But the group of muscles we call the hip flexors are actually made up of five different muscles that connect the knee, the hip and the lower back via the pelvis. These muscles are active everyday and are critical for movements like walking and squatting.
But when they become weak or short, it can compromise your body's ability to perform. As you age, sit for long periods of time or train without recovering properly, the hip flexors begin to tighten. As they tighten, they can pull the front of the pelvis down, creating what is called an anterior pelvic tilt. This tilt puts pressure on your lower back, leaving it in a compromised and weakened position.
To stay healthy, you should stretch the hip flexors daily. Stretching doesn't need to take hours to be effective, but you do need to set aside about 20 minutes each day. These eight yoga poses, which progress in their difficulty and intensity, will target the group of muscles that make up the hip flexors.
Use these tips for each of the poses below:
- Start by slowly breathing in and out through the nose. Keep the breath flowing through the whole stretch.
- Stay in each pose for up to a minute.
- Perform the poses in this order, as each builds on the next
Once you feel a stretch, stop. Don’t try to force yourself deeper into the pose as you will end up over-stretching and hurting yourself.
Reclined Knee to Chest on Block1 of 9
Lie down on your back and place a yoga block under your hips. Bend your right knee and draw it into your chest. Extend your left leg out and onto the ground.
As you continue to pull your right knee in, extend your left heel away from the block.
Low Lunge2 of 9
Start on your hands and knees. Step your right foot forward and come into a lunge. Sink your hips down and square them forward.
Extended Low Lunge3 of 9
Start on your hands and knees. Step your right foot forward and come into a lunge. Sink your hips down, square them forward and reach your left arm up.
Continue extending that arm as you lean to the left.
Low Lunge on Block4 of 9
From a low lunge position, place your front foot on top of a yoga block. Sink your hips down slowly and square your hips forward.
Crescent Lunge with Hip Tilt5 of 9
Start in a high lunge position with your right foot forward. Place your feet about hip-distance apart. Place your hands on your hips and bend the back knee so the kneecap points down.
Turn your tailbone down as you pull the front ribs in. Lock the pelvis in this position and slowly straighten your back leg.
Twisted Monkey6 of 9
Start in a low lunge with your right foot forward and back knee down. Bring your hands inside of your front foot. Allow your right knee to fall out to the right. Bend your back knee and grab your foot with your right hand.
Use a band or strap if needed.
Prone Quad Stretch7 of 9
Lie down on your belly with your forearms on the ground. Bring your legs together. Bend your right knee and grab your foot with your right hand.
Keep the knees together as you draw your right heel towards your right hip.
Pigeon with Hip Flexor Stretch8 of 9
From downward facing dog, draw your right shin forward. Your right knee should be to the right of your hip. Extend your left leg behind you. Roll towards the front of your left hip.
Bend your left knee and grab your left foot with your left hand. Draw your left heel towards you.