Hip Flexor Health For Better Movement

Hip Flexor Health for Better Movement

stretch

HIP FLEXOR HEALTH FOR BETTER MOVEMENT

Healthy hip flexor muscles are associated with both stretch and strength. Although we’re going to focus more heavily on strength in this article, always note that both strength and flexibility are imperative for increased health within the muscles that make up the hip flexors and the muscles overall. Unfortunately, because the hip flexors are a challenging area for many, they are sometimes given short shrift or executed with little intention in our yoga practice. Matt reminds us that the hip flexors are the initiators of forward movement, so facing the challenge is essential in order to reap the benefits.

In today’s video, Matt provides accessible options to incorporate into our yoga practice. These actions and drills, when practiced consistently over time, transform our experience on the mat and in our everyday movement.

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MOVEMENT IS A MUST

“Those who move more frequently have less occurrence of blood clots, frozen joints, cartilage degeneration, impaired digestion, metabolic disease and even skin problems”.

Humans Have a Basic Physical and Psychological Need to Move the Body: Physical Activity as a Primary Drive

We implement movement into our daily lives, so without even knowing any of the specific scientific benefits (as listed above), we still know what they are because we experience the positive aftereffects. Some of the benefits we experience include the following:

  • increased energy levels
  • better sleep
  • improved mental health

Strong, healthy hip flexor muscles literally initiate movement and drive us forward. It’s the action of hip flexion that allows us to do things like walk, run, and skip. Strengthening our hip flexor muscles will ultimately help us to move forward in a more efficient way.

WATCH THE VIDEO

HIP FLEXOR HEALTH FOR BETTER MOVEMENT: 5 DRILLS TO BUILD STRENGTH & LENGTH

DRILLS FOR PRONE PRESS AND BOAT POSE

Prone Press

The actions involved in this drill help us feel a connection to our hip flexor muscles. There are 2 variations to explore:

  1. In a prone position, we bend the first leg and press the knee into the ground. This promotes the sensation of activation. The second leg lifts but remains straight.
  2. The second variation adds more intensity by abducting the arms and lifting the torso.

Boat Pose Drills

The variations Matt teaches here offer a challenge for our hip flexor muscles.  

  1. The first one calls upon us to move in a way that forces us to be very intentional about initiating the movement with the hip flexors, as opposed to emphasizing the core.  
  2. Maintaining hip flexion while extending each leg all the way up is humbling. It’s also very telling about the amount of work that is required.
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PYRAMID & “DANDASANA-LIKE” LEG LIFTS

Pyramid Leg Lifts

If it’s a challenge we’re looking for, this is it! Once we are set up in this Pyramid variation with dorsiflexion in the front foot, we then actively lift the front leg up towards the chest. Even if there is a generous amount of strength present, it will be possible but still challenging. If we have less strength here, the front leg may not even lift up. Something important to note is that even if the leg doesn’t lift, the movement will still activate the hip flexor muscles.  

“Dandasana-Like” Leg Lifts

The variations within these leg lifts offer a nice controlled way of promoting strength in the hip flexor muscles. You’ll see in the video that a simple change in angle of the leg will help target the psoas, pectineus, adductor longus, adductor brevis, or gracilis.

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STRETCH IT OUT

As much as strength is imperative for the health of our hip flexor muscles in terms of improved movement, we must also incorporate opportunities to stretch these muscles in our yoga practice, even between strengthening drills.

The delicious stretch Matt offers in the video is laid out in 4 stages, targeting first a stretch of the quadricep muscles, all the way up to the psoas in the final stage.

Selecting stages, or gradually going through all of them, can offer relief from the strengthening drills, but we shouldn’t underestimate the challenges that come with lengthening as well.

In Matt’s next workshop, Hip Release, he’ll guide us through specific postures, drills, and techniques for the hips. We’ll learn to stretch and to extend our understanding of our own bodies in order to have a greater effect on our yoga practice and to improve our movement overall.

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Move Immersion

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