How to Stretch the Hip Flexors and Psoas Muscles

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

man doing hip flexor stretch on beach
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Also Known As: Standing lunge stretch

Target: Hip flexors and psoas muscle

Level: Beginner

You can stretch your hip flexors and psoas muscles using variations of the popular lunge exercise. This basic stretch will help you loosen up and counteract the effects of sitting too much or tight hips from sports such as cycling.

Benefits

The hip flexors are the muscles that bring your torso and leg closer together. One of the hip flexors is the psoas muscle, which is found on each side of your body. It works to lift your thigh to your torso. Many people get tight hip flexors from sitting for long periods, as when at a desk, in a vehicle, or while watching television. Sports such as cycling can result in tight hip muscles, while snowboarding or skiing need better hip flexibility. Stretching helps to lengthen these muscles and provide better flexibility and range of motion.

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Watch Now: How to Stretch the Hip Flexors and Psoas Muscles

Step-by-Step Instructions

Prior to doing these stretches, warm up to avoid overstretching a cold muscle. Great ways to warm up include jumping jacks, skipping, side-stepping, running in place, or any dynamic movements that mimic whatever sport you do. But since these stretches are done with the lower half of your body, it's best to choose movements that will make the muscles in the groin and inner thigh areas warm and pliable.

  1. Stand in a split stance with your right front forward and your left foot straight back. Bend your right knee so that it is at about a 90-degree angle. This should put you into a forward lunge position. Place your hands on your forward knee.
  2. Press down with your hands and drive the hips forward until you feel a stretch from the front of your hip, groin, and thigh on your left side.
  3. Hold the stretch for about 20-30 seconds. Release and repeat on the other leg.

Common Mistakes

Just as you can get injured doing sports and activities, you can also hurt yourself while stretching if certain precautions are not taken.

Knee Position

Be sure to keep your forward knee over or behind your ankle and not in front of your ankle. You may also find your knees turning inward. This may be happening if you have weak hip or butt muscles.

Do Not Bounce

This can tug on tendons and muscle insertion points instead of what you want to do, which is lengthen the muscle. In addition, bouncing can create small tears in the muscle, and as they heal scar tissue forms which can make the muscle more stiff and less flexible. Basically, bouncing can lead to hypermobile joints and muscle imbalances. Instead, use slow, smooth movements when performing your stretch.

Do Not Press Down With Great Force

Just like bouncing, this can put unwanted pressure on the tendons, ligaments, and insertion points; thus making you more prone to injury or overstretching.

Do Not Hold Your Breath While Stretching

The breath can help you stretch deeper. Inhale as you rest and exhale as you initially do the work.

Modifications and Variations

The advanced version uses the knee in a dropped position:

  1. Begin in a forward lunge position, as described in step 1 above, and drop your back knee to the floor.
  2. Place your hands on the forward leg. If you feel that your balance is steady, raise your arms and hands up over your head and look up.
  3. Press your hips forward and down toward the floor. You should be able to feel a stretch through your torso, hip, groin, and thigh.
  4. Hold the stretch for about 20-30 seconds, release and repeat on the other leg.

Safety and Precautions

You should feel a good stretch but if you feel any pain, gently back out of the stretch.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones in these popular workouts:

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