Runners know the importance of stretching, but some of us don’t do it nearly often enough. Toronto-based athletic therapist and personal trainer, Pamela Mazzuca Prebeg explains why the hip flexor stretch can be a runner’s best stretch, especially if you’re short on time.
By: Pamela Mazzuca Prebeg BSc. Kine
Running is repetitive, the same linear movement repeated kilometer after kilometer. But combine this with a sedentary office job and your hip flexors are most likely tightened and shortened. This is not a great thing. The problem with short and tight hip flexors is that they cause your pelvis to tilt forward, making your butt stick out more than it should. And while everyone loves a good booty, an anteriorly tilted pelvis results in bad posture, can predispose you to low back pain because they put undo stress on the discs and hinder your running potential.
So what exactly is the hip flexor?
The hip flexor is made up of three different muscles – the Iliopsoas (the combination of the psoas and iliac muscles), Rectus Femoris (one of the quadriceps), and Satorius. These muscles originate on the pelvis and low back and they insert into the femur (thigh bone). When activated and flexed they allow you to lift your knee up.
And while strong hip flexors are advantageous for a runner, tight ones are not. So spend a few minutes at the end of each run stretching your hip flexors to help keep your back healthy and alleviate any pain you may already have.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
How to: With your hands on your hips, kneel on the ground and place your right foot flat on the ground in front of you so that your ankle, knee and hip form 90 degree angles. Keeping your back tall, tilt your butt under you and push your hips forward as much as possible. To intensify the stretch, reach straight overhead with your left arm and lean slightly to the right and hold for 20 seconds. You can also try reaching bringing your left foot to your butt and holding it there with your left hand for 20 seconds. Remember to switch sides.