Stretching and mobility work has its place. Some professionals believe it does nothing while others swear by it. Like most things, it depends whether or not an athlete or client needs mobility work. One drill that is common in athletes and gym goers programs is the hip flexor stretch.
Most often, it is performed like so:
Most people feel a stretch throughout the front of their hip, into their thigh, and occasionally throughout the low back.
The problem with performing a hip flexor stretch like so is that this places increased stress on structures in the hip joint itself, specifically the hip capsule/ligaments, bone, etc. Also, it is not as specific of a drill because it is not placing a sufficient stretch on the anterior hip musculature, specifically iliacus and psoas.
Clients and athletes will occasionally feel this stretch in their low back because this specific position places clients into an anterior pelvic tilt and increases the amount of lumbar spine extension. Again, another area where we don’t want to feel the stretch.
So, instead of cranking on the front of your hip and trying to feel a “strong” hip flexor stretch, what should you do?
Start in the typical hip flexor stretch position. Make sure your ear, shoulder, hip, and knee on the down leg are all stacked on top of each other.
Take both hands and press down into the leg that is in front of you. By doing this, it helps to activate your anterior core musculature and place you in a more neutral alignment.
Then, squeeze the trail leg gluteus maximus, which will also enhance posterior pelvic tilt, decreasing anterior pelvic tilt and placing more emphasis on the hip flexor musculature.
When performed like so, an adequate hip flexor stretch is felt without ever having to move the body forward.
So, if you or your athletes or clients are performing hip flexor mobility drills or stretches, try implementing this quick tip into their programming to make their mobility drills more effective.
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