We've written about it here many times before: too much sitting will lead to hip and back pain.
Even if you're not experiencing pain (yet), tight hip flexor muscles are certainly limiting your athletic performance. Not to mention increasing your risk for injury.
But at least some sitting is unavoidable for most of us. That doesn't mean you have to just accept having tight hips and a sore back, though.
Instead, you can try using some of your couch time to your advantage. Let's take a look.
A Soothing Hip Stretch From Your Couch
It appears simple, but paying attention to certain details and nuances that will help you get more out of it. An article in California Strength sums it up nicely:
The Couch Stretch is a strong quad and hip flexor stretch that is familiar to many athletes. Instead of just jumping in, let’s first review and focus on a number of cues to help you take advantage of the full effects of this stretch. When done properly, the couch stretch is highly effective for lengthening the quadriceps and hip flexors, but with the variation below using a bench will provide a more intense stretch as well as an external stretch for the shoulders.
The article goes on to describe a way to perform the couch stretch using a workout bench. But you can feel free to modify using – you guessed it – your couch.
Here are further instructions:
- Begin the movement by coming down onto your knee while placing the top of your foot flat against the top of the bench. The knee should be in a straight line with the front edge of the bench.
- On the inhale, place your hands on the bench and press down with your front foot.
- On the exhale, press the knee into the ground while pressing your hip forward. Pressing the hip forward will engage the hip flexor stretch and intensify the quadricep stretch.
- On the inhale, place your hands on the bench, knuckles facing forward.
- On the exhale, push your hands into the bench while pulling your shoulders back (into external rotation). Think about pressing your shoulder blades together.
- With each exhale, deepen the quad stretch by pressing your hip and thigh forward.
If you want a visual demonstration, here is their accompanying video:
To modify this stretch for your couch instead of a bench, simply use your couch in the same way she uses the bench in the video above. We recommend getting a cushion to go under your resting leg in order to prevent knee pain.
Benefits of the Couch Hip Flexor Stretch
Stretches like this one help correct one of the most common imbalances in today's world: a tight anterior muscle chain.
Injury prevention guru Rick Kaselj has been preaching the importance of opening up your hip flexors, and even has a simple program for effectively stretching and mobilizing them (you can read more about it in our review). According to him, not only will you reduce injury risk and improve athletic performance, but you might experience decreased anxiety and even improved sexual performance.
With that in mind, there's no reason not to spend a couple minutes during your evening couch time working on opening up this critical muscle group.