We live in a culture where sitting is the norm and with all of this sitting comes issues with tight hip flexors because they maintain a bent/flexed position all day. When your hip flexors are tight it can impact the position of the pelvis. This can lead to lower back pain, muscle imbalances, tight hamstrings and more. And while everyone can benefit from stretching their hip flexors, it's especially important for runners. Think about the position you're in when you run...you're repetitively drawing your knees up towards your chest and contracting the hip flexor muscle.
The stretch I am sharing with you today is called the Couch Stretch and it's extremely effective in improving mobility in the hip flexors and stretching the quadriceps. I am offering three variations that increase in difficulty. I am demonstrating the stretch against a wall but you can also place the foot on a chair or any other elevated surface you have like a box, coffee table or bench.
To get into the Couch Stretch you place the knee against a wall with the foot pointing straight up. One of the biggest faults seen in this stretch is not bringing the knee against the wall. I definitely recommend using a padded surface underneath the knee to provide cushion.
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In the first variation you will just kneel on the opposite knee as you hold the stretch.
If you feel pretty good in the first variation you can deepen the stretch by coming into a low lunge position with the front leg.
And finally, the most intense variation is to bring the back to the wall while maintaining and upright position. While you're in this position keep your core engaged and try pull the low back towards the wall to make sure you're getting maximum stretch. You will really feel this one but breathe through it as you hold.
The Couch Stretch is great for post-run recovery. Try to hang out in it for a few minutes on each side. With regular practice you should notice improved mobility in your hip flexors and less tightness in the quads, low back and hamstrings.
Jen DeCurtins is the content manager for Run Charlotte Run. She is a certified personal trainer, 200-hour registered yoga teacher, CrossFit coach and food and fitness blogger.