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Self Care – Kneeling Stretch for Hip Flexors

This is one of the classic stretches for hip flexors, and for good reasons. It gives you lots of control and allows you to be very specific.

Most people think of Iliopsoas as the hip flexor. Hip flexor muscles include:

  • Iliopsoas
    • Psoas Major
    • Iliacus
  • Rectus Femoris
  • Tensor Fascia Lata
  • Sartorius
  • Gluteus medius (anterior section)

This stretch helps with chronic tightness in all of those muscles

As usual, I recommend this stretch using the AIS guidelines or Ice-and-Stretch.

If you are not using ice, do 10-20 gentle reps. If you’re using Ice-and-Stretch this usually releases nicely in 4-5 reps.

Starting position

Kneel on one knee.

Some people use a pillow under the knee that touches the floor because they find this hurts the knee. It really isn’t the pressure. I know you don’t believe that. It’s the trigger point in the rectus femoris muscle. You can use the pillow if you like. If you’d like some relief, rub a little ice or IcyHot on the middle of your thigh, just below the fold of the hip. You probably get relief in the knee.

Make sure that you hip, pelvis and knee are all stacked in a straight line.

Use a stationary object, like the chair in this picture, to stabilize your shoulders. Extend your arm so that the elbow is straight. You can use this as a reminder to keep your shoulders back.

Ease your front thigh forward like a piston until you feel tension. Most people feel it in the thigh of the leg that is kneeling.

Pay attention to your shoulders. You need to keep your shoulders back so that the hip extends. Otherwise, you are just leaning forward, I’ve shown this stretch to people for more than 20 years and almost everybody leans forward and has to be reminded to keep their shoulders back.

If you use ice-and-stretch, it will release more quickly and reduce the discomfort, especially in the back. Stroke ice on the front of the abdomen on the side that is kneeling. You can also use a topical cream like IcyHot.

Most people feel the trigger point referral of iliopsoas as pain/tension extends down into the thigh. Some get pain in their back or other referral patterns in the back or thigh.

If you have sharp pain across the top of your pelvis, Use a more gentle psoas stretch like Upward Dog or Bridges.

This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began improving the format. We are also adding more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We appreciate your input and feedback. You will see us adding posts and updating older posts as time permits.

Weekly Featured Post

This post shows you how to press out the trigger points and stretch the infraspinatus muscle. It’s a small muscle on the back of the shoulder but creates a number of problems, including:

  • shoulder pain when sleeping
  • loss of grip strength
  • upper neck pain
  • pain along the inside edge of the shoulder blade

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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