Stretches for Hip Flexors

Published by Jason Narog on

Woman stretching

Does this sound like your day? You wake up, sit down to eat breakfast, get up and walk to your mode of transportation (plane, train, or automobile) where you then sit, or perhaps sit for a bit until someone who needs the seat more comes by so you stand for a bit (bus) before then proceeding to your place of work to then sit some more? Perhaps you have a sit / stand desk where you spend part of your day sitting then switch to standing to then return to sitting before commuting home (again sitting), to go home, sit down to eat dinner, then sit on the couch to watch TV before going to bed. That’s a lot of work on the hip flexors.

There’s a few things here that aren’t doing your body any favors. The sitting part is obviously bad as that tightens up your psoas, which then causes issues with your pelvis. Go to the bathroom mirror, stand sidways, then squeeze your butt. Does your pelvis tilt upwards when you squeeze your butt? You’ve got an anterior pelvic tilt from a tight psoas. Release that psoas. If you’re switching from sitting to standing that doesn’t guarantee any of those muscles that changed length while sitting are returning to normal though or are even waking up. So let’s get to work stretching them.

Before asking the Youtube experts, I’m a fan of the prying squat. Pavel suggests it in Simple & Sinister as a prying goblet squat, but you can also do it without the kettlebell.

3 Hip Flexor Stretches You Can Do In Your Bedroom

What does Dr Jo suggest to work on those tight hip flexors?

  • Lunge stretch for the psoas – [if you have bad knees I suggest getting a pillow or knee pads or performing this one on a soft surface, it’s very similar to the King Arthur stretch that I like] Get into a lunge position with one leg out in front of you and one directly below you. Lean forward on the knee out in front of you. You’ll feel a stretch in the back leg. Stay upright on the upper part of your body. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
  • Prone ankle grab – lying on your stomach, grab your foot with the same side arm pulling your leg off the ground. Use the other arm as a pillow for your head, which you don’t want active during this stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, switch sides. Repeat 3x.
  • Knee hug on a massage table, bed, or perhaps couch – she refers to the leg as the “injured” leg, but we’re trying to stretch here so we’ll call it you’re stretching leg. Hang the stretching leg off the thing you’re lying on (in supine or face up lying on your back position.) Hug the knee while letting that dangling leg fall. 30 seconds per side, repeating 3 times.

7 Best Hip Flexor Stretches for People Who Sit All Day

This is according to Bob and Brad. They do a good job explaining how the iliopsoas works. Bob and Brad do suggest going “pressure on, pressure off”, which involves a second or two of stretch, then release, then stretching again to try and get a deeper stretch. They suggest 10 repetitions if doing it this way.

  • Figure 4 – [I love how we trainers use the same words as physical therapists to name totally different exercises…] Laying on your back, extend out your left leg. Bend your right leg so your right ankle is crossed over your left knee. They then move into a left leg bent knee position where the right ankle is crossing over the leg above the knee.
  • One leg on one leg off the bed stretch – Very similar to the knee hug on the bed, but this time instead of hugging your knee to your chest leave that leg on the ground in a starting bridge position. If you’re letting the right leg hang off the bed, scoot towards the edge of the bed so your right side is slightly hanging off while both shoulders stay firmly planted on the bed so you don’t fall. A straight leg is for the iliopsoas and a bent leg will hit the rector femoris (part of the quad.) If you want to get a deeper stretch, do the knee hug from the first expert.
  • Press Ups – this is somewhere between a Sphinx and Cobra pose for the Yoga crowd. Lying face down, push up off the ground with your hands. You want to keep the entire lower body on the ground, this is more of a low back stretch that also helps stretch the hip flexors at the same time. Don’t do this if it hurts, they name medical conditions where this is definitely bad.
  • Single Leg Press Up – 1 leg is on the ground, while the other is outstretched behind you on a bed / table.
  • Prone Ankle Pull – With a yoga strap, attach the yoga strap to one foot and pull that foot towards you while keeping your other arm and leg fully extended. You can also do this on your side.
  • Standing Ankle Grab – Grab your ankle with either the same side or opposite side hand and stretch. If you suck at balance you’ll want to order a Get Back Into Fitness Fit Fittest Fitness Fit Pole.
  • Lunge Stretch – They bring out the pillow (as I suggested doing with the first expert.)

Fix Hip Flexors with No Stretching

Squat University suggests

  • Massage ball on the hip flexors (myofascial release)
  • Glute bridge with a band above the knees for a 5 to 10 second hold at the top
  • Modified situp (situps are more of a hip flexor exercise than a core exercise) in which one leg is fully extended with the other bent (similar position of the glute bridge, foot may be further away than on a bridge) in which you brace the core, place your hands under the low back and lift the head off the ground for 10 seconds
  • Cat-camel (cat/cow) – on your hands and knees with everything stacked on top of each other (wrists to elbows to shoulders and knees to hips) flex up and down to loosen up some of those tighter tissues. Repeat 20 times

This suggested routine will help release tight muscles with the myofascial release, strengthen (or simply wake up) the potentially inactive / weak butt muscles, strengthen the abs, and then actively mobilize and stretch the back. The modified sit up was a new one for me, but falls within the concept I preach regarding strengthening the abs to relieve tension from other areas of the body that are currently having to work harder because the abs aren’t doing their intended job.

My Thoughts / What Do I Do For Hip Flexor Stretching?

I do the lunge stretch but with my back leg up on something (called the King Arthur Pose.) I’ve found it (personally) targets both the quad and the psoas at the same time. I static hold it as opposed to the dynamic pressure on pressure off approach.

I do the standing ankle stretch with the Fit Pole for balance (and sometimes without the fit pole so I can actually work on my single leg balance.)

As stated above I also like prying goblet squats, the figure 4 stretch, anything that strengthens the abs, and the glute bridge.



Categories: Exercises