Hip Flexors – Why is Stretching and Strengthening Important
There are certain body parts you think about a lot, like your hands, feet, and knees. Other parts fly under the radar but are equally important; for example, your hip flexors. You may never think of your hip flexors until they flare up. Hip flexors are one of the most overlooked and neglected parts of your body. But any woman who is taking part in a full body workout needs to be aware of her hip flexors and know how to take care of them with hip flexor stretches and strengthening moves.
What are hip flexor muscles?
Hip flexors are the group of five muscles that work to flex the hip. The primary hip flexors are called the iliopsoas. The hip flexors have several roles, including the following:
- They stabilize the core when lifting, pushing & pulling
- They draw the knees toward the chest
- Hip flexor muscles help maintain good posture and core stability
- They reverse the negative effects of sitting
- Hip flexors improve athletic performance
When your hip flexors are weak, you may have trouble doing any one of these things. You will also be more likely to sustain injury during your full body workout. Symptoms of weak hip flexors include the following:
- Discomfort after standing, sitting, or walking
- Tightness at the front of the hip/lower back
- Irregular stride length when walking
- Reduced range of motion in the hips
- Tight hamstrings1
To strengthen hip flexors and prevent injury, here are some stretches and strengthening exercises you can perform at home with MyCurves on Demand or at your local Curves Club. Here are several good hip flexor stretches you can use:
- Sit upright on the floor or a mat with the soles of your feet pressing into each other.
- For a deeper stretch, move your feet closer to your hips
- Root down into your seat, elongating your spine and tucking your chin into your chest
- Inhale and lengthen your spine
- Exhale and sink more deeply into the stretch.
- Hold for up to two minutes
- Repeat two to four times2
Lunge with spinal twist:
- Start in a lunge position with your right leg forward and your left knee on the ground
- Place your right elbow on the inside of your right knee
- Pressing your right elbow gently into your right knee, twist your torso to your left
- Reach your left arm backward until you feel a stretch in your right groin and lower back
- Hold for 20-30 seconds, then repeat on the other side3
Half kneeling hip flexor stretch:
- Start in a kneeling position on the floor or mat, on both knees. Sit on your heels, so the balls of your feet are pressed against the mat
- Place your palms on the mat in front of you. Bend your elbows and press your palms down
- Bring your left knee forward through your arms and put place your left foot in front of you on the mat
- Take your hands off the mat and straighten your torso
- Deepen the stretch by extending your right leg behind you so your right knee, shin and top of your foot are pressing into the mat
- Lean forward and feel the stretch in your hip flexor. Hold for 20-30 seconds
- Release and repeat on the other side4
How to strengthen your hip flexors
Here are hip flexor exercises you can use to strengthen your hip flexors and prevent injury. Always stretch your hip flexors before doing strengthening moves.
- Sit tall on a chair
- Outstretch your arms in front of you, parallel to the floor
- Keeping your chest lifted, lean toward the back of the chair, but don’t touch it
- As your body leans backward, your psoas will contract and get stronger5
- Start in a standing position, feet hip-width apart, and step your right food two to three feet ahead of your left. Flex your core and tuck your hips so your pelvis is in line with your ribs
- As you breathe in, rest your hands on your hips and bend both of your knees to a 90-degree angle until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your right shin is almost perpendicular to the floor. Your right foot should be flat on the floor and your left toes should be on the floor with your left heel elevated off the floor
- Squeeze your glutes and push through both feet to stand and return to the starting position
- Repeat on the other side6
- Lie on one side with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle
- Keeping your hips stacked, your elbow pressed into your side and your lower leg on the ground, lift both your upper leg and upper arm up toward the ceiling at 90 degrees
- Hold for a few seconds and return to the start
- Repeat 10 times, then switch and do the same on the other side
- For extra resistance, use the Curves circle resistance band7
Whether you are a new or experienced member at Curves, talk to your Curves Coach about hip flexor stretches and strengthening exercises, and any discomfort you feel. Learn more about Curves women’s exercise programs that are available in-club or at home so you can workout wherever and whenever it suits you.
With your Curves Coach success is within reach. Visit ‘Why Curves’ to find out more about Curves women’s only gyms and our full body workout on the Curves Circuit, or find your local Curves and sign up today! Find your local Curves here!
- Hip flexor strain – aftercare: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
- A Better Butterfly Stretch for Tight Hips (healthline.com)
- How to Do the Low Lunge Twist Stretch: Techniques, Benefits, Variations
- How to Do Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch: Techniques, Benefits, Variations
- Monday Minute: Wall Psoas Hold – PodiumRunner
- How to Do Lunges Correctly | SELF
- Clamshell Exercise: Should I Try It?