Running is one of the best ways to stay in shape, but it also takes a toll on your hips. Tight hip flexors can lead to all sorts of problems such as runner's knee and back pain. In this article, we will discuss how you can release tension from your hip flexors through some simple stretches that runners can do before or after their run.
10 Hip Stretches for Runners
Start by standing up straight with your feet hip-width apart. Then, step one foot forward and lower down into a lunge position making sure to keep the front knee at 90 degrees from the ground. The front toes should be pointing directly ahead or slightly outwards depending on your level of flexibility. If you feel tension in your hips make sure to drop the back knee down towards the ground. Hold this position for 30 seconds before switching legs.
The pigeon pose is a great hip opener that can be done both before and after your run. Start by getting into a low lunge position with your right foot in front of your left. Then, slowly slide your right foot over toward your left side making sure to keep both of your hips squared forward.
Happy Baby Pose
The happy baby pose is a great way to open up your hips and groin. Start by lying on your back on the ground. Bring your knees up towards your chest and grab onto the insides of your feet or ankles. Gently pull your knees in towards your chest while keeping your lower back pressed into the ground. Hold this position for 30 seconds before releasing.
Bound Angle Pose
Start by sitting on the ground with your feet together, then slowly fold yourself forward while keeping your back straight. Grab onto to both of your feet to keep them sliding outwards. You may use your elbows to push your knees down. Once you reach your maximum stretch, hold this position for 30 seconds before releasing.
Assisted Quad Stretch
The assisted quad stretch is a great way to open up your hips and quads before you run. Start by standing up straight with one hand on a wall for balance. Bring one foot to your butt and hold it there with your hand. Actively flex the quad muscle and work to bring your heel to your better. You should stand straight up and work to keep your leg square.
Start by standing in the middle of your mat with feet hip-width apart. Turn your toes outwards and squat down while keeping your back straight. Once you reach your lowest point, bring your hands together in front of your chest and press down into your palms.
Head to Knee Pose
Start by sitting on the ground with both legs straight out in front of you. Bend your left knee and place your left foot next to the inside of your right quad. Reach for your toes with your right hand while keeping your back straight. Gently pull down on your toes until you feel a stretch in the hamstring muscle. Hold this position for 30 seconds
Seated Forward Bend Pose
Start by sitting on the ground with both legs straight out in front of you spread apart. Reach for your toes with both hands and slowly fold yourself forward. Once you reach your maximum stretch, hold this position for 30 seconds before releasing.
Supine Pigeon Pose
Start by lying on your back with both legs straight out in front of you. Bend one knee and bring the heel up towards the outside of your hip while keeping it hip-width apart from your other leg. Then, place that foot down at a 90 degree angle next to the inside of your other leg right ankle bone. Reach in between the gap between your legs and pull on the hamstring until you feel a stretch in the outer hip.
Start in a kneeling position with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on your lower back and push your midsection forward. Gently arch backwards and allow your head and upper body to fall backwards. You should feel a stretch through the front of your body, specifically in the abs and hip flexors.
6 Common Causes of Tight Hips
When you exercise, your muscles become tight and shortened. This can be especially true for runners who naturally rely more on the hip flexors for power. If this becomes a habit, these shortened muscle fibers can lead to all sorts of issues such as runner's knee and back pain.
Sitting for long periods of time
Sitting for long periods of time is another common cause of tight hips. When you sit, the hip flexors are constantly in a shortened position which can lead to tension and stiffness.
Lack of stretching/yoga
Another common culprit of tight hips is a lack of stretching or other exercises that help to lengthen the muscle. When you don't stretch, the muscles become shortened and tighter over time. This can be especially true if you sit at a desk all day or do a lot of weightlifting. Stretching, along with practices such as yoga, help to increase blood flow to the muscles and promote recovery.
Hip flexor injury
If you have a hip flexor injury, it's important to take some time off from running until the injury heals. However, that doesn't mean you can't do any other exercises. There are plenty of stretches and poses that can help open up your hips without putting too much stress on the injured area.
During pregnancy, the body goes through many changes including a redistribution of weight and an increase in hormones. All of these factors can lead to tight hips and hamstrings. It's important to make sure you're stretching and doing exercises that help open up your hip flexors during pregnancy in order to avoid future injuries like sciatica pain or sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
Poor posture is another common cause of tightness in the hips. When you slouch, the muscles in the upper back and neck become tight, which can lead to tension in the hips. Recall that everything in your body is connected and when one muscle becomes too tight, it often needs other muscles to help compensate.
When to See a Doctor
If you experience regular tension or pain in your hips, you will want to consult your doctor. This pain could be the result of a more serious chronic or underlying issue. Lack of stretching or other underlying issues can result in the several conditions below that can become chronic or more serious if left untreated.
Runner's Knee Pain or Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis
Stretching is a great way to counteract tight muscles that have been caused by overuse, sitting or slouching too much, etc. These muscles will eventually become too tight and be susceptible to injury. For your hips, hamstrings, and other parts of your body to function properly, you need to make sure you stretch regularly. Proper blood flow as a result of stretching, will help to promote muscle recovery and keep your running longer, faster, and injury-free.