A hip flexion stretch improves flexibility in the hips. The hip flexion stretch stretches the two hip flexors, the iliacus and psoas muscles, which connect the femur to the hip bones and lower back, respectively. The hip flexors help people bend their knees and bend at the waist. One way to do a hip flexion stretch is to bend at the knees and lean forward into a lunge. Some yoga poses also stretch the hip flexors.
The hip flexion stretch can reduce a person's risk of injuring herself when working out. Tight hip flexors can also cause a person to experience pain when going about her daily activities. If the psoas is tight, lower back pain or knee trouble is common. Tight hip flexors can cause the back to arch forward and can cause tightness in the hips.
A forward lunge may be the best hip flexion stretch. To do a lunge, a person should kneel down on her right or left knee. She should place her opposite leg in front of her, foot flat on the ground and knee bent at a 90-degree angle. To get the stretch, she should then lean slightly forward, supporting herself by placing her hands on the forward leg. The back needs to stay straight. If the stretch is done correctly, she will feel a stretch in the leg she is kneeling on. Her weight should be on the leg that is forward.
She should hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds and then switch sides to stretch the other hip flexor. Some people may wish to place a mat or folded towel underneath the knee on the ground for cushioning. As the flexor muscles loosen, a person can get an even deeper stretch by straightening the kneeling leg and stretching it behind her. She can also hold hand weights or a medicine ball in the air while doing the hip flexion stretch to improve her balance and get a deeper stretch.
Some yoga poses also work as hip flexion stretches. For example, the one-legged king pigeon pose stretches the hip flexors as well as the outer hip muscles. To do the pose, a person should start on his hands and knees. He should then slide the right leg behind him, straightening the leg until the thigh rests on the floor. The left leg should slide forward so that the knee is bent and the thigh and shin rest on the floor. He can rest on his left buttock and support himself by placing his palms on the floor.