There are few things more painful than hip flexors that stop working the way they should. Ranging from a dull ache to stabbing pains in the pelvis or groin area, problems with hip flexors can stem from overuse, underuse/weakness, improper use, and a lack of strengthening and stretching habits. Fortunately, there are four at-home exercises that are designed to help these muscles and offer relief from pain or discomfort.
1. One Knee Up
Kneel on the floor on one knee with the other foot planted on the floor. With your pelvis tucked under your hips, gently move your body forward as you keep your back straight. Once you begin to feel the stretch in your upper thigh, stop moving forward and instead hold the stretch for 30 seconds. You may find that the longer you hold the stretch, the easier it becomes. Gently inch forward again until you feel the stretch in your upper thigh. Switch legs. Repeat three times per leg. Don’t hold this stretch for longer than 30 second intervals as it will not improve your flexibility and may result in injury.
2. All Fours
Tie one ankle to a chair or pole with resistance tubing. On your hands and knees, slowly bring the knee of the tied ankle to your chest. Hold for 5 seconds and slowly return it to the starting position. You should feel resistance in both directions as your hip flexor works to move your hip back and forth, strengthening your hip flexor. Do two sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.
3. Seated Hip Flexor Exercise
This is an ideal exercise to do while sitting in an office chair. Adjust the chair height so when your feet are planted on the floor, your leg forms a 90 degree angle at your knee. With one foot on the floor, raise the other leg so it is straight in front of you, parallel to the floor. Keeping it straight, raise it until your leg is waist high, then lower it so it is parallel to the floor. Repeat 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.
4. Marching Exercise
Standing up straight and tall, bring one leg up as close to your chest as possible as though you are marching in place. Hold it there for 5 seconds then return it to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg. If you cannot balance effectively on one foot, this same exercise can be done with your back near a wall. Just be sure to stand as straight as possible while alternating legs.
One of the best ways to avoid hip flexor pain is to avoid staying seated for too long. Those who are physically active or who take periodic breaks from seated work are less likely to develop pain over time. Even if you have a regular exercise routine, ensuring your core muscles are strong and can stabilize your hips will dramatically affect your level of pain in your hips. If you are still experiencing hip flexor pain or would like additional information about any of these strengthening exercises, contact your nearest Elliott Physical Therapy for a FREE Injury Screen today!