Hips 101: Loosen Quads BEFORE Stretching Hip Flexors
Stretching out tight hip flexors gets PLENTY of hype, but don’t be fooled! A critical step is most likely being skipped before the proper treatment of your hip flexors is addressed. We’re going to give you the openers you seek, but not before we prime your hips to absorb all the love you’re trying to give them.
By first loosening your quadriceps (the large muscles on the front of your thighs) your hip flexors will respond even better to stretching and your entire hip will feel magnitudes more relief. Your tricky quads might have been up to no good – wreaking hip havoc – without you even knowing! Stretching your quads before your hip flexors is essential for priming hip openers, so here are three quick and easy stretches for you to do on the daily.
Lower Body Relief
Stiff quads are commonly felt as tightness in the hips, lower back, or around the knee joint, and are easily overlooked as a result. If they are the culprit of your aches and pains (or at least contributing to them) it is difficult to know, since the muscle tension is typically felt in other places.
Before you came across this article, your quads may have been lurking in the background, tugging and pulling on your joints in strange ways, creating imbalanced tension. Luckily, those days are over now that you know about this tricky area! This first stretch will help you check in on your quads and see what they’re really up to:
How To: Prone Quad Stretch
Begin by lying on your stomach with legs extended and arms at your sides. Bend one knee so that you can reach back and grab your foot. Alternatively, you can attach a long stretch strap to your ankle if reaching your foot is not yet possible.
Now, before pulling your foot close to your hips using either your hand or the stretch strap, engage your core and glutes to achieve posterior pelvic tilt (PPT). All that means is that you don’t want to allow your lower back to arch here, so if you are in the correct starting position, there should be a slight gap, or at least less pressure, between your lower stomach and the floor.
Now, maintaining PPT, gently pull your foot to your hips and hold the stretch for 30 seconds before switching sides. If you were feeling especially tight there, repeat 2-3 more holds on each side before proceeding to the next stretch.
Now that your quads are open, enjoy this hip flexor stretch and discover more in the GB Online Courses!
Alleviate Hip Tension
Now that the quads are in check, we can move up and specifically address the hips. Whether from a long day of traveling or working a regular desk job, we have all felt lower back and hip tension. You know, the kind that makes everything feel locked up and nearly impossible to move. Being afflicted by this sort of stiffness is all too common nowadays, but we have your remedy. Let your hips breathe, move, and feel great again with this basic opener:
How To: Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
Find a flat, stable surface approximately knee to hip high. Chairs, benches, tables, and stairs are all good options for this stretch. Place one foot on top of the elevated surface with your heel resting just on the edge but not hanging over.
Ensure both of your feet are pointing forward. Now attempt to straighten your back knee by bringing your elevated, bent knee past your toes. As you do so, be sure to keep your torso upright; don’t fold forward with your upper body. Stay tall. As you extend the back leg and lean forward, you should feel a nice stretch through the rear hip. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch. Again, if this stretch was exactly what you’ve been searching for, repeat 2-3 more times prior to starting the final exercise in this sequence.
For an even better taste of how our courses aim to make you feel, we’ve continued working up the body to help you target another incredibly tight area of the hips. For this final hip opener, the focus will be on the piriformis muscle, which is actually a deep muscle of the glutes. Like your hip flexors and quads, this muscle gets zero love while you’re sitting at your desk. Refresh this poor glute muscle and relish in how it instantly reduces muscle tension and all the stress that can unknowingly accompany it.
How To: Figure Four Piriformis Stretch
To begin, lie on your back, cross your right leg over your left knee. Now pull your left knee in toward your chest. To deepen the stretch, reach through your legs and interlock your fingers behind your left knee, bracing your right elbow against your right thigh. Now pull on your left leg while you simultaneously push against your right. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides. If you can’t get enough of this one either, we don’t blame you! Repeat it a few more times before ending the sequence and enjoying the refreshing feeling in your lower half.
We'd like to add a special thank you to GB Trainer and Forum Coach Alessandro Mainente for proposing this concept and creating this incredible routine. Alessandro and our other GB Coaches are a goldmine of this sort of information. Be sure to check out the GymnasticBodies Forum to get involved and learn from the greatest minds in Gymnastic Strength TrainingTM!
This simple, rejuvenating hip opening series is something you can perform daily. If you work a sedentary job, try going through this sequence on your lunch break or at the end of the day. Do this routine every day for a week and let us know how it makes your body feel! For more detailed hip opening and flexibility routines, check out the GymnasticBodies Stretch Courses and prepare to enjoy a new, more limber, healthier you!