5 Poses for the Modern Hip Flexor
If you are reading this now, odds are that you have tight hamstrings and hip flexors.
We sit A LOT. It’s just a fact. Driving, working, typing, watching a movie or a game…It is all seated. And that creates really immobile and inelastic hamstrings and hip flexors.
So my little Christmas present to you is 5 stretches to have in your back pocket to keep your hip flexors and hamstrings healthy and happy! (And an added bonus that these help with low back pain!)
Standing Forward Fold
Forward fold is magic! It is one of the easiest as well as one of the most effective hamstring stretches out there! You’ll even see bendy becky doing some forward folds in the front of the yoga room. It is such a great pose because it can be as deep or as shallow of a hamstring stretch as you would like it to be.
It is simple: from standing up straight, hinge at the hips and fall forward until you feel a stretch.
For a passive stretch, just let your upper body hang. For an active stretch, engage your thighs and abs to stretch farther towards your toes.
SIDE BAR: Let’s do this safely.
[Soap box warning]
There is a right and a wrong way to do a forward fold. The goal of a forward fold is to get a stretch in your hamstring yes? Yes. So to do that, you have to fold forward with a FLAT spine. Don’t curve into your lower back. It is not about how far you get down. It is about the stretch you feel in the back of your legs. If you round over your low back, you won’t get a stretch in your hamstrings. You’ll just get compression in your lower vertebrae. Everyone will be at a different point going down towards your toes and that is completely fine. Find you edge. Don’t compromise your back health just to get your fingers down to the floor.
2. Cobbler’s (Butterfly) Pose
Sitting up tall on your sit bones, bring the soles of your feet together.
Don’t let ego take over. This stretch is for you. If you want to make the stretch more intense, you can slide your feet in closer to your body, try to get your knees down to the ground or lean forward (with a flat back!). BUT all of those are options. Just find one that serves you well and use it.
3. Supine Knee to Chest Pose
This one is my go-to for people with tight hip flexors because it is also a back release. While laying on your back bring one knee into your chest. Try to keep your hips grounded into the mat as your knee comes closer into your chest. If your hip flexors are really tight and your hips do come up off the ground when you do this, keep your extended leg bent with your foot flat on the mat. Breathe.
Repeat on the other side.
4. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Seated Twist)
Sit up tall with both feet extended out in front of you. Then bring your right foot into your chest while still seated. Take your left arm and hug that knee into your chest as you place your right hand down behind your hips and look over your right shoulder. You should start to feel a twist in your torso. If this feels fine, then feel free to explore going deeper by placing your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Twist deeper but make sure it is from your core (not your shoulders) and still feels good. We want it to be a release.
Repeat on the other side.
5. Child’s Pose
The best one. Let’s go with a wide child’s pose to release your hip flexors this time.
While on all fours, bring your knees wide to the width of your mat. Let your big toes touch and sit your hips back onto your heels as your forehead comes to the mat and your arms stretch out in front of you. With your exhale feel like your hips are sinking closer into the mat. Stay here as long as it serves you.