Yoga to Increase Hip Flexor-ability

Yoga Flow to Focus on the Hip Flexor Muscle Group

yoga-1482810.jpgOne of the muscle groups that often experience the most tightness in our modern society is the hip flexors.  Sitting for long periods can cause these muscles to shorten up and become tight, leading to problems with posture and back pain. There are a variety of yoga poses which are particularly good for loosening the hip flexors, some of which you’ll find demonstrated in the video below.  Follow the entire flow, or pick and choose the poses from the video which feel most helpful to you.

As a massage therapist, I often utilize yoga positions for helping my clients stretch while on the table, and often recommend clients with issues stemming from tight hips give yoga a try.  (Let pain be your guide: yoga should be approached gently. If your body says, “STOP!,” be sure to listen. And if you have any physical issues, it’s always best to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.)

English: Anterior Hip Muscles

The hip flexors refer to the group of muscles connected to the hip bone which collectively pull the femur up when we walk or run.  They are the muscles that raise the knee over and over when we walk, or any activity that requires the knee and upper leg to raise…and those hip flexors can get tight!  Sitting for long periods with the hip flexors in the shortened position only increases the problems we often see related to tightness in this set of muscles. And in our culture, we sit a lot, a posture in which the hip flexor muscles are at their shortest. While adding regular exercise is always a good idea, activities such as walking or running strengthen those muscles, but does not lengthen them.  If tight, this muscle group can become fatigued or achy when we take a long walk or run, because along with the muscles of the legs, they are doing some of the most important work in moving us forward!

I like to incorporate yoga poses which help stretch out the hip flexorsinto my weekly yoga sessions. I practiced hip-opening yoga often while training for ultramarathons, as running strengthens (and thus shortens) these muscles.  Below is a 30-minute routine geared toward beginners. It’s a great muscle warm-up before more intense activities such as weight-lifting, basketball, tennis, or a hard run.  Yoga is also a good way to warm and loosen muscles before a massage, allowing your muscles to open and stretch more readily on the table.

Take advantage of the adaptability of yoga, by modifying the poses to your own level of comfort and ability.  Be gentle with yourself, and over time your body will become more and more flexible. So let’s get our yoga on, and get those hip flexors flexing!

Hip Opening Yoga: 30 Minutes

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