Best Hip Flexor Stretch

Best Hip Flexor Stretch

Overview

Hip flexor tightness is very common in today’s society. We sit too much and we never seem to explore our full hip flexion or full hip extension range of motion.

This is an amazing exercise to work on combating your hip flexor tightness and work on improving your hip extension range of motion.

The Exercise

Achieve the half-kneeling lunge position. From here, find a stretch in your hip flexors on the straight hip without extending or arching through your lower back. You can do this by rotating your pelvis backwards (posteriorly tilting it) and squeezing your glutes. Hang out in this position for about 2 minutes passively and enjoy the stretch.

After 2 minutes, isometrically contract your hip flexors by thinking about dragging your knee forwards on the ground as hard as you can for 20 seconds. After this, slowly relax and try to rotate your pelvis backwards even more for 20 seconds. Repeat this cycle 1-2 more times.

Hip Adductor PAILS RAILS

Hip Adductor PAILS RAILS

OVERVIEW

The hip adductors are very often overlooked when it comes to mobility training, especially for squatting. Tight hip adductors may actually cause the dreaded “butt wink” or lower back rounding at the bottom of the squat. Try this exercise and retest your squat to see if you make any improvement!

The frog adductor mobility exercise is one of our favorite adductor stretches. You can target both leg’s adductors at the same time, what’s better than that?

THE EXERCISE

Get into the frog position. Find a hip and foot width that is comfortable for your hips. Find the amount of depth in hip flexion that is comfortable for your hips. Don’t push into any pinching in the hip joint. That’s not a “stretch,” and that’s not the sensation we’re looking for. You should only feel muscular tightness/stretching in the inner thigh/adductor area. If you feel pinching in the hips, re-adjust your hip/foot width and/or depth.

Once you find a comfortable position, make sure your lower back maintains its natural curvature throughout the exercise. From here, hang out for 2 minutes passively. After the 2 minutes, squeeze your thighs together into the ground as hard as you can for 20 seconds. Relax into more of a stretch then contract your hip ABductors muscles (muscles on the outside of your hips) to pull yourself deeper into the stretch and closer to the ground. Repeat for 1-2 cycles.

We can’t reiterate enough how important it is to not push into pain/pinching with this exercise. It’ll likely do more harm than benefit.

Hip Abduction Lift-Offs

Hip Abduction Lift-Offs

Overview

Training hip abduction is often overlooked. Shoot, too many people neglect the frontal plane altogether. Here’s a great exercise to work on strengthening your hip abductors near their end ranges of motion.

This exercise will not only strengthen your hip abductors, but will also help stabilize your pelvis, lower back, and hip joint. You’d be surprised at how many hip and lower back problems go away with a simple hip abduction exercise like this.

Are we saying this is the exercise you need? No. But if this exercise is hard for you and your muscles cramp immediately, it can’t hurt to strengthen those muscles! If the exercise is painful, stop.

The Exercise

achieve the rock-back position with one leg straight out to the side. Try internally rotating the straight leg’s hip as much as possible. From this position, find a good position for your hands to be placed to really challenge yourself to lift the straight leg off of the ground ~1-2 inches. Try maintaining your natural lower back curvature throughout, and hold each repetition maximally for ~3 seconds.

Enjoy the cramping!

As always, if you have pain, get a thorough assessment by a medical professional!

Terminal Hip Extension

Terminal Hip Extension

OVERVIEW

Hip extension is kind of an important range of motion to have… Especially if you walk. Or run. And we’re pretty sure the majority of you do both!

It’s one of the most common ranges of motion we find that people have, but can’t control.

What do we mean by that?! Most people have normal passive range of motion in hip extension (if we move their hip into extension for them), but can’t actively extend their hip on their own. And that’s no good!

If you can’t extend your hip using your glutes, guess what? Your lower back and SI joints are probably going to compensate for your glutes. And if your lower back and SI joints start moving too much and compensating during simple things like walking and running, imagine what may be happening during exercise. And people wonder why they have low back pain…

THE EXERCISE

Give the assessment (and exercise) a try! Get into the lumbar-locked hip extension position (similar to the pigeon pose, but sitting on top of your foot). Collapse your butt onto your heel and your chest onto your thigh. The opposite leg is straight behind you. Finally, collapse your forehead and forearms to the ground and try to lift that back leg (the straight leg) off of the ground.

Unable to do it? Give one of the regressed exercises a shot!

Think it’s easy? Try it before you talk…

Dr. Ryan just had a patient on Saturday who runs ~60 miles/week and couldn’t even start to move her leg off of the ground… And guess what? She had lower back and SI joint pain. Are we saying this is the cause of YOUR pain? No. But if this is hard, it can’t hurt to improve it.

As always, if you’re in pain, get assessed by a qualified medical practitioner.

Hip External Rotation PAILs / RAILs

Hip External Rotation PAILs / RAILs

OVERVIEW

Hip external rotation is another important range of motion for hip joint health as well as several exercises. Like squatting! Since we sit so much during the day, this is another range of motion that is often lacking. Incorporate this stretch into your training programs and reap the benefits!

This 90-90 stretch is one of our absolute favorites for improving hip external rotation. It may not look the sexiest, but it sure does give you the results you are looking for.

The Exercise

Get into the 90-90 position and make sure your spine is long and tall. From this position, hinge your torso over your front hip, again keeping your spine long and tall. Don’t round through your lower back, this will decrease the stretch intensity. Get into a position were you feel a 6-7/10 stretch in the back of your hip/glute area. Hang out here for about 2 minutes. After those 2 minutes, push that front leg down into the ground as hard as you can for 20 seconds. After these 20 seconds, using your hip flexors, pull yourself farther down towards the ground into the stretch. Again, stay long and tall through the spine! Do this as hard as you can for 20 seconds. Finally, relax into more of a stretch and repeat the above cycle 1-2 more times.

This is a very common stretch that we see people butcher on a day-to-day basis. Mainly because they round through their spines to get their chests closer to the ground. While that may look like more of a stretch, it’s not. Doing this does not target as specifically the tissues we are trying to stretch.

Hip Internal Rotation PAILs / RAILs

Hip Internal Rotation PAILs / RAILs

OVERVIEW

Hip internal rotation is a very important range of motion. It’s important for things like squatting. Not to mention overall joint health! Did you know that hip internal rotation is usually the first range of motion lost at the hip and may indicate the need for a future hip replacement?

Unfortunately, having a lack of this range of motion is very common. This 90-90 stretch is one of our favorite stretches to improve hip internal rotation.

THE EXERCISE

Get into the 90-90 position and allow your back leg to sink towards the ground into internal rotation. Rotate your torso over that back leg and hang out here passively for about 2 minutes. After this, start pushing your back leg into the ground as hard as you can for about 20 seconds. Next, try to pull your back leg’s foot off of the ground by initiating internal rotation at the hip. Do this as hard as you can for about 20 seconds. It may not move, and that’s totally fine, just keep fighting for more range of motion to build strength at that end range of motion. Repeat this cycle 1-2 more times.

Enjoy any muscle cramps you may get along the way. They’ll go away with more practice and increased strength!

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