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Best Hip Flexor Stretches After A Day Of Sitting

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Best Hip Flexor Stretches After A Day Of Sitting
Hip Flexor Stretches

Most of us spend a lot of time sitting at work, in the car, on public transport, or during our relaxation time. Sitting can cause the hip flexors to become very tight from being held in a shortened position for long periods of time. 

Tight hip flexors can be uncomfortable, but they also affect other parts of your body like the glutes, core and lower back. 

When the hip flexors are tight, it can be harder to activate your glutes (the opposing muscle), as they become lengthened and won’t engage as effectively. 

Find Out:

You can counter the effects of sitting a lot by strengthening and stretching the muscles around the hip joint. 

What are hip flexors?

The hip flexors are actually a group of muscles that help to lift your knee to your chest and help you bend at the waist. 

These muscles include: 

  • Iliacus and psoas major muscles (also called the iliopsoas) that reach from the inside of the pelvis to the spine.
  • Sartorius muscle, which extends from the spine to the knee cap.
  • Tensor fasciae latae, located at the side of the hip.
  • Rectus femoris, which is part of your quadriceps and also extends from the spine to the kneecap.

Your hips bear the weight of your body all day — not just when you’re sitting, but also when you are walking, running and jumping. 

While it is important to stretch tight muscles, it’s also important to strengthen the other muscles around the hip by doing strength exercises focused on your glutes and core. 

Making time to stretch daily can help to improve your mobility and prevent injury. We’ve included a few hip flexor stretches that you can try below. 

Best hip stretches to do daily

To take care of your hip flexors, you need to stretch and mobilise all of the muscles that connect to your hips. 

The first few stretches here focus solely on tight hip flexors, and from here we’ll move on to the other muscles that connect to the hip joint. 

Use these stretches after a workout or take 10 minutes at the end of your day to loosen tight hips. 

Hip flexor stretch

This stretch targets the front of the hip. Ease into it gently and find a point of stretch but not discomfort. 

1. Begin in a kneeling position on a yoga mat.

2. Release your left leg and take one large step forward, so that you are in a lunge position. Ensure that your front knee is not further forward than your toe. If it is, then you will need to take a bigger step forward.

3. Keeping your torso upright, push your hips forwards so that you feel a stretch along the front of your right leg.

4. Hold this position for 30 seconds. 

5. Repeat this stretch with your right leg forward.

Hip flexor and quad

Building on the previous stretch, this stretch focuses on the front of the hip. In particular, it targets the rectus femoris, the hip flexor muscle that is part of your quadriceps and helps to lift your leg. 

1. Begin in a kneeling position on a yoga mat.

2. Release your left leg and take one large step forwards so that you are in a low-lunge position, ensuring that your left knee is not further forward than your toes. If it is, then you will need to take a bigger step forward.

3. Carefully raise your right shin off the mat. Release your right arm and hold onto your right foot with your hand.

Keeping your torso upright, push your hips forwards so that you feel a stretch along the front of your right leg.

4. Hold this position for 30 seconds, breathing deeply throughout. 

5. Each time that you exhale, use your abdominals to tuck your pubic bone towards your belly button, to increase the stretch.

6. Repeat this stretch on the other side.

Hip flexor and quad using a bench

To increase the intensity and take this stretch to the next level, try using a bench or a fitball — when using a fitball, make sure it’s against a wall so it doesn’t roll away. 

1. Place a bench horizontally behind you.

2. Begin in a kneeling position on a yoga mat with the top of your right foot resting on or against the bench. This is your starting position.

3. Release your left leg and take one large step forward, so that you are in a low-lunge position, ensuring that your left knee is not further forward than your toes.

4. Keeping your torso upright, push your hips forwards so that you feel a stretch along the front of your right leg.

5. Hold this position for 30 seconds, breathing deeply throughout. 

6. Repeat this stretch on the other side.

Glutes

The glutes work with the hip flexors to move your hips and most of your lower body, so for optimal hip mobility, you should stretch your glutes too.

1. Start by lying flat on your back on a yoga mat. Bend your knees and position your feet firmly on the mat, ensuring that they are hip-width apart and your spine is in a neutral position. 

2. Release and turn out your right leg so that your ankle is resting on your left leg, just above your knee. 

3. Draw your left knee in towards your torso, resting both hands on the back of your left thigh. 

4. Hold this position for 30 seconds, breathing deeply throughout.

5. Each time that you exhale, draw your knee further into your chest and press your right elbow into your right knee to increase the stretch, ensuring that your spine remains in a neutral position and your tailbone on the floor. 

6. Repeat this stretch on the other side.

Seated twist

You can do this glute stretch in a seated position, targeting the largest glute muscle, the gluteus maximus. 

1. Begin in a seated position on a yoga mat with your legs extended out in front of you and feet flexed. Lift your left leg and place your foot on the mat on the outside of your right knee. 

2. Wrap your right arm around your left knee and place your left hand on the mat behind your hip, gently pulling your knee in towards your chest.

3. Hold this position for 30 seconds, breathing deeply throughout. 

4. Repeat this stretch on the other side.

 

Adductors

This is also referred to as the ‘butterfly stretch’. Completing stretches like this after your workout is so important and something many fitness beginners don’t make time for or forget to do!

1. While seated on a yoga mat, extend both legs out in front of you.

2. Release and turn out both legs to bring the soles of your feet together directly in front of you, Place your hands on your feet, resting your forearms on your thighs.

3. Bending from the hips, lower your torso towards the mat and gently use your forearms to press your thighs towards the mat.

4. Hold this position for 30 seconds, breathing deeply throughout. 

5. Each time that you exhale, lower your torso further towards the floor and use your forearms to press your thighs further towards the mat.

Tensor fasciae latae (outside of leg)

You’ll need a foam roller to target this hip flexor. 

Foam rolling is a form of myofascial release that you can do on your own body. It works by massaging or releasing muscle and fascial tightness. 

The roller applies pressure, helping to break up ‘knots’ that can form in your muscles and tissue. Follow these instructions to foam roll your tensor fasciae latae:

1. Position the foam roller parallel to the left side of your body and place your left hand on the floor on the outer side of the roller. 

2. Extend your left leg as shown, and allow the foam roller to press into your left TFL (directly below your hip).

3. Slowly roll the foam roller along the length of your TFL. Once you reach a point of tenderness (called a trigger point), pause and hold that position for ~60 seconds or until the pressure/pain is significantly reduced. You can choose to perform small strokes over the point of tenderness if you would prefer.

4. Continue to roll down the length of your TFL, pausing on trigger points as needed.

5. Repeat on your right side.

Standing stretches to help your hip flexors

You can’t always sit on the floor to stretch, so here are some standing stretches that you can do throughout the day. 

Quads

Several key hip flexors extend from the hip right down to the knee, so stretching the quadriceps along the front of the leg helps to keep them from feeling tight. 

1. Plant both feet on the floor slightly further than shoulder-width apart.

2. Bend your right knee and bring your foot back directly behind you, so that you can hold it with both hands. You should feel a stretch in the front of your right leg.

3. Hold this position for 30 seconds. If you’re struggling to balance, focus on a spot directly ahead of you or extend your left arm.

4. Repeat this stretch with your left leg.

Standing glute stretch

If you’ve been training outdoors and don’t want to sit on the ground to stretch, use this standing glute stretch at the end of your workout. 

1. Plant both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart.

2. Lift and turn out your left leg so that your ankle is resting just above your right knee, as shown.

3. Bend your right knee so that you are in single-leg squat and gently push down on your left knee using your left elbow.

4. Hold this position for 30 seconds. If you are struggling to balance, try to focus on a spot directly in front of you.

5. Repeat this stretch with your right leg.

Adductors

Use this standing stretch for your hips after a workout, or any time throughout the day. 

1. Plant both feet on the floor hip-width apart. 

2. While maintaining an upright position, release your left leg and take a large step out to the side. As you plant your foot on the floor, bend your left knee, ensuring that your right leg remains straight. 

3. Hold this position for 30 seconds, breathing deeply throughout.

4. Repeat this stretch on the other side.

Calves and hamstrings

Strengthening your hamstrings and calves should always be part of a balanced lower-body resistance programme. After every leg workout, you should stretch these muscles to help improve your range of motion. Use this standing stretch for calves and hamstrings to maintain flexibility. 

1. Plant both feet on the floor hip-width apart. Release your left leg and take a large step out to the side. Ensure that both feet are facing forwards. 

2. Bending from the hips, turn your torso towards your left leg and reach for your foot (or as far as you can), placing your hands on your foot, shin or knee — whichever is most comfortable.

3. Hold this position for 30 seconds, breathing deeply throughout.

4. Each time that you exhale, bring your torso further towards your left leg to increase the stretch, ensuring that you are bending from the hips and not rounding through your spine.

5. Repeat this stretch on the other side.

Use these stretches to release tight hip flexors

Stretching before and after workouts can help with hip tightness. Our trainers' top workout tips always include time for stretching as part of your warm up, cool down and recovery. 

As always, if you have strained or torn a hip flexor and you have a sharp pain that doesn’t resolve, make sure that you see a health professional for advice. 

How do you keep your hips flexible? Share your tips in the comments below!

* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.

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