This intense hip flexor stretch is fabulous at getting deep into the hip flexors!
It allows you to relax your leg into the stretch and get a deep hip flexor stretch with a straight and relaxed leg. A lot of the most common hip flexor stretches require knee bending and weight on one knee in a kneeling position. If you have trouble having weight on your knee or having your knees overly bent, this option can be a great, knee-safe variation.
Key things to remember:
- You will need a foam roller or a yoga block.
- You MUST keep your abs in toward your spine and your tailbone/upper glutes dropped down away from your torso (like a rolling bridge). If you feel like your low back is straining, you are not holding your abs or keeping your low back long which actually tightens the hip flexors instead of allowing them to release. So, if you feel your low back, pull your abs in and release your upper glutes.
- Keep the hip flexors of the bent leg relaxed, especially if you bring that leg off the floor. To do this, it can be helpful to imagine that your hip flexors are attached to a string that pulls out through the quads and the top of the knee and that the string is always pulling away from your hip.
- Keep the chest, sternum and ribs relaxed. It can be helpful to imagine them falling down away from your shoulder and head to do that.
What makes this stretch so intense is the amount of space the leg goes behind the hips without the hips tilting backwards. There are modifications you can use to make this stretch less intense if needed. Most are mentioned in our video but one additional one which decreases this stretch dramatically would be to just place a small pillow or two under the hips instead of a roller. Another modified option would be to put the bent knee leg on chair or low table in a Pilates’ tabletop position (knee and hip at 90 degree angles). This would increase the stretch by bringing your foot off the floor but not require as much strength or flexibility in that leg and hip to keep that foot off the floor.
Looking for more hip stretches? Schedule your free 90 minute consultation.
This blog was contributed by our Pilates guru, Kaethe Birkner. Kaethe is a certified Pilates instructor through Balanced Body and dances ballet professionally at Continental Ballet Company. She has been teaching Pilates since 2012 and has been taking Pilates since 2004.