Monthly Archives: October 2016

Hip Flexor Stretches

Hip Flexors are the muscles in the fronts of our hips. They help us flex (bend) our hip. This allows us to bring our knee toward our head as we do when we lift our leg to climb stairs, to put on your sox (or pants or skirt) or to swing our leg forward for walking or running.

If you need to stretch your hip flexors, it is important to do so safely. It is very easy to mistakenly stretch the wrong part(s)… like our lower back.

Grasp your foot with one hand while holding on to a stable surface with your other hand. Pull your abdominal muscles inward and gently pull your thigh back to about even with your torso. If you pull your leg backward too far, you will likely stretch your back or your hip joint.

The image on the left below shows safe technique. The image on the right shows an unsafe stretch with the back arching (stretching) more than the hip flexor muscles.

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In the images below we see the same stretch shown above, this time from the front. The image on the left is the same  great hip flexor stretch shown above. This image shows that it is important to keep your legs fairly close together. The image on the right shows improper technique. It is important not to let the leg you are stretching drift out away from your midline (right).

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Here is another great way to stretch your hip flexors:

With this stretch the idea is to pull your tummy in and tuck your buttocks under. Your back will be flat or there will still be a small arch in your lower back. Do not allow your back to round backward. The correct technique is shown in the image on the left. Be careful not to shift your weight too far forward while in this position. The incorrect technique is shown on the right.  In the incorrect stretch, you may be stretching your lower back or putting your hip joint in a stressful position.

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It is important to be gentle!

Hamstring Stretch!

Hamstring Stretch!

The Hamstring muscle group is located on the back of the thigh. These muscles are  responsible for extension of the hip and flexion of the knee. They are very strong and especially important for walking, running, bending and climbing stairs.

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In order to stretch your hamstring you will want to find a surface that is between 2-7 inches off the ground. The stiffer your hamstrings, the lower the surface you will use. Next, lift one leg  and rest your heel on this surface. Stand erect with a little arch in your lower back and your knees straight. You may already feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. If so, just hold this position. If no stretch yet, then lean forward slightly from your hip joints. But keep your spine in a neutral position. This will allow you to isolate your Hamstring muscles and ensure that the hamstrings are the only muscles being stretched.

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 Many times people can feel a hamstring stretch in positions when they are also stretching their back. This can be problematic because it becomes impossible to tell when the flexibility in your hamstring ends and the flexibility in your back begins.  To avoid this problem try to stay away from the following stretching positions:

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Again, keeping your spine in a neutral position is key!

Be gentle!