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Help For Your Hip Flexors

We made it to another Workout Wednesday!

Photo by Leslie Hassler

For this week’s post, I wanted to concentrate on an area of training that should be a key component in everyone’s exercise regimen regardless of his or her fitness level. Unfortunately, it’s also an area that’s often tossed aside thanks to time constraints. I’m talking about flexibility training.

Whether you clock countless hours each week sitting at a desk, commuting or shuttling the kids around town, chances are you suffer from an all-too common problem for modern-day Americans: bad posture. This matched with an ever-increasing sedentary lifestyle make a recipe for disaster and makes flexibility training more important than ever. It’s one of the easiest ways to decrease muscle imbalances, joint dysfunction and overuse injuries.

While I can’t assess how your body moves via this post, I can tell you about one of my biggest “problem areas.” When I’m not “out in the field” producing shoots, I spend way too much time sitting in front of my computer. Since I’m almost always on deadline, I tend to lose track of just how long I sit there. These extended periods of sitting unfortunately cause tightening of my hip flexors, which are made up of five muscles including the psoas.

The good news is it’s not hard to find relief for those tight hip flexors. In my latest video (from the LauraDLovesFitness YouTube channel), I offer an easy stretching solution to this common problem area:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pygoAAbyQE8&feature=youtu.be

So what happens if I I don’t take the time to stretch my hip flexors and just get right into the “heart” of a workout?  There are plenty of terms in exercise science to describe the problematic results, including altered reciprocal inhibition, synergistic dominance and arthrokinetic dysfunction. Here’s what those problems look like when it comes to performing one of the most popular exercises known to man: the squat. If I repeatedly perform squats with a tight psoas, the “wrong” muscles end up doing the work. The gluteus maximus should be the prime mover, but tight hips flexors inhibit the gluteus maximus from doing its job and getting strong. Instead, the workload gets picked up by the “B team:” the hamstrings and erector spinae. Not only does this make the butt-kicking exercise pretty much ineffective for actually toning my butt, but I’m also putting myself at risk for low back pain and potential injury.

The bottom line is this: if I had a time machine and could fix some of the fitness mistakes I made in my younger days, I’d try to make up for some of the lost time I didn’t spend on stretching. Making flexibility training a part of your daily routine is truly one of the best things you can do to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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