One of the last things anyone wants in an injury, especially in an area that primarily controls movement. The hip flexor muscle group is much longer than most people give them credit for, ranging from the bottom of the rib cage to your femur. They control leg movement. Therefore, the hip flexor muscle group should not be ignored by anyone whose focus is triathlons or running. Here are the best exercises and stretches to make sure your hip flexors are in the best shape.
Kettle Bell Swing
For this exercise you will need a kettle bell. To get proper placement for the kettle bell do a squat. While in the squatting position place the kettle bell in-between your feet and slightly in front of you so you have to reach a little for the kettle bell. Grab the kettle bell and swing it in-between your legs, and with that momentum swing the kettle bell up in front of you while you stand up straight. Make sure you maintain proper form to not injure yourself. Place the bell down without rounding your spine and repeat.
This is a yoga pose that will help stretch out your hip flexors. Start by placing your left leg in front and sink into a lunge position, while stretching your right leg back. Your right knee and the top of your right foot should be touching the ground. Make sure your lower left leg is straight and you are not leaning forward. Keep your spine straight and focus on breathing. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds and then switch legs.
Pretty self-explanatory, but high knees are great for training your body to run with good form. Stand up straight and then raise your left leg as high as possible, place it back down and raise your right leg as high as possible. Go as fast as your can while maintaining a straight spine to help increase endurance in your hip flexors.
Hip Flexor Resistance
Tie your resistance band to an object low to the ground and sturdy, like a bench or a pole. You will need to have a loop in your resistance band that fits your foot. Place your left foot in the resistance band. Stand to the side of the object you tied the resistance band to, so your right side is next to the object and your left side is away. You may need to side step away from the object to get resistance. Lift your left leg slightly off the ground while moving it towards the left. Hold for a second and then bring your leg back down. Repeat on your left leg and then switch legs to even out your workout.
I find this stretch absolutely dreadful, but it does stretch out your hip flexors incredibly well so I have to suck it up. Lie on the ground with your stomach touching the floor. Place your arms in front of you in a position they are comfortable. Spread your legs and then touch the bottoms of your feet together. Your legs will look like a diamond shape. Focus on pushing your knees into the ground to feel the stretch in your hip area. Don’t worry if your feet don’t touch the ground, as long as your legs are spread and the bottoms of your feet are completely touching you should feel the stretch.
The Psoas is a muscle that is deep in your hip flexor muscle group. During your runs this is the muscle that focuses on your stride. Stand straight with your hands at your side. Slowly lift your right leg while bending your right knee. Your right thigh should be parallel to the ground and your knee should be bent 90 degrees. Hold this position and then repeat on your left leg.
Lie on your back on the ground with your hands palm down and your legs in a comfortable neutral position. Slowly raise and bend your right leg and bring it to your chest. Wrap your hands around your right knee and pull your leg close to you. Then gently place your right leg down and switch sides.
Hopefully your hip flexors are in tiptop shape and stretched out. Strengthening your hip flexors will help improve your performance by increasing your stride and controlling your leg movement.