
- Keeping your back straight pull your knees towards the chest
- Stretch out to the original position and relax
- Do 3 sets of 15 -20 reps.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What is the best way to strengthen your hip flexor?
You can use exercise or therapy balls to do knee crunches. It not only targets your hip flexor but also most parts of your lower body.
2) What if you don’t have a hip flexor?
Without hip flexor, you can not bend your knees inward towards your chest and you’ll also find it difficult in staying in a squat position for a long time.
3) After an injury, when should we reduce movement in the hip flexor?
For at least 48 hours you should reduce movement in your hip flexor after initial straining occurs. That means you should stay away from any activity that lifts or flex your knee too much.
4) What is a hip flexor?
They are the group of muscles that allow your knees to move towards your chest and your leg to move upward.
5) What is a standing hip flexor stretch?
Stand straight and bring one of your knees towards your chest and hold it for 5 seconds or more if you can.
Feel the stretch in your hip muscles and then bring your leg back on the ground and take a rest
Do the same with your other leg and repeat it 5 times or more if you are comfortable.
6) How can we get rid of hip flexor pain?
- Get a chair
- Place one of your arms on the chair and keep yourself balanced
- Now bend your other leg till you are feeling the stretch
- Stay in that position for 30-60 second
- After holding the position, bring your leg back to the standing position and relax
- Repeat the exercise with another leg.
7) Why should we do hip flexor exercises?
Not everyone can have agile hips but we can strengthen them and make them more flexible by exercising. Even great sportsmen wish to have a strong hip flexor, which provides them more strength to play the sport. Even dancers, strong hip flexors are responsible for their sexy rocky moves. Not only for sports or dance but strong hip flexors are also important for daily life as they prevent you from any severe hip injury and do not let you face any problem while walking, bending knees, or even while climbing.
8) How to strengthen the sides of your hips?
Lay on one side of your hip. Raise the opposite leg in the direction of your ceiling. Make you’re engaging your hip muscles. Hold it for 6 seconds and then bring it back to the original position. Do 15-20 reps and 3 sets of it.