4 Amazing Yoga Positions For Stretching Your Hips

Hip flexors are muscles usually ignored by people when exercising, or not exercising. But without them, it would be impossible for you to sit down, stand up, and even move your legs forward and backward.  The hip flexors also known as the iliopsoas or the inner hip muscles are constantly needed for sitting, sprinting, jogging, kicking and they even help with injury prevention. But as they are not visible like other prominent muscles such as the biceps or shoulders, most people do not give them the attention they deserve.  Indeed only a minority of people are in the know of how important the hip flexors are. Some veteran gym enthusiasts could know about them. Also people who suffer from horrible back pain may know about them as well, but too late. And you do not want to be in this latter category.  What makes this group of muscles so important is its contribution to your core support and injury avoidance. It also helps drive your knees up and keep your thighs and pelvis aligned. Strong and loose hip flexors are important factors for professional and amateur athletes to enjoy safe running.  What exactly are the benefits of keeping your hip flexors stretched and loose?

Better Performance

According to Gregory Holtzman, director of the Running Clinic and an associate professor of physical therapy at Washington University, the body can compensate for weak hip flexors. But when it does that, it can lead to imbalance or even injury.  Weak hip flexors contribute to poor posture and other running-related issues. Holtzman recommends to perform strength training exercises at least three times a week to help strengthen and stretch the muscles in this group.

Improves Motion Range

If you are an adult or athlete of a certain age, strong hip muscles provide the core stabilization mechanism that your body needs to move properly. If you do not stretch these muscles and neglect to provide the care they require, it will affect your range of motion in the long run.  You can improve your stability, flexibility and motion range by exercising and stretching them regularly. Hip flexor stretches keep the soft tissues around your hips loose and more mobile.

Better Back Support

While exercising, the hip muscles actually help you drive forward and stabilize when landing on your feet. They prevent excessive side motions that can possibly strain you back.  Overdeveloped, stiff, short or tight hip flexors will cause you to suffer from lower back pain issues. This problem can progress to unnatural forward tilting of your pelvis, which in turn will misalign your lumbar spine and potentially cause lower back pain, let alone a possible crouched stance.  If you are experiencing hip problems due to an old injury, or old age, your physician may recommend certain stretches, exercises or therapies to help keep your hip flexors strong.  But if you have already suffered from a hip injury, your physician will most likely advise you to do some exercises and core workouts by swimming while you are in the resting phase of your healing, as this physical activity is the least stressful for your joints.  Last but not least, using yoga to effectively stretch your hip flexors daily can help keep these muscles healthy, loose and strong. You do not need to spend many hours doing this. You can simply set aside around twenty minutes of your day for these stretches.  Below are some yoga moves you can perform on your own in the comfort of your home.

Reclined Knee To Chest

For the first stretch, you need to lie down flat on the floor and place a yoga block just underneath your hips around the lower part of your back. Bend your left knee and slowly draw it close to your chest and extend your right leg out. Then do the same with the other leg. Repeat this movement a few times.

Crescent Lunge With Hip Tilt

Next, start with a high lunge position with your left foot forward. Make sure that your feet are about hip-distance apart. Put your hands on your hips and slowly bend your back knee until the kneecap points touches the floor.  Turn your tailbone down while pulling the front ribs in. Afterwards, lock your pelvis in this position and straighten your back leg slowly while feeling your muscles stretch.  Then repeat the same thing with the other knee, and do this a few more times.

Prone Quad Stretch

Lie down flat on your belly, place your forearms on the ground and bring your legs together. Slowly bend your left knee and grab your foot with your left hand. Keep both your knees together as you draw your left heel towards your left hip.  Repeat with the other side.

Low Lunge on Block

Start with your hands and knees on the floor and step your left foot forward, coming into a lunge position. Drop your hands and sink your hips down and square them forward. You can place a yoga block underneath your left front foot to get a better stretch.  Do the same on the other side.  You need to take slow and deep breaths while staying in these positions for one minute each time. If these stretches start to feel too uncomfortable, stop for a while and start again.  Do not force too much or you might end up over stretching and hurting your muscles. Your hip strength will increase over time so that you will be able to hold these positions longer. Of course you can then push it to the next level and join a yoga class, which is perfect for strengthening the hip flexors.  If you are feeling severe strain or pain, see a physical therapist without delay. He will help you define the problem and strengthen your hip flexors. As every case and person is different, you might need massage therapy to help you return to your former activities.  Remember your hip flexors are precious to your mobility, treat them with care to avoid complications later in life.

Guest Post By: Katrina Rice