Updated: Feb 21, 2019
Let's discuss Facilitated Stretching and how it can help open tight hip flexors. Here is a post on the basics of Facilitated Stretching. You really should read this to understand PNF.
Posts in this Series on Hip Flexors
Tight Hip Flexors
Tight Hip Flexors (Basic Stretching)
Tight Hip Flexors (Myofascial Release)
Tight Hip Flexors (Facilitated Stretching)
Tight Hip Flexors ( Weak Glutes and Hip Flexors)
Here is a past post on other Auxillary Hip Flexor Stretches.
Facilitated stretching is one form of PNF (proprioceptive nueromuscular facilitation), it means assisted stretching. PNF is a very advanced technique and it is wise to train with someone who is trained and certified and might possibly be a physical therapist. You can however work with some self-assisted versions of facilitated stretches. There are two types of PNF, PNF Hold-Relax and PNF Contract-Relax; we are going to focus on CR.
Contract-Relax means finding the range of motion for an area, backing off slightly, then contracting and resisting yourself, or a strap or a block. This resitance contraction is usually held 6 seconds, then released and you gently tries to work the limb into a deeper range of motion. This is repeated until the muscle has released to a safe maximum. By contracting we trigger the Golgi tendon organ in the muscle and this helps the muscle release. PNF was developed by physical therapists and you can find workshops and trainings in PNF.
Here are a few stretches that you can do on yourself to activate and release the hip flexors and the hip flexor area.
Hip Flexion Contract and Release
Begin on your back with the feet on the floor, knees bent. Lift the tight hip flexor leg up in flexion. Press and contract the leg up into the hands as the hands resist and push back.
Hold six to eight seconds and release the leg out straight. Wait a few moments and try again. You may feel the hip flexor activating during the flexion/contraction moment. Slowly work the leg up toward the head with each interval.
Hip Flexor Contract and Release
Hands on Shins
Begin on your back, knees tucked up. Press the shins into the hands and resist back with the hands. Hold six to eight seconds and release and let the hips drop side to side. Try again after a brief rest. This movement can help unlock muscles around the hip flexor.
Begin on your back, knees tucked up. Place the hands on the outside upper thigh, just above the knee. Crossing the arms can help with resistance. Press the legs outward activating the inner thighs (adductors) resist with the hands. Hold six to eight seconds and release and let the hips drop side to side. Try this three times.
Begin on your back, knees tucked up. Place the hands on the inside upper thigh, just above the knee. Crossing the arms can help with resistance. Press the legs inward activating the outer thighs (abductors) and resist with the hands. Hold six to eight seconds and release and let the hips drop side to side. Try this three times.