Long hours sitting at your desk can make your hip flexors feel as stiff as beef jerkies. You tried stretching them but it doesn't seem to release the tight tissues. Using a cylindrical foam roller, however, can help you release those annoying knots so that you can move your hips more freely. You can use it before and after your workout.
You can do self-massages with a foam roller anytime and anywhere, as long as you have enough room to lie on the floor. Foam rolling on your hip flexors and surrounding muscles and tissues reduces their sensitivity, allowing the muscle fibers and tissues to relax, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine. In fact, foam rolling can help you maintain the muscle flexibility between your visits with your massage therapist or chiropractor.
Apply the Pressure
Foam rolling on your hip flexors can be challenging at first because these muscles are not visible on the surface. However, you can still massage the tissues above and near the hip flexors, such as at the front of your hip joints. Lie on the floor on your stomach and put your top part of your left upper thigh on top and near the edge of the foam roller. Put your forearms and hands on the floor for support. Carefully roll toward your navel and breathe deeply as you roll. When you find a tender spot, place pressure on that spot for at least 30 seconds. The tenderness should gradually fade. Do the same for the other hip flexors.
Stretch It Out
Stretch your hip flexors after you have used the foam roller to maintain the muscles' relaxation and length. To do the standing hip flexor stretch, put your right foot on a chair or a similar platform and shift your weight toward the right foot. Push your pelvis forward slightly and tighten your left buttock. Raise your arms over your head to stretch your rotator cuffs, ribs, hip flexors and upper thighs. Hold this position for two to three deep breaths. Then tilt your torso to your right without losing your foot position to stretch your hip flexors laterally. Hold this stretch for two to three deep breaths. Bring your torso upright, switch leg position and do the stretch on the other side.
Do not use the foam roller if you have open wounds, joint or muscle inflammation, osteoporosis, fractures, stitches, or any skin disorders, flexibility specialist Ann Fredericks says, coauthor of "Stretch to Win." Check with your health care provider before you start using a foam roller or any exercise program if you have any of these problems.
- NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, 3e; Michael A. Clark
- IDEA Fitness Association: Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
- Stretch to Win; Ann and Chris Frederick
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.