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  • Writer's pictureEmma Carpenter

Stretches to help with hip pain and tight hip flexors

Do you suffer with hip pain whilst running or exercising?

Recently I have started a new challenge for my Muscle Mind Wellness clients we are taking on the Colchester Half Marathon on the 21st of May this year. All the clients taking part have a 16 week training programme to help get them fit and ready for this challenge. I too am running on the day, it is going to be hard as I never been a good runner and i suffer with shin splints. (Shin splints blog is in the Let's keep it real list)

Now what I have found with a lot of my clients is they are suffering with hip pain and tight hip flexors. Hip flexors are a group of muscles toward the front of the hip. They help you move your leg and knee up towards your body. The common denominator I have found with the clients that are saying they have tight hip muscles and hip pain are all the clients that have carried and had children. When you are pregnant a hormone called relaxin is increased in the female body as this helps loosen joints, muscles and prepares your pelvis for birthing your baby. Now after you have given birth the levels of relaxin lowers and your muscles, joints should go back to normal. However once you have had a baby and given birth your body is never really the same again. Think your hip flexors relax to allow the baby come down through the birth canal and out into the world. Those hip flexors are over stretched so after given birth those muscles struggle to come back to normal, which in turn can cause tightness and spasms in the muscles when exercising. Now running you will use your hip flexors as you drive your knees upwards to run forward hence engaging those grou of muscles. This is why the clients that are

experiencing pain and tightness in those groups of muscles whilst running have all had babies.

Now we have finished the biology lesson I am now going to get to the point of this blog which is giving you exercises that can help with hip pain and tight hip flexors. These stretches/dynamic stretches should be completed be done before exercise or on days you are not exercising to help loosen the tightness. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and complete for one round.

5 stretches for hip flexors:

Standing front lunge:- standing up right, lunge forward making sure your front knee doesn't go over your front foot. The leg lunging forward should be bent and the back leg should be straight. Push your pelvis slightly forward to open up those hip flexors. Hold for 20-20 seconds then repeat on the other leg.

Seated butterfly:- sit on floor, place the balls of your feet together and push down on your knees with your outer elbows, slowly bring your head towards the floor (don't worry about having to touch the floor with your head as if i did that i would probably end up in hospital as have the flexibility of a stick) this is a great exercise to help stretch out the inner hip flexors.

Seated hip rotation:- sit on the floor, have both legs straight, with one leg bring it up to a right angle and place your foot over your straight leg and flat on the floor. With your opposite arm to bent leg wrap your arm around your knee and look over your shoulder. You will feel this stretch in your outer hip and glute muscles.

Pigeon pose:- place yourself on the floor, have your front leg bent infront of your to a right angle with your inner thigh facing towards thre ceiling, with the other leg place it behind you with your knee facing the floor, bring your forearms down onto the floor ( if this is too painful just have your hands infront of you and look straight forward exaggerating your chest being open)

Knees to chest:- lay on the floor, bring your knees to your chest and hit them with your hands, slightly rock yourself from side to side, not only does this help release hip pain but it is also a great stretch for your abdominal muscles.

Now all these exercises can be progressed but are also gentle so beginners can do these too. My clients who are running with me have already been given these exercises and are already reaping the benefits from adding them to their programme. My question is to you guys who are reading this, Do you have hip pain during running? Do you have tight hip flexors? Did you have them after you had a baby? What's your go to exercise for helping with hip flexors? Do you find these blogs helpful? But remember guys "let's keep it real".

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