Our Hip Flexors play a major role in the overall function of our lower body and are essential for walking and running.
The hip flexor muscles are located at the front of the body and consist of the Psoas and Iliacus. These muscles have attachments on the lumbar spine, pelvis and the femur. As a result, weak and/or tight hip flexors can impact your lower back, pelvis, hip and knee function.
Runners, hikers and field sport athletes are very susceptible to hip flexor related injuries as these muscles are responsible for lifting the thigh up to allow you to step or run.
Here are three exercises to strengthen your hip flexors and prevent injuries.
Supine Hip Flexor Activation
This exercise can be done using either a squat rack or doorway.
Lie down on your back and position yourself with one foot resting on the rack or doorway and the other leg straight.
Your thigh should be positioned so your hip is just past a 90 degree angle towards your chest.
Begin to contract your deep hip flexors by lightly driving your knee towards your chest. This will lift your foot away from the squat rack or doorway.
At the same time, your other leg should be counteracting the motion by straightening and pressing down hard into the ground. Keep the back straight.
Hold for 3 seconds and then release to starting position.
Perform 5-10 reps for 1-3 sets per side or until fatigue.
Lay on your back with your knees bent in at a right angle and a neutral spine.
Wrap a tension band around your feet, keeping tension throughout the exercise.
Extend one leg and slowly bring the leg back, then repeat on the other side.
Complete 1-3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
Seated Straight Leg Raises
Sit on the floor with on leg extended and back straight.
Hug the other knee to your chest.
Engage your core and turn the other leg slightly outwards.
Begin to slowly lift your leg off the ground.
Hold for one second and then slowly lower leg to the ground.
Perform 2-4 sets per side until failure.
These exercises are deceptively challenging, especially if you have weak/tight hip flexors. Start off slow and if you feel a pinch or sharp feeling in the front of the hip, stop immediately and see a rehab practitioner to assess your hips.