Imagine not being able to climb stairs, bend over, or even walk. All these actions are pretty essential for daily activities. But that’s what our bodies would be like without our hip flexor muscles.
I would like to share why they’re so important and how your desk job might be making them weaker and the best ways to stretch them out.
Located deep in the front of the hip and connecting the leg, pelvis, and abdomen, the hip flexors flex the hip. But despite being some of the most powerful muscles in our bodies, it’s easy to neglect and often without even knowing it.
It turns out just working at a desk all day can really weaken hip flexors since they tend to shorten up while in a seated position. This tightness disrupts good posture and is a common cause of lower back pain. Weakened hip flexors can also increase the risk of foot, ankle, and knee injuries. So be sure to get up, stand up every hour or so!
And giving the hip flexors some extra attention is not just about injury prevention. Adding power to workouts, working toward greater flexibility, and getting speedier while running is also, as they say, all in the hips.
The hip flexors can still be a tricky part of the body to stretch. To get them even stronger and more flexible, try these four simple hip flexor stretches:
1. Take a knee. For the kneeling hip flexor stretch, kneel on the right knee with toes down and left foot in front (knee bent and aligned with the ankle at 90-degrees). Place hands on left thigh and press hips forward until there’s tension in the front right hip. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.
2. Prepare for liftoff. Lie on back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Contract abs to flatten lower back to the floor. Exhale and lift hips off the floor (press heels to floor for added stability). Inhale, lower to starting position, and repeat.
3. Hug it out. Start the supine hip flexor stretch the same as the glute bridge, but keep the right leg relaxed on the floor. Pull shoulder blades down and back to lift hips. Grab the back thigh of the left leg and pull the knee toward the chest. Keep the right leg straight and push its heel into the floor (to feel it in the butt). Hold for 30-45 seconds and switch legs.
4. Just swing it. For the front-to-back hip swing stretch, lie on the left side with hips stacked, propped up on the left elbow. Bend the left leg to a 90-degree angle and raise the right leg to hip level with toes pointed. Keep abs tight and swing the right leg all the way in front, then swing it all the way to the back, squeezing the booty along the way. Switch sides.
Simple shoulder stretches will relieve tension and can fix lingering or chronic shoulder pain. The benefit you gain from doing these stretches regularly can be immense. The exercises are gentle enough to use even if you are currently in severe pain.
Release shoulder and neck tension: Stand tall and slide your left hand down the left side of your body. Raise your right shoulder as your left lowers. Hold this for 10 seconds then stand straight again. Now slide your right hand down the right side of your body. Raise your left shoulder as your right lowers. Hold this for 10 seconds then stand tall.
Loosen upper arm and chest muscles: Interlock the fingers with palms out. Extend arms above head, keeping fingers locked. Stretch upwards and hold for 10 seconds.
Loosen back muscles: Cross arms in front of chest and place hands around shoulders, giving yourself a big hug. Slowly stretch hands towards middle of back as far as possible. Hold for 10 seconds.
Loosen chest, top of shoulder and lower arm muscles: Bend one arm over head and down back, bend other arm around and up back. Grasp finger tips and hold for 10 seconds, then reverse arm positions and hold for 10 seconds. Keep backbone vertical during this exercise.
Stretch chest and shoulder muscles (often called the swimmers stretch): In a seated position, clasp your hands together behind your back with your thumbs down, extend your arms behind you and slowly and gently pull your arms upward.
Stretch triceps: Raise your right hand over your head and bend elbow to place right hand behind your left shoulder. Press gently on your right elbow with you left hand. Hold for 20 seconds, then relax your arms. Raise your left hand over your head and bend elbow to place left hand behind your right shoulder. Press gently on your left elbow with you right hand. Hold for 20 seconds then relax.
Fatigue is an ailment that probably every person has experienced at one time or another. Although common, it is not always a cause for concern since it often goes away after some rest and relaxation. The problem is that fatigue can be a symptom of a disorder known as CFS or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. People who suffer from CFS frequently complain of extended periods of extreme fatigue with seemingly no perceivable cause or reason.
Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome include prolonged and unexplained feelings of tiredness, muscle and joint pain, headaches, sore throat, insomnia, painful lymph nodes, forgetfulness, and impaired mental functions. Although the disorder is experienced by both sexes, it is more common among women aged 40 to 50. To this day, there is no known cure for it, although symptoms can be treated.
Massage is one of the most recommended types of alternative therapies to treat the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It has proven beneficial and effective for some clients in minimizing anxiety and restlessness and in improving sleep quality. Massage is also a good option for clients with CFS who are not well enough to exercise because physical manipulations of the skin and muscles help promote good circulation.
Common massage technique used for the treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is deep tissue massage. This technique targets the muscle tissues, which are located several layers below the skin surface. Deep tissue massage utilizes increased pressure and slower movements in order to stimulate the capillaries found in the soft tissues. It is also very effective in improving blood circulation.
Probably one of the most elusive aspects of massage therapy when used to treat chronic fatigue is its intangible effect on the overall feeling of well-being of the client. When used with the right techniques, massage can be very helpful as means to treat the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and improve the physical and mental state of the client.