Today I’d like to talk about the vital importance of deep stretches for people these days. Specifically stretches centered around the hip flexors.
Modern people sit, drive, and are online a lot. This leads to a hunched over posture and the hips in a chronically flexed position. This is not big deal, except when you go to stand up, run, or lift weights your tight hips will be pulling on your back!
The hip flexors attach up into the lower-back. Take the Psoas muscle for example. It attaches to the pelvis and femur, and then ties right into the lumbar vertebrae!
In normal language, this means that if your hips are really tight, you are probably going to experience tightness or low back pain. Stretching the hip flexors is the number one thing you can do to improve your performance and decrease tension on the low back.
Here are some examples of excellent corrective stretches for the hip flexors. My personal favorite is by far the Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch (See Image Below).
Perform this stretch for 1-2 minutes on each side. It is a great way to stretch the hips out in preparation for an intense workout or run.
Another great stretch to hit before you run or workout is the calves. Most people have super tight calves, from wearing shoes with an excessive heel, running a bunch, or even just working out makes the calves very tight! Try this simple calve stretch or foam roll them (See images below)
Any good exercise routine has corrective stretching and mobilization techniques such as foam rolling programmed into it to prevent injury and improve range of motion. I recommend spending a good 10 minutes or so before you begin really getting into your workout doing deep stretches on areas of your body that you know are very tight. This will ensure proper range of motion throughout your workout and increased strength, and you will experience much less tension.
Try performing yogi like stretches centered around the hips for at least 20-30minutes per day, and you will experience a great reduction in back pain and tension. It is highly recommended to deeply stretch before a workout or walk, or before you go to bed. Stretching before exercise will help you to have a more proper and centered alignment, thus keeping your spine and body more centered or “neutral”. If you stretch deeply before bed you get the benefits of unwinding tension before you try to go to sleep, which will have an extra benefit because you’ll get more high quality rest!
And remember, if you’d like to get more professional advice on how to safely and correctly perform these stretches, consider Personal Training 😉