Perform 2 thirty-second holds on each side per day. Once you have performed this stretch for a total of three minutes on each side, progress to the next exercise. Continue to use this stretch several times a week once symptoms have resolved to maintain hip and trunk mobility.
Tight hip flexors are a common source of dysfunction, and many people find it difficult to stretch them effectively. This exercise not only stretches the hip flexors but also targets muscles and tissue on the side of the body that can be overlooked by more common hip flexor stretches.
Place the knee of the leg you want to stretch on a pillow or mat on the ground. The front leg should be bent to 90 degrees, and the foot of the leg you are kneeling on should be tucked up so that the bottom of the foot is in contact with the ground. Place the hands around the hips and tilt the pelvis backward, tucking the tailbone under. This should bring on a stretch in the front of the hip and leg you are kneeling on. If you are unfamiliar with the pelvic tilt movement, practice the Standing Pelvic Tilt exercise available in this prescription.
From this position, lean the upper body away from the hip that is being stretched, and you will feel the stretch go down the outside of the hip and leg. Finally, reach the arm on the stretch side up and over the head towards the opposite wall, and the stretch will climb up the torso towards the ribs. You can then accentuate the stretch by taking a diaphragmatic breath to expand the bottom ribs. If you are unfamiliar with how to take a diaphragmatic breath, practice the Standing Diaphragmatic Breathing exercise available in this prescription.
Hold this position for five breaths before changing sides.
If you are unable to kneel, this exercise can be performed in standing. Stand with feet hip-width apart, and then take a step backward with the side you want to stretch. Then, tilt the pelvis and proceed as described above. The only difference will be that you may not feel as much of a stretch in the front of the thigh.
• Arching the back. The most common mistake when trying to stretch the hip flexors is to let the lower back arch as the hips are pushed forward into the stretch. If the back arches, that means that the hips are traveling into flexion, which makes it difficult to stretch the hip flexors. By performing the Drawing In exercise and tucking the tailbone under, we prevent the back from arching, placing all the emphasis on the hip joint. If the pelvis is tilted correctly, it should not take much movement to feel a stretch in the front of the hip.
• Leaning towards the stretch. Make sure you tip the trunk away from the hip being stretched to get a stretch going down the side.
You should perform this stretch for a total of 3 minutes on each side before progressing to the next exercise.