Over the past year you may have found yourself sitting stationary more often and less active. This can contribute to postural imbalances, muscular weaknesses and can play havoc on the muscles that connect your lower and upper body - your Hip Flexors!
Are your hip flexors tight? Or weak? Or…. drum roll .. both tight and weak?
Hmmm, how can you tell?
Well let's chat about posture ... specifically Anterior Pelvic Tilt or Lordosis - where pelvis tilts forward (booty appears to stick out). This is an indicator of tight hip flexors in addition it could be weak abdominals, booty muscles and a tight lower back. If any of that resonates with you then keep on reading ...
It's important to strengthen and stabilize in addition to stretching to keep the hips stable and strong. Without stability, flexible hip flexors panic & tighten back up, leading to potential injuries. The goal is flexible, stable and strong - we know, easier said than done!
So are YOUR Hip Flexors Tight? Let's do a quick test.
Check out the video below and the exercises to follow.
Lay on a table so lower leg can hang freely
Maintain lower back & neutral hips (no arching low back)
Lift one knee & pull it to chest
If your leg & knee lift = Tight Hip Flexors
If your foot lifts = Tight Rectus Femoris (quad muscle)
If your foot AND knee lift = Tight Hip Flexors & Rectus Femoris
So now what ...?
BELOW ARE EXERCISES & STRETCHES TO HELP!
(make sure to do an active warm-up that makes you slightly sweaty before stretching)
Exercise 1: Standing Quad Stretch
Stand parallel, long front of hip, neutral pelvis. Keeping pelvis position & knees together, bend one knee and hold with your hand. Engage abs, straight standing leg and lengthen hip flexor of bent leg. Think: Drop the bent knee down.
Hold stretch 20 sec.
Exercise 2: Standing Lunge Stretch with Side Reach
Keep hips square. Go to standing lunge with fully straight back leg. Heel to ground. Tuck tailbone under slightly. Lift same arm as straight back leg. Reach over to side.
Hold 15-20 sec. Repeat on both sides.
Exercise 3: Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Kneeling, legs at a 90° position. Tuck pelvis under. Maintaining pelvis tuck, lunge slightly
forward. This is not a deep lunge. Keep hips inline and avoid twisting.
Extra bonus: reach opposite arm up and over the front leg.
Exercise 4: Hip Bridges with a Block
Lying face up place feet close to hips. Place a block or small exercise ball between
knees. Roll through spine to press hips forward and up. Squeeze booty to help hip stability.
Articulate through spine to roll down. Repeat 10-15 X
Exercise 5: Knee to Chest Stretch on a Block
Lying face up place block under top hip girdle and coccyx. You should feel a stretch in hip
flexor & NO strain in your lower back. Straight legs. (For some, this may already be a great
stretch!) Keep square alignment of hips, lift and bring one knee to chest. This increases the stretch on hip flexor.
Make it active: Stretch & press back of extended leg into ground & pull up the knee cap.
Hold for 5-10 sec then relax. Repeat X 4.
Exercise 6: Double Back Leg Extension with a Block
Strengthen booty and hips to support stretched hip flexors.
Laying face down. Place a block between your feet. Body remain on ground & hands
under forehead. Straighten legs & lift the block off the ground. Hold and lower with control. Feel this in legs & booty, not lower back.
Repeat 10 X
Exercise 7: Single Leg Extension using a Block
Booty burner time! Kneeling, tuck block between heel & upper hamstring to “sit” on block. Body rests forward on elbows. Maintain long spine. Extend one leg back. Straighten, pull up knee & point your foot - active leg! Lift only your straight leg (no bending) without disturbing hips or spine. The foot may only lift 1 cm off the ground. That’s ok! It will get stronger. Booty isolation helps stabilize hips which equals a reduced strain on hip flexors.
Try the test again after the exercises above and see if you notice improvement. With consistency and patience improvement is bound to happen! Focused hip flexor work can improve your mobility, aerial abilities, daily posture and in some cases alleviate lower back pain.
P.S. Did you know AP Master Trainer Christine offers virtual 1:1 coaching? Have aerial-specific goals you'd like guidance in achieving? Putting together an aerial act? Christine can help! Click here to check out her Aerial Edge program!