Updated: Feb 1, 2019
Where are your hip flexor muscles?
Your hip flexors are a group of muscles situated deep, at the front of your hips that bring your legs and trunk together. There is often lots of tension and strain caused around this area, commonly due to lifestyle, hence causing them to be very tight. It's really important to strengthen your core, glutes and keep your muscles and joints moving regularly in order to avoid hip flexor tightness and injuries caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
What did hip flexors do?
Hip flexors work to flex your hips and assist in lifting your legs up when you move. If you are someone who spends a lot of time seated during the day – whether that is commuting to and from work, sitting at a desk and perhaps relaxing on the sofa in the evening – your hip joints are flexed (shortened) for much of the day. As the muscles are held in a shortened position for long periods and without the stimulus of regularly standing and moving your hips, your body assumes that you only need a limited amount of hip movement and as a result, adjusts the length of the muscles around them, making them tighter.
Hip flexors and glutes
Having tight hip flexors often goes side by side with weak buttock muscles, known as your glutes. This is because sitting compresses your glutes and inhibits them from working properly too. Eventually, these muscles become weaker too, through lack of use and by having weak glutes this brings an array of other physical problems and impaired performance.
For more strengthening and stretching exercises to help tight hip flexors BOOK ON to LYDIA. PILATES classes in Leighton Buzzard and surrounding areas.
Exercises for improving hip flexibility & glute strengthening
Glute strengthening Bridge
Lie on your back in neutral spine, with your knees bent and feet on the mat and your legs hip distance and parallel. Extend your arms alongside your body palms facing down. Press the backs of your arms into the mat. On an inhale, press down through your feet to lengthen your spine and lift your pelvis toward the ceiling. Come to a bridge position on your shoulders with your knees, hips, and shoulders in one line. Firm your abdominals and hamstrings. Pause at the top of the bridge to practice lifting one leg, then the other, off the mat. If you can remain stable while doing this, move on to extending and lifting one leg. If not, practice this part of the exercise until you've built more strength in your core and the backs of your legs.
This exercise is not suitable for participants with osteoporosis, though it does bring a wealth of benefits for those able to practise it. These include: developing pelvic and spinal stability; increasing the flexibility of the hamstrings and hip flexor muscles, and promoting overall bodily awareness, balance and control.
Start lying on your back and place the arms by the side, palms facing down. Once you have found neutral spine extend your right leg upwards. Place one hand behind your right thigh with the other hand on top. Lift your head, neck and shoulders (chin to chest) and extend your left leg to a slightly lower position. Push your right thigh into the palm of your hands, creating a feeling of resistance.
Exhale as you split the legs in a scissor motion away from each other, and reach further on the second breath. It’s best to avoid letting the leg move too far or drop in front of the face. Both legs should move through the same range of motion. A foam roller or a fitness ball can also be placed under the hips as a means of support.
Stretches such as the image at the top of this article, alongside lunges and squats are also a great way to stretch your hip flexors and release tension around the pelvis.
If you are looking for beginners Pilates classes in Leighton Buzzard, Linslade, Heath and Reach or Westoning area in Bedfordshire - please get in touch with Lydia! Mixed ability and Intermediate classes available! Look forward to seeing you soon.