Tight Hip Flexors

1 Apr

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Many runners will be aware of their hip flexors and either already know the importance of looking after them, or should know it! The weather is getting nicer now, marathons and half marathons are getting closer and lots of you are running and exercising more now. I have received a few queries about how to get rid of hip flexor pain so I thought I would explain about the hip flexors in a very simple way, without any scientific jargon.

Hip flexors are mainly responsible for bringing the thigh up towards the stomach area. When the hip flexors are tight, it can cause an exaggerated anterior pelvic tilt which sees a person sticking their bottom out and therefore changing their posture. As you can probably guess, this will put a lot more pressure on the lower back and can cause great pain if left alone.

One of the most common contributing factors to hip flexor tightness is that the gluteal muscles are not strong enough. Many people find that their ‘glutes’ do not activate when needed to and as a result, the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves are called upon to help. Doing exercises that isolate the glutes before starting your exercise can activate them so that they are awake and ready to work with you throughout the session. Some examples could be hip bridges, lateral band walks, lateral leg lifts, superman holds. (please contact me if you need any of these explaining)

Stretching the tight hip flexors is a must as well and will quickly reduce the pain you are experiencing. There are so many you could do but the 3 below are the ones I believe to be the most effective and I also incorporate these into every single exercise session I do. Be patient to start with as they can be quite painful due to your tightness, but as they start to loosen up they will become easier and you will notice the difference in mobility and flexibility. Stick with them, they became tight over time so it may take time for you to be getting no pain at all but leave enough time before and after your run to work on activating the glutes and stretching the hip flexors and you will thank yourself later.

 

MY TOP 3 HIP FLEXOR STRETCHES

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Lie on the edge of a surface high enough that it allows the leg to hang off it. Relax the hanging leg whilst bring the opposite knee tight into your chest. Hold it for 10 seconds before changing legs. Repeat this 4 times on each leg.

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Hold onto something for balance if you need to with this one. Grab your foot and pull it towards your body, whilst leaning forward over your front foot. Hold it for 20 seconds on each leg.

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Place your knee further behind you than in the previous exercise. Lean your body over the front knee and place your hands on your hips, giving them the extra pressure to really feel the stretch. Do not bounce, stay as still as you can and hold for 20 seconds on each leg.

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