Forward Bending Hip Flexor Stretches

Bending forward opens the hip and lengthens the hip flexors.

Bending forward opens the hip and lengthens the hip flexors.

Sitting for hours on end can cause the hip flexors to bunch up and tug on the pelvis, resulting in low back pain. You can counteract the effects of too much sitting by gently stretching the muscles that cross the front of the hip, lengthening them and restoring joint range of motion. Stretches that involve bending forward and extending the hip are highly effective, as long as you use proper form and successfully isolate the flexors. Choose a stretch that feels good and perform it daily. After several weeks, your hips should feel looser. At that point, keep up the routine to maintain what you've gained.

Kneeling Stretch

Kneel on the floor and step forward on your left foot, directing your toes forward. Align your right hip over your right knee and your left knee over your left heel. Straighten your back and press your shoulders down and slightly back. Place your left hand on your left thigh and your right hand on your hip.

Tighten your abdominal muscles and bend your left knee. Hinge at the ankle and move the left hip directly forward over your instep. Avoid arching the lower back or rotating the pelvis. Engage your core continuously and keep your hip bones level and facing forward. Squeeze your right buttock. Feel a mild to moderate stretch in front of your right hip. Hold for up to 30 seconds.

Raise your right arm overhead, and bend your upper body slightly to the left to intensify the stretch. Hold the new position for up to 30 seconds.

Lower your arm and slowly shift your hips back to their initial position. Rest briefly, then repeat the two-phase stretch two or three times. Bend the knee and move the hip farther forward with every repetition, if you can do so without arching your back or rotating your torso. Repeat the exercise on your left side.

Standing Stretch

Stand facing a bench, chair, low wall or other stable surface at a distance of several feet. Align your head over your spine, straighten your back and press your shoulders down and slightly back. Place your hands on your hips and relax your jaw and neck.

Place the sole of your right foot on the surface. Direct the toes of both feet forward. Keep your shoulders and hips level and facing front.

Bend your right knee, hinge at the ankle and slowly move your hips directly forward, extending and lengthening the front of the right hip. Keep your torso upright and your hips facing front as you tighten your right buttock. Feel a mild to moderate stretch along the front of the hip. Hold for up to 30 seconds.

Extend your right arm overhead and gently bend your upper body to the left to intensify the stretch. Hold for up to 30 seconds, release, then repeat the two-phase stretch two or three times before switching to your left side.

Items you will need

  • Small towel, optional

Tips

  • Before stretching, warm up with 10 minutes of general physical activity, such as jogging, jumping jacks or light prancing around the room. When you break a sweat, complete a set of 10 to 15 dynamic lunge walks to further prepare your hips for stretching.
  • Breathe evenly and at regular intervals throughout the exercise to achieve a deeper, more effective stretch.
  • If you experience kneecap discomfort during the kneeling exercise, place a small folded towel between your knee and the floor.
  • When you perform the standing exercise, experiment by placing your raised foot at different heights.

Warnings

  • Failure to engage your stomach muscles can lead to excessive pressure on the lower back.
  • Bouncing or forcing the stretch can lead to injury.
 

About the Author

Judy Fisk has been writing professionally since 2011, specializing in fitness, recreation, culture and the arts. A certified fitness instructor with decades of dance training, she has taught older adults, teens and kids. She has written educational and fundraising material for several non-profit organizations and her work has appeared in numerous major online publications. Fisk holds a Bachelor of Arts in public and international affairs from Princeton University.

Photo Credits

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