“My ‘hip flexors’ are sooo tight.” You’ve heard that, right? Maybe you’ve said it? But what exactly does that mean? How do you even know if you’re stretching the right muscles?
The hip flexors are a bunch of muscles that work together to lift the leg toward your torso. They literally flex the hips.
Tightness in these muscles will prevent the leg from going into extension and tip the pelvis forward. If you want a square front split, it’s important to understand which hip flexors are holding you back.
In this video, I’ll discuss the main culprits: the psoas, the rectus femoris, and the TFL. I’ll give you a way to self test these muscles to know where your tightness lies.
What to do with all you newfound knowledge?
1) Inhibit – Foam roll or peanut the muscle
2) Lengthen – Stretch the muscle
3) Activate – Either strengthen the muscle (if its weak) or strengthen the opposing muscle (if it’s overworked)
4) Integrate – Use all of that range in an integrated way (e.g., penches or curtsy lunges)
Here’s one of my favorite exercises to improve active shoulder flexion while in end-range thoracic extension. Cat Scratchers are great for Mexican handstands!
You can use a band, strap, or block between your elbows to encourage engagement through your arms.
1️⃣ Face the wall seated on your heels with your knees touching it. (If this exercise feels easy, just move your knees progressively away from the wall.
2️⃣ Bring your hands and rest them on the wall, palms facing each other, elbows straight.
3️⃣ Elevate your shoulders and externally rotate, wrapping your scapula around your armpits (like in a handstand).
4️⃣ Press your hands into the wall and start to slide them overhead. Look between your hands and lift your sternum while drawing your sits bones back in opposition. Stop when your sternum rests on the wall. (If you cannot reach the wall, lift your butt off of your heels just enough so you can without changing the position of your pelvis.)
5️⃣ Continue to wrap around the armpits and lift your arms off of the wall for 5-10 pulses. (If you cannot lift off of the wall, lift your butt off of your heels just enough so you can without changing the position of your pelvis.)
6️⃣ (Slide back down the wall if you have slid up.) Curl the pelvis and ripple to the spine to return to your start position.
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