My recent workouts have included a focus on working the glutes. There are many reasons, both athletic and aesthetic, for strengthening these muscles, but that is another post entirely. For purposes of our discussion, it is important to realize that many of the exercises that work the glutes, require good range of motion (ROM) in the muscle group known as the hip flexors.
The hip flexors (also known as the iliopsoas or inner hip muscles) are a collection of three muscles: Psoas major, Psoas minor, and Iliacus). When flexed, these muscles work together to pull the femur upward. The head of the femur rotates in the hip and your thigh moves up toward your torso. These muscles require regular stretching to avoid shortening and to maintain normal tone.
Image by: Beth ohara
The most common hip flexor stretch is a kneeling stretch. Kneel on both knees, then move one foot forward, until, you can feel your weight pressing down on your inner thigh and hip muscles. Keep your pelvis stable and in a neutral position. Let gravity do the work for you. Note, you do not want to lean forward on this stretch. Watch the video below, as the instructor takes the time to thoroughly review this stretch.
Hold the stretch for a period that is comfortable (I hold the stretch for 45-60s). Switch legs and stretch the other side. Then, repeat the stretch a second time on both sides. On the second stretch, you will be amazed at the increase in ROM as compared to the first stretch. If your hip flexors are very tight 10-15s might be all that you can handle. Don’t push it. Take your time. Be patient. If you stick with it gains in ROM will come and you will be able to extend the period of the stretch.
If you have a stretching partner, you can experiment with this alternative method for stretching hip flexors.
With your hip flexors properly stretched, you are ready to start working those glutes.
For related STRETCH EXERCISE EAT posts SEE: