Healthy Hip Flexors – tips and tricks
So, whilst reading this week, I was surprised to read that tight hip flexors are the most frequently seen problem in runners! Yet, considering the fact that many runners are over-striding, it’s obvious.
The job of the hip flexors is clear: to flex the hip, ie. to lift it. But if actively doing this when running by lifting the knee, placing the foot too far ahead occurs, causing a multitude of problems! What we want is to lift the heel and extend the hip back – meaning we need flexible hip flexors for great running technique.
To test hip extension:
take a low lunge position, on one foot and one knee. Find a square in the shape of the legs, with knee over ankle and hip over knee. Posteriorly tip the pelvis (tip it back), lengthening the tail bone. This will isolate a stretch in the iliopsoas, the primary hip flexor. Other than the most flexible of people, I think pretty much everyone will have at least some stretch here but if it feels really intense and difficult, you know you need to work on lengthening the hip flexors!
Lack of flexibility here means you’ll end up placing the foot too far in front of the body when running, losing efficiency, as this adds force and impact, increasing the risk of injury but also really losing the stability of the core, which is vital for great natural running.
As we move forward with our energy, we need to send the hip and heels back behind to drive us forward and for optimal alignment.
What to do? Great for any runner – remember, don’t wait until you have a complaint to take action! All of these steps are more thoroughly explained in the most recent video in the Run Better with Yoga Facebook community.
Morning or pre-run:
- Daily morning Sun Salutes Watch on YouTube, or buy my Yoga for Runners Collection
- Pre-run drill: Lift heels behind you on the spot, gradually getting faster. Take this into your running! Lift the heels up, not the knees!
As part of a longer session, possibly on a non-run day:
- Step it up: chair – high lunge – drop back knee towards the floor, tipping the pelvis back – tap knees Please watch this tutorial in the Run Better with Yoga Facebook community.
- Hold the Low Lunge square for 2-3 minutes, followed by dropping the hip to access the quads for another minute or two (post-run)
- Use MFR ball on Rectus Femorus, TFL and Vastus Lateralis
- Lie over a block under the sacrum, draw one knee toward chest
What’s your experience? If you suffer with tight hip flexors let me know in the comments below what you’ve tried and how you get on with these tips.