7 Best Hip Flexor Exercises to Stretch and Strengthen

Strengthen your hips. Image via Pexels/Maksim Goncharenok
Strengthen your hips. Image via Pexels/Maksim Goncharenok

Hip flexors are an important, yet often neglected group of muscles located in the midsection. They are responsible for the most movement in the lower body, including lifting the legs to walk or run.

Despite the role played by hip flexors, underactive hip flexors are a common ailment faced my most people. Underactive hip flexors are accompanied by lower back pain and tightness in front of the hip.

Underactive hips lead to back pain. Image via Pexels/Kindel Media
Underactive hips lead to back pain. Image via Pexels/Kindel Media

Aside from underactive hip flexors, some people may have very tight hip muscles, which prevents them from performing most daily activities efficiently. That also inhibits their flexibility, and they might find it difficult to do a lot of exercise movements without injuring themselves.

Best exercises for hip flexors

If you think you’re one of those folks with weak or tight hip muscles, fear not. We’ve gathered some of the best exercises and stretches you can perform to strengthen and stretch out those hip flexor muscles, and get you moving nicely in no time:

1) Bridge

This pose is the base for most hip movements. Also known as glute bridge, this move can be performed as a dynamic exercise or as an isometric hold.

  • Lay on the floor on your back; bend your legs, and point your knees to the ceiling. Ensure your feet are hip-distance apart, and place your arms straight out on either side of you.
  • Lift your hips up while pushing your shoulders and feet into the ground. Use your hands to stabilise yourself.
  • Lower your hips back to the ground.
  • Repeat this movement for 12 to 15 reps.

2) Squats

Squats should be included in everyone’s lower body routine. They are effective in strengthening the legs and hip flexor complex. They also help improve mobility in the lower body. Here's how to do squats:

  • Stand straight with your feet hip-distance apart and back straight.
  • Push your hips back, and lower them to the floor by bending at your knees and hips. Bring your thighs parallel to the ground.
  • Push yourself up by straightening your legs, and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat this movement for 12 to 15 reps.

3) Straight leg raise

Leg raises are effective in building core and hip strength. Trying it out with one leg might prove effective as well. Here's how they are done:

  • Lay on your back on the floor. Tuck your hands underneath your lower back or buttocks.
  • Raise your legs up to an angle of 90 degrees from the floor, and hold them straight up in front of you. Point your toes to the ceiling.
  • Lower them back toward the ground, but don’t let them touch the floor. Ensure that your lower back is flat on the ground.
  • Repeat this move for 15 to 20 reps.

4) Mountain climbers

This is a popular core exercise that is also performed as a HIIT move. Here's how it's done:

  • Get into a high plank position on the floor.
  • Bring your right knee up, and point it toward your right elbow.
  • Return the right leg back straight, and bring the left knee in the same fashion, aiming it toward the left elbow before extending it back.
  • Repeat this movement, alternating sides, for ten to 15 reps on each side.

5) Kettlebell swings

Kettlebell swings are a go-to exercise for anybody with a kettlebell. This move prompts you to hinge your hips, making it an effective exercise to strengthen the hip flexors.

  • Place the kettlebell on the floor, and stand straight in front of it with your feet hip-distance apart. Hinge forward in your hips and knees, and grab the handles of the kettlebell in both hands.
  • Lift the kettlebell off the floor, and allow it to swing between your thighs.
  • Straighten yourself up quickly, and push your arms forward using your hips to swing the kettlebell up toward shoulder-level.
  • Hinge again at your hips and knees as your arms come back down to bring the kettlebell between your thighs.
  • Repeat the move for 12 to 15 reps.

6) Lunge stretch

Time for some stretches. Just like the name suggests, the lunge stretch also provides a stretch to your entire leg and hip flexor complex. Here's how it's done:

  • Stand straight with your feet together.
  • Step your right leg out about a foot ahead of you. Lower your body into a lunge position, and bring your left knee to the floor.
  • Push your hips forward, and drive your knee over your foot.
  • Hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds before repeating on the other side.

7) Pigeon stretch

The pigeon stretch is more of an advanced pose, but it is highly effective in stretching out your hip flexors. Here's how to do it:

  • Get into a high-plank position on the floor. Bring your right knee forward, and place it on the floor between your hands.
  • Straighten your left leg out behind you, and push your hips to the ground. Using your arms, push your shoulders back.
  • Hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds before repeating on the other side.

Add the above-mentioned exercises and stretches to your routine. Perform them a few times a week to notice optimal changes in the flexibility and strength of your hip flexors.

However, remember that recovery doesn’t happen overnight. So be gradual with your progress; eat well, and give yourself plenty of rest. Those hips should be working great soon.

Poll : Do you suffer from weak or tight hips?



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Edited by Bhargav
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