How to Stretch Your Hip Flexors
In the world of ballet, flexibility and strength are the keys to success. A leg extended to extraordinary heights is equals to beauty and expertise, whereas a lower height is seen as lesser quality.
Here are 5 Exercises to Stretch your hip flexors:
- Exercise 1: 3 Way Kneeling Hip Stretch
- Exercise 2: Static Hip Flexor Stretch
- Exercise 3: Half kneeling Dynamic Stretch
- Exercise 4: Pigeon Pose
- Exercise 5: Malasana Pose
Alrighty, let's break them down.
Dancers are trained from their first ballet lesson to reach their toes to the utmost end of their range of motion, and push themselves beyond the regular restrictions of the human body. (side note: We wrote an post on Oversplit in case that interest you).
Lets go back...
So, despite the pressure put on dancers to be extremely flexible, tight hip flexor muscles (Complicated word alert: therectus femoris and the iliopsoas group) are a common complaint, restricting hip hyperextension (called an arabesque). To compensate for this restriction, dancers tend to rotate the pelvis incorrectly, most commonly leading to lower back pain (LBP). Compared to other regions of pain, (Lord knows we got many...) pain in the lower back has the highest prevalence in dancers (Miletic, 2015).
Struggling from tight hip flexors is common among many dancers. It can be caused by gripping in the front of the leg or sitting all day. Over time, tight hip flexors can inhibit flexibility and can make certain movements painful. Don’t worry though, we have five exercises that will help loosen those hips.
Exercise 1: 3 Way Kneeling Hip Stretch
Begin by moving to a kneeling position. Once kneeling, place one leg forward so that the foot is flat on the ground and the shin is perpendicular to the ground. Engage your glutes and slowly begin moving the shin that is parallel to the ground outwards and inwards.
Tip: For support and comfort, place a dish towel under your knee while on hardwood floors. Also, you can use a wall for support.
Exercise 2: Static Hip Flexor Stretch
Kneeling with one foot out in front, shift you weight forward so that your base leg is elongated. Make sure to keep your front knee directly over your ankle. Hold this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
Tip: This static stretch is best done when your muscles are completely warmed up.
Exercise 3: Half kneeling Dynamic Stretch
While simplistic, this is a great stretch for both your hips and your lats. Begin in a half-kneeling position as previously described. On your base side, raise your hand in the air and slowly begin stretching up to the other side. Repeat this movement ten times on both sides.
Tip: Be careful to not twist your torso, shoulders, or hips.
Exercise 4: Pigeon Pose
A lot of great hip stretches can be found in yoga practices. One of these stretches is the pigeon pose. You probably already do this stretch before doing the splits, but it is great for hip flexors too. Start in a seated butterfly position. Extend one of your legs to the side. Using your hands, shift your shoulders and hips in the direction of the bent leg. Position yourself so that the front leg is bent while the back leg is straight (sort of a half-split). Play around with turning your back leg in and out and occasionally curling your toes under. Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds and remember the goal is to keep your hips and shoulders facing forward.
Exercise 5: Malasana Pose
The malasana pose is great for anyone who is experiencing tightness in the hips and lower back. Begin in a standing position with your feet planted and toes spread out. Keeping your knees apart, slowly lower your bottom between your heels. Place your elbows in front of your knees and your hands in a prayer position.
Tip: Remember to keep your back lengthened with energy.
What other exercises do you do to stretch your hip flexors?
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