How should I stretch my hip flexor muscles?

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Edward Phillips
Physical Therapy
Here's how to do a kneeling hip flexor stretch:

Reps: 3-4
Sets: 1
Intensity: Moderate
Hold: 10-30 seconds
Rest: No rest needed

Starting position: Kneel on the mat.

Movement: Put your right leg in front of you with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle and foot flat on the floor. You may place your hands on your right thigh for support. Lean forward, pressing into the hip of your left leg while keeping your right foot on the floor. Hold. Finish all reps, then switch legs. This completes one set.

Tips and techniques:
  • Stretch to the point of mild tension, not pain.
  • Maintain a neutral spine while keeping hips and shoulders even.
  • Keep your shoulders down and back, and your abdominal muscles contracted.
Too hard? Lie on your back. Pull your right knee toward your chest and extend your left leg on the floor. Flex your left foot and press your left calf down into the floor. You'll feel this stretch at the front of the extended leg, the lower back, and the buttock of the bent knee. Hold. Finish all reps, then switch legs to repeat.

Too easy? As you lean forward, pressing into the hip of your left leg, lift your left arm up and over as if raising your hand in class.

A great way to stretch your hip flexor will be to complete the following:

  • Kneeling Hip Flexor – Start off on both knees.  Take one leg forward so both legs are bent at 90 degree angle.  Next, slightly lean forward and squeeze glute.  For added stretch, lift arm of leg in back and slight turn back and away from front leg. Use picture below as reference.


Kneeing Hip Flexor Stretch

1. Kneel on back leg; bend front leg at 90-degree angle.
2. Squeeze butt muscles and shift body forward.
3. Raise arm - same side as rear leg - bend to opposite side until stretch is felt in front of pelvis.
4. Hold and rotate back; hold 30 seconds.

Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
1. Stand with one leg back and other forward. Point toes of back foot inward.
2. Squeeze butt muscles and shift body forward, straightening rear leg.
3. Raise arm - same side as rear leg - to opposite side until stretch is felt in front of pelvis.
4. Hold and rotate back; hold 30 seconds.

Side Lying Hip Flexor Stretch

1. Lay on side of body.
2. Grab ankle with top hand.
3. Bend top knee, pulling heel toward butt until stretch felt in front of thigh and hip; hold 30 seconds.

Stretching the Hip Flexor "correctly" is very important and people often do this incorrectly.  When the Hip Flexor gets tight it can cause imbalances in other parts of the body.  Please see my instructional video "Hip Flexor Stretch" here:

http://www.sharecare.com/user/garrett-shepherd/videos

Grant Cooper, MD
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
The hip flexors are in the front of your thigh, and they are a bit higher up than the quadriceps. A quadriceps stretch will partially stretch these muscles. Another good way to stretch them -- and that will also stretch the quadriceps -- is to kneel on both knees. Now, bend your right leg in front of you with the knee flexed to 90 degrees. Don't let your right knee bend forward past the toes of your right foot as you flex the knee. Contract your abdominal muscles so that you keep your torso upright and straight. Feel the stretch in your left hip flexors. If you don't feel the stretch, you can slide your right foot out further in front of you so that you have to lean further into it. Your right knee should continue to be flexed at 90 degrees. The stretch should be in your left hip flexor. Hold the pose for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat the entire procedure 3 times.
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The following hip flexor stretch will give you a general approach to the lower body. Remember, as always, hold each stretch for 30 seconds, repeat four times, and never bounce.

1. Start by standing with feet together.

2. Step forward onto the right leg while keeping your knee aligned above your ankle and your hips forward.

3. Raise both of your hands above your head as you lean forward. You should feel a gentle stretch in the front of your back leg.

4. Then, lean toward the right leg and raise your left arm over your head. The stretch will move to include your left side as well as the front of your back leg.

5. Finally, raise your left arm above your body and twist it to behind your body. This opens up the left side of your body.

6. Hold each position for 30 seconds, and then switch legs and repeat all three positions.

7. Repeat the rotations four times.



Holding your legs in a lunge like this for 90 seconds (30 seconds in each position) may initially be too much for you. That is fine. Work up to it.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.