The “Real” vs. “BS” Hip Flexor Stretch

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I for one fall into the camp that static stretching is often over-prescribed; an easy default recommendation for some fitness professionals too lazy to dig a little deeper.

“Tight” hamstrings? Go stretch those bad boys.

“Tight” hip flexors? Better go stretch!

Bad hair day? Go stretch.

I don’t feel static stretching is a complete waste of time mind you. Sometimes (<– key word, sometimes) it plays a crucial role in helping people get out of pain and addressing varying muscular imbalances or postural issues.

That said, in my experience I find many people barking up the wrong tree, treating an instability issue (protective tension) with static stretching.

And even if static stretching is deemed necessary, none of this takes into account the most important – albeit most overlooked – detail.

Performing it correctly.

Take the hip flexors for example. Everyone loves stretching their hip flexors. Weeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Thing is: you’ll rarely see someone do it right. Instead, despite endless efforts – sometimes to the tune of weeks, months, and years of “stretching” – nothing ever changes.

Many people will still point to the same area that feels “tight.”

I’m by no means the first person to point this out: guys like Mike Reinold, Mike Robertson, Dr. Evan Osar, and Optimus Prime have been pointing this out for years. So lets take a look at how to properly stretch the hip flexors, shall we?

“Real vs. “BS” Hip Flexor Stretch

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  • Don

    This was helpful, thanks!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Glad I was able to help.

  • Mariscsák Balázs

    “…and blowing through the anterior hip capsule” that’s exactly what I’ve felt by now, it’s clear that I’ve been doing it wrong. Thanks for pointing this out!

    • TonyGentilcore

      You may very well not even need to stretch. If the area is unstable, everything is going to fire (feel tight) in order to attempt to provide stability.

      Give my “Stretch the Tight” post a read.

  • Lisa

    OMG! I have been teaching and using the BS-Hip-Flexor-Stretch for YEARS! Thank you for this!!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Glad it provided an ah-HA moment for your Lisa. Trust me: we’ve all been there. The BS approach was how I “stretched” the hip flexors back in the day too.

  • Good stuff, Tony. Thinking of it more as a “re-positioning” tool for the pelvis versus a stretch seems to help out a lot. By the way, stretching did cure a bad hair day for me once…it does serve some purpose.

    • TonyGentilcore

      That’s a GREAT way of putting it Joe…..a “re-positioning.” That’s more or less what it is. Placing the pelvis in more PPT places the hip flexor on actual stretch.

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  • Esther

    This made me chuckle. I regularly include low lunges when teaching yoga and always – without fail – need to point out pelvic positioning to my students. They all seem to want to hang out in anterior pelvic tilt and lumbar extension to “go deeper”. Hurts me just watching! I particularly focus on this in prenatal classes where I am really keen to look after their lower backs, but have noticed it as a general trend in people. Nice work drawing attention to this 🙂

    • TonyGentilcore

      This was refreshing to hear Esther – VERY happy to hear that you hold your yoga students to a high standard and that you actually coach them and position them into better positions. I wish more instructors followed your lead.

      • Esther

        Yoga is more than just exercise, but to teach the poses safely we still need to understand anatomy and body mechanics. Sadly there are plenty of yoga teachers that don’t have much understanding of these concepts (I have heard teachers say that a forward fold stretches your hip flexors…). I was fortunate to study at a studio that is very keen on safe alignment and consideration for different people’s anatomy. Looking forward to reading more of your posts, totally new to your page. 🙂

        • TonyGentilcore

          Couldn’t agree more Esther (admittedly, I’ve only been to a handful of yoga classes). Very happy that you randomly stopped by, and hope you stay around.

          I’d like to introduce you to Dana Santas. She’s a yoga instructor I interact quite a bit with and someone I respect a lot because she’s very much on par with you: http://www.radiusyoga.com/aboutdana/

  • Rachel

    Nice shirt! 😀

    • TonyGentilcore

      All about the marketing, right?……;o)

  • linda

    I’m supposed to be stretching for a bad hair day? If only I’d known! heh. May give this a try (are my hip flexors tight?…hmmmm, guess I’ll see)

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  • Lass Lassiter III

    TG, keep doing what you do. The mere fact that you actually engage and respond to those who take the time to read and apply your knowledge says a lot about your character!

    • TonyGentilcore

      “That’ll be $19.99 for me to respond to your question/comment.”…….;o) In all seriousness, thank you for the kind words. I try not to be a douche.

      • Lass Lassiter III

        Peace.

  • Shane Mclean

    You’re rocking your T- Shirt mate, looking good Tony. Congrats on making the articles of the week.

    • TonyGentilcore

      It’s all about the marketing! Thanks for the props Shane, as always.

      • Shane Mclean

        You’re welcome.

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  • Trevor Dougan

    Awesome love the adjustments to get a much better stretch, will definitely be trying this out. Thanks.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Glad it was useful to you Trevor.

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  • Jarrod

    Hi Tony
    Great video first and foremost live the cues etc. What if I set a client up in the exact “real” position that you demonstrated, tilt the hips forward and there glutes were tight however they never felt there hop flexors stretch unless they did a “bullshit” hip flexor stretch would you try elevating the rear foot on a bench or step?

    Look forward to hearing your answer.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Then they probably don’t need to stretch their hip flexors….;o)

      You could try elevating the foot to make it more of a bi-articular stretch.

  • Esterina

    Great video! This is very useful. Also, your t-shirt is KILLER! 🙂

  • Chris Chippendale

    Hi Tony, another great vid! What’s your opinion on Stuart McGill’s variation, where you also raise the ipselateral arm and flex the trunk away from the stretch? He says this targets the psoas more specifically. I certainly find it intensifies the stretch further

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