When it comes to longevity in the weight room and on the field, not getting hurt is key. And while it’s mostly anecdotal evidence, the athletes and clients of mine who perform dedicated stretches – especially the hip flexor stretch – prior to training and competition tend to not get hurt.
Sure, we know that stretching is important to give our muscles a break and heal from all the vigorous activity we put them through during workouts, but which parts of the body do we normally focus on? Hint: legs and arms. The hips are oftentimes overlooked and under stretched, which is unfortunate because they are designed to take on a lot of force.
Stretching the hip flexors allows them to reach their full range of motion. If you’re not utilising your hips’ full range of motion, a lot of the load they could potentially carry will instead fall onto your lower back, which creates problems over time. Check out these nine hip stretches to help put the hop in your hips.
This stretch serves to stretch not only your hip flexors, but your hamstrings as well.
- Begin in a seated position on the floor.
- Bend your knees to the sides, holding the soles of your feet together with your hands.
- Slowly pulling through your back, bend at your waist and bring your chest to as low as you can go.
- Hold this pose breathing in and out for 30 seconds.
Crossover Hip Stretch:
This stretch feels so good, you’ll dream about stretching out while sitting at your desk!
- Lie on your back with your legs extended and your back straight.
- Keep your hips level and your lower back down on the floor.
- Bend your left knee, placing left foot flat on the floor.
- Cross your right ankle at your left knee.
- Grab the back of your left thigh and hug your legs towards your chest.
- Place your right elbow on the inner portion of your right knee and push it slightly to the side.
- Breathe deeply and hold for 10-30 seconds.
- Repeat on opposite side.
Deep Squat Stand:
Get your quads, glutes and hamstrings stretched out with this deep stretch!
- Stand tall with your feet wider than hip-width apart.
- Bend forward at your waist to grab your toes with your hands.
- Drop down into a deep squat while keeping your arms straight, elbows inside your knees, back flat and chest up.
- While holding your toes, raise your hips back and straighten your knees until you feel a good stretch in the back of your legs.
- Hold for 1 to 2 seconds.
- Continue for the remainder of the set.
Extended Wide Squat:
As if the deep squat stand wasn’t enough, this one will really extend the squat and give your muscles the treatment they deserve!
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips.
- Bend your knees, and lower your hips down toward the ground.
- Bring your palms together at your heart centre, and firmly press your elbows against the inside of your knees.
- This will help to open your hips even further.
- After five breaths, release the hands to the floor and walk them away from your feet, as far as comfortable, to increase the stretch in the hips and lower back.
- Hold for another five breaths.
Floor Hip Stretch:
Don’t forget to breathe out when leaning forward to get the most out of this stretch!
- Sit on the floor with your right knee bent in front of you and your left knee out to the side with left foot behind you.
- Bring your right foot around so that it touches the left knee.
- Put your hands on the floor in front of you with your arms straight.
- Inhale and lift your chest up.
- Breath out as you lower your shoulders over your front knee until you feel a gentle stretch.
- Inhale as you raise your chest while maintaining a good curvature in your lower back.
- Hold this pose for as long as it is comfortable to you.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
Goblet Squat Hold:
This is a great stretch for the hips, hamstrings, and glutes, while also strengthening them as well. It also targets the hip flexors and stretches the groin.
- Begin by holding your kettlebell against the middle of your chest.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart, with toes pointing slightly out.
- While keeping your weight on your heels, start pushing your hips back and towards the floor.
- Keep your chest up and try to wedge your elbows in between your knees at the bottom point of the movement – dropping your pelvis as close to the floor as possible.
- Push against your inner thighs with your elbows to enhance the stretch.
- Continue to push the pelvis forward and drive the weight into your heels.
This stretch will strength and lengthen your arms, shoulders and back as well as stretches your hips.
- Interlace your fingers and raise them overhead so that your palms are facing the ceiling and your arms are squeezing your ears.
- Keep your feet hip-width apart, back straight and chest up.
- Stretch your hands up, and sink into a wide lunge lunge.
- Look up towards the ceiling.
- You should feel this stretch in your legs and your lower back.
- Maintain balance and hold for 3-5 seconds, repeat on other side.
Shakira’s hips don’t lie and yours won’t either after this hip flexor stretch.
- Start with your feet planed shoulder-width apart.
- Place your hands in-between your legs, and lean forward so that your shoulders are directly over your hands.
- From the starting position, bring your left leg backward.
- Toes and knee on the ground.
- Your left leg should be extended as far behind you as comfortable.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds and switch sides.
Toy Soldier Stretch:
This dynamic stretch will take your hips through a forward range of motion.
- Start with your feet hip-width apart and your arms straight above your head.
- Keep your back straight and your chest up.
- Kick your right leg upward while bring your left arm downward so that your right foot and left hand try to meet.
- Keep both your arms and legs straight.
- Return to the starting position and switch sides.
- You should preform this move quickly while maintaining proper form.