Does it feel as if your running stride is shortened by stiffness in your hip muscles? Do you feel stiff and tight waking from the bed in the morning?
Tight hip flexors and glutes are common ailments among runners. Hip flexors lift the leg during the running stride. Over time, the contraction of the hip muscle is not equally offset with opposing lengthening or stretching activity. This tightness is compounded for many of us who spend much of the day sitting at work.
Fortunately, it is possible to loosen the hip and glute muscles through a series of exercises focused on elongating the muscles. Below are five exercises to add to your workout routine.
Before static stretching, warm-up the hip muscles. Stretch after running or do 10-20 leg circles and swings prior to stretching to loosen the muscles. Work towards holding each stretch for 30 seconds with 3 sets on each side.
Lay on your back with both legs flat on the ground. Keeping one leg on the ground, slowly bring your other knee to your chest by bending. Bring to the point of tightness (not pain) and hold for 30 seconds. You will feel the stretch in the front and side of your hip flexor. Repeat for the other leg.
Lay on your back with both legs bent and ankles pulled towards your bottom. Take the ankle of one leg and cross it over the knee of the opposite leg. Slowly push the crossed-leg knee down towards the ground. You will feel the stretch in the outside hip flexor and glute muscle. Hold for 30 second and then repeat on the other side.
Sit on the ground with your back straight. Flair your knees outwards as you bring the soles of your feet together. Keeping your feet together, pull your ankles close to your butt. Slowly press your knees towards the floor. You will feel the stretch in the inner groin muscle. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Kneel on the ground with one leg up and bent 90 degrees. Keeping your back straight, slowly shift your weight forward by bending the upright knee to a smaller angle. You will feel the stretch in the front hip flexor of the leg on the ground as it elongates with the weight pushing forward.
Here's a summary video of all the exercises listed.
Give this stretching routine a try for 14 days and see what benefits you can bring back to your running form with a longer and looser stride.
Best wishes chasing your running goals!