If you find yourself gasping at the pain in your aching hip, you could be suffering from a case of muscle tension in your hip flexors. Your hip flexors, or iliopsoas, flex your thigh, while your knee extensors -- including your quadriceps, rectus femoris and three vastus muscles -- extend your knee outward. Tension in your hips or knees can radiate down to your feet and ankles or up to your back and neck, causing pain throughout your body. You don't need a miracle cure to get a grip on the pain, though. Instead, a few simple stretches can loosen up your muscles and give you a welcome break from the pain.
Stand up straight in front of a wall to stretch your knee extensors. With one arm extended out to balance on the wall, lift your left foot toward your butt so that your calf presses against the back of your thighs. Pull your foot upward and back until you feel a stretch, then hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Try again with the other foot, and you may find that your knees and hips feel blissfully looser already.
Use the wall to keep your hip flexors stretching, this time by turning your back toward the wall. If you find yourself wobbling, put your shoulders up against the wall to prevent an awkward crash. Then lift your leg forward and off of the ground while keeping your knee straight until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, then do it again on the other side.
Grab a stool and stand directly in front of it. With your spine straight, lift one foot onto the bench with your knee bent and your other foot flat on the ground. Lunge forward, bending your knee and keeping your rear leg straight, until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
- If stretching is painful, don't force the stretch.
- Stretching can also make exercises such as running and jogging easier, which might mean you can meet your weight loss goals and get a bikini-ready body more quickly.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.