Ever stand up from a long day of doing nada with your legs and think, “Um, why am I sore from doing all of that nothing?” Welp, you can thank your hip flexors.
In case you need a refresh, hip flexors are a group of muscles in your abdomen, thighs, and glutes (dat butt) that function together to help you do things like bend over and lift your knees to your chest, says Jennifer Simpson, a trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp, a strength and cardio-based fitness studio chain.
Because they’re essential for running, walking, squatting, or basically any form of exercise, they’re prone to tightness, says Simpson. And even if you don’t work out, sitting at work, in class, or whatever shortens, or contracts, the muscle. So when you stand up again it lengthens your hip flexors, making them feel tight or sore.
Enter, stretching. These five super simple moves can help you gently lengthen the fibers in your hip flexors and the surrounding muscle groups, easing soreness and stiffness.
Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch
Start on your knees, and step your right foot forward, ensuring your knee doesn’t pass your toes. Press your hips forward, still keeping your knees behind your toes. For a deeper stretch, squeeze your right glute, and lift your chest. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute on each side.
Bonus: This move also stretches your glutes and quads.
Start on your knees, and step your left foot forward. Lower your left knee to the back of your left wrist, keeping a 90-degree bend in your knee. Let your right leg lie straight on the mat behind you. Press both hips forward, and lift your chest. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute on both sides.
Bonus: This move also stretches your glutes and groin.
Figure Four Stretch
While lying on your back with both feet planted on the floor, lift your right leg, and let your right foot rest on your left quad.
Grab both sides of your left leg, and gently pull it toward your body. For a deeper stretch, press your right elbow against your right knee. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute on both sides.
Bonus: This move also stretches your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.
Reclining Angle Bound Pose
Lie on your back with your legs straight out in front of you, keeping your arms at your sides. Bring the soles of your feet together, moving your heels as close to your tailbone as you can. Hold for 30 to 90 seconds.
Bonus: This move also stretches your groin and inner thighs.
Lie on your left side, resting your head on your left arm. Then, bend your right leg 90 degrees so your right knee is in line with your hip and resting on the floor.
Bend your left leg behind you, grabbing your left ankle with your right hand. Gently pull your leg to open up your chest, moving your left shoulder blade closer to the floor behind you. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute on each side.