The Executive Athlete and my favourite hip stretches
Like many of you, I have a few years of desk work under my belt . 9-5, sitting. You may have heard this before, but: that is not a very good thing for a human to do. When you spend most of your time seated, the hip flexors (the muscles that fold your body) tend to shrink and “get tight,” especially if you’re an “executive athlete” (as Kelly Starrett calls it) who hits the gym and then sits while recovering. Tight hip flexors can cause all sorts of trouble, but for me personally, my lower back feels tight when I need a stretch.
Before you start stretching, there are a couple things to consider:
1. Is stretching right for you? Do a little research.
- If you’re hypermobile, it’s better to build stability than stretch any lax joints. Check out this post by The PTDC for more info and an example of the Beighton Hypermobility test.
- Are your hip flexors even tight? Here’s a cool video showing the Thomas test for hip flexibility. Try it yourself!
2. Did you warm up? You should stretch muscles when they’re warm, so standing up from your desk in the middle of the day to do some stretching is not the best idea. If you are one to take a brisk walk on your lunch break, post-walk is a great opportunity to stretch.
Here are three of my favourite stretches for tightness in and around the hips:
The Standing Hip Flexor Stretch: This one may look like it’s for babies, but I do it aaaaall the time, and it has been a great way for me to grow my awareness of exactly which muscle in the hip is tight on different days. Stand with one leg behind you, bend both knees, and tuck your butt under to stretch the front of your hip from abs to knee. It’s this rotation of the pelvis that creates the stretch. Think of engaging your abs. It may take a little searching around to find it, but experiment with moving higher and lower, and make sure your back is straight and you’re looking forward.
The Kneeling Lunge: Step it up a notch by putting your knee on the ground and turning your toes under. Make sure your front knee is at about 90 degrees, and slide your back knee further back for more stretch. I like to start with my hands on the ground on either side of my front foot, then bring them to the knee. Again, think about turning your pelvis under to get that stretch. If that isn’t quite enough, you can then raise your arms overhead and look up.
The Triangle Pose: You may need a yoga instructor to help you find this one if you’re not familiar with it, but it is my favourite right now for stretching the side of hip, especially after a big squat day! One tip a yoga teacher gave me that made all the difference in this pose was to engage my core – again, it’s all about playing with the tilt of the pelvis for hip stretching.
Want more? Kelly Starrett at Mobility WOD has some great ideas on this too!
Which stretch is your fave?