PNF Hip Flexor Stretch

What I want to do is show you guys how to do a hip flexor stretch. I’m a big advocate of PNF stretching, which is Proprioceptive Neuro Facilitation, which is why we call it PNF, it’s a lot easier to say, but it’s a way to stretch more effectively and more efficiently and get more out of it.

What we want to do is take you through a hip flexor stretch. The body is designed to be upright, and we spend a ton of time in a folded position, in a chair position. And what happens when we do that in the hip joint and in the knee joint, we are shortened, so that tends to tighten our hip flexors and our hamstrings. And so, if we’re going for a stretch that’s going to get the most benefit from those, especially to take the pressure off the back, we want to actually do the hip flexor stretch. So it’s one of the most important stretches you can do for any kind of back tension or back pain.

What we’re doing is what I call a lunge stretch. And I have Mary Faith, she’s down on one knee. And the rules that I layout for this is that the front knee never passes the instep of the foot, and so we want that knee to always stay behind that instep. We want her hips to be perpendicular to that front leg. When she’s trying to stretch, we don’t want her rotating like that. So we want to make sure she’s moving forward, but the hips stay perpendicular to that front leg. The side that we’re stretching is this right side, the side where the knee is down. And then, last but not least, we want to keep the shoulders in alignment with the hips as she moves forward. We want to avoid bending forward. Go ahead and bend forward for me. We want to avoid bending forward to move forward.

Now, what’s really important is muscles are a bundle of rubber bands. Most people, what they’ll do when they try to stretch, especially on this one, is they’ll just dive into it, they’ll lunge into it. And when they do that, they’re discounting all the tension or any tension they feel, and they’re actually stretching the hip joint, not the hip flexors. And the hip flexors are a really long muscle; they go from the inside of the groin, all the way up to the lumbar spine, and they actually extend almost all the way to the diaphragm, or they actually connect into the diaphragm. And so, this is a really important stretch. When you’re doing all stretches, you need to make sure you’re breathing, but this is really critical because if you’re shallow breathing or holding your breath while you do it, you just won’t get the quality stretch out of it.

This is how we’ll do it. I’m going to ask you, Mary Faith, to move your hips forward until you feel any tightness in either the groin or into that right thigh. And when you get there, when you feel it tighten up, you stop. On a PNF stretch, you want to stretch for a 10-count, hold that for a nice 10-count, and then at the end of that 10-count, you want to contract that same butt cheek. I call it, create a butt of steel in that right side. So squeeze that cheek on the right side for three, two, one, relax that cheek. Relax the body, allow it to relax, and then move your hips forward again until you feel that tension again in the groin or the thigh. And then once you get there, you stop, hold it for a 10-count. Make sure you’re breathing into that diaphragm. You’re doing a really good job on your shoulders and not lunging, that’s really, really good.

Okay. Do you remember what you’re going to do next? You’re going to squeeze that right bun, buns of steel, for three, two, one, and then you’ll relax it again. And then slowly move into the last stretch on that side. Good. And just stop and hold it as soon as you feel it. And most people learned how to do a stretch. Go ahead and come back into a neutral position. Most of us learned how to stretch when we’re kids in PE, recess, sports, whatever. And we stretch for about 10 seconds, and then we move into, we become adults and we want to do a better job of stretching, and then we’ll stretch for 30 seconds or even a minute.

The research shows that if you’re going to do a static stretch, this is a dynamic stretch, but if you’re going to do a static stretch, you actually have to hold that stretch for about eight minutes for it to be effective. And I’m not going to do it. I’m not asking anybody else to do it. So certainly, it’s not very effective. This is a way more effective stretch.

Then, what she would do after this is she would just switch legs. Very good. And bring this knee back just a little bit. A little bit more for me. There you go. And she would just repeat the stretch on the opposite side. If you have a side that tends to be tighter in the back or tighter in the groin, you want to do that stretch second. So if her left side is the side that tends to nag her and bother her more, we want to make sure we’re doing this side last because this right side is in a shortened position right now.

Thanks for joining us. We’re going to do some more stretches as well. Look for those stretches on our page. Thanks a lot.


PNF Calf Stretch Video:

PNF Glute Stretch Video:

PNF Hamstring Stretch Video:

PNF Side Glute Stretch Video:

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