Tight Hip Flexors

If you spend a lot of time in a seated position (i.e desk job/driving) then it’s quite likely that you will have tight hip flexors.

These are the muscles responsible for bending at the thigh/hip. So if you are constantly sat with your hips bent these muscles will constantly be in a contracted and shortened position, so of course they will be tight!

I would recommend taking regular breaks and having a walk around and a stretch in an attempt to remedy this tightness, along with a regular massage of course!

The bottom picture below shows what a hip flexor stretch looks like.

In the top picture the models knee is line with her hip. If you have extremely tight hip flexors you may feel some stretch in this position, but as this is the position your hips would be in when you are standing you probably won’t be stretching your hip flexors very much.

It may remind you of the more commonly seen quad stretch, which is similar, but done in a standing position.

Only one of the quadriceps muscles crosses the hip joint (the rectus femoris) and this is why simply doing a quad stretch won’t quite target the correct area.

If you really want to target the hip flexors you must move your hip in front of your knee. This then takes your hips into extension, which is the position to best feel the stretch.

You can deepen this by lunging forward onto your front leg, pushing your hips forward and leaning backwards (from the hips) slightly. You can also intensify this by squeezing your bum muscles (gluteals).

Your gluteals are functionally opposite to your hip flexors and when one muscle contracts the opposing muscle must relax. This is called reciprocal inhibition.

If you would like further information regarding stretches I can provide this as part of the aftercare you receive at the end of a massage treatment.

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Levator Scapulae Stretch

This is one of my favourite stretches!

It targets the levator scapulae muscle; which is one of the muscles involved in elevating your shoulder blade. A lot of people have tension in this muscle so it’s great to stretch it out throughout the day.
If you put your ear towards your shoulder you should feel a stretch down the opposite side of your neck, that is your upper trapezius. Now if you turn your head so your nose goes towards your shoulder, the stretch will move backwards to your levator scapulae.
I think it feels great, try it out and let me know what you think!

Levator Scapulae & Stretch

Core Strength

I believe that a strong core is essential to protect yourself against injuries, improve your posture, reduce back pain and to protect your vital internal organs and your central nervous system. It also creates a slimmer waistline as well, which is something I’m sure most of us wouldn’t complain about!

Your core muscles include all of the abdominals, all of the muscles in the hips and all of the muscles that run up and down the back. There are lots of difference exercises to help with increasing core strength; including the plank!

Core-Strength-1

There are also many variations to the plank, so if this version gets to easy you can always mix it up to increase the difficulty and challenge your body further. Variations can include lifting one foot or one hand off the floor, or one foot AND one hand at the same time, you can elevate your feet, elevate your feet onto an unsteady surface, such as an exercise ball, you can even try a side plank.

sideplank

And again, this also has many variations, including lifting the top leg, going higher on your supporting arm, elevating your feet, elevating your feet on an unsteady surface, such as a suspension trainer (a great piece of equipment!).

These plank variations are great for challenging your core muscles and therefore increasing the strength of them. You can also try adding in dynamic variations, which include doing a movement for a set number of repetitions whilst in the plank position.

A great way to start off is to try and hold a plank for 30 seconds. If you need to take a break in the middle then do so. Keep your abs tight and your spine long, make sure your body is in line, keep your head down and don’t let your bottom stick up in the air. If you feel any back pain at all then come out of it. If you can manage to hold it for 30 seconds then take a short break and do another 30 seconds.

So in less then 2 minutes per day, 2 or 3 times per week, you’ll be on the right path to a stronger core, which will help your body no end with your day to day tasks, every day things such as lifting something, pulling, pushing, sitting up, walking taller. There are no ends to the benefits of a stronger core!

If you have existing injuries or medical conditions then please seek medical advice before trying any new workouts or exercises.