If you’re tight through your hip flexors, you’re not alone. This group of muscles in the front thighs is tight for most people, whether active or not, due in part to our desk jobs, says Helen Vanderburg, president of Calgary-based Heavens Elevated Fitness. ‘This is one of the key areas where we need flexibility’tight hip flexors lead to low back pain and postural problems.’
Muscles have the ability to memorize a shape’known as the elastic and plastic principles. ‘With the elastic principle, a muscle temp-orarily lengthens or shortens and then goes back to its shape,’ says Vanderburg. ‘And with the plastic principle, the nervous system ‘remembers’ the new shape of the muscle.’
If you spend lots of time sitting at work, for example, the hip flexors are placed in a shortened position for long periods of time. The more you keep the muscle in this shorter position, the more your body will ‘save’ that shape in its memory, leading to tightness and tension.
‘One of the best hip flexor stretches is a dynamic low lunge,’ says Vanderburg. ‘You can do it daily, because few people have particularly flexible hip flexors.’
Legs: Step right leg back into a lunge, keeping the front (left) knee directly above the ankle. Drop right knee to the ground, pause, then lift that knee so right leg is straight’lift both hips up as you press them slightly forward. Inhale, then drop the right knee back down again, and exhale as you straighten that leg. Hold the position for 15-30 seconds.
Arms: For beginners, keep both arms down; intermediate and advanced exercisers can reach both arms up. Repeat on the other leg.