We’re living in stressful times, and a good way to help manage tension is to breathe! The Hip Flexor Stretch may help.
1. Place an exercise pad or rolled towel on the floor. Kneel with your knee on the pad and put your other foot out in front. Both legs should form 90-degree angles, as shown in photo above.
2. Lift your arm from the same side as the kneeling leg up overhead, keeping the arm straight.
3. Squeeze the buttock on the same side as the knee that is on the floor, which automatically places your hips in the desired position and activates your core muscles.
4. Inhale slowly to allow the stomach to expand to the sides and forward as the diaphragm takes in oxygen. Then reach upward and curve your arm slightly while slowly exhaling for up to five counts, as shown in the photo at right. Rest for three-to-five seconds and repeat again, four or five times.
5. Change the kneeling leg and repeat the same method another four or five times.
6. This exercise teaches breathing from the diaphragm, and stretches the hip flexor group: psoas, iliacus and rectus femoris muscles.
Some tensor fasciae latae and gluteus minimum muscles in the buttocks will also be stretched, along with the latissimus-dorsi muscles along the spine.
Avoid arching your lower back or leaning back while stretching. Keep your head and neck tall, don’t lean forward and don’t let your knees move inward or cave your ankles or slump your shoulders.
Disclaimer: Do not begin any physical activity described in this column without prior approval from your health care professional.
Eva Franco, a member of Shula’s Athletic Club in Miami Lakes, demonstrates the Hip Flexor Stretch.
Photos by Megan Jacobo, The Miami Laker.