Sitting for prolonged periods can make many people feel uncomfortable in the front of the hips (and often into the lower back). The muscles in this part of the body are grouped together to be known as the ‘hip flexor group’. The job of the hip flexors is to bring the thigh closer to the trunk- this might be an extreme range like a squat (or a high kick) to a less extreme position such as sitting in a chair.
All muscles in the body are designed to move between a contracted phase and a lengthened phase (even the heart). We are dynamic moving beings. When our muscles remain in one phase, some people can feel discomfort in the relevant area.
In the video below, Jo gives some tips to help alleviate the discomfort that prolonged sitting can often cause. It involves getting the pelvis moving to start as some of the hip flexor muscles attach to the pelvis. The movement of the pelvis provides an opportunity to create movement in the hip joint and also feels relieving to the lower back.
Once standing, it is important to feel fully supported by the standing leg. If the body feels strong, it is less inclined to hold on to the tension where we are trying to create stretch. You might notice your deep abdominal muscles also kick in when your standing leg is strong.
Avoid simply pulling at the knee joint. It is preferable to create a connection in the quads by pressing the foot/ankle into your hand and bend the elbow to create a deeper stretch. Jo mentions this in the video above.
We suggest holding the stretch for 10-30 seconds. Try to keep your breath flowing naturally as this will also encourage your muscles to release.
Beyond stretching, aim to to take regular breaks from your desk. When you go for a walk, aim to take a long stride and push off from the ball of your foot. This will encourage a lengthening through your hip flexors in a dynamic way. Our bodies are very intelligent and given the right opportunities will be able to self relieve tightness.