Pilates & Yoga for Hip Flexor Strain

When you bend your knee or bend at the waist, your hip flexors engage, extending your range of motion. Because most physical activity engages your hip flexors, strain and injury is common. Stretching your hips and opening your hip flexors will ease your pain. Fortunately, several yoga poses and Pilates moves do just that, and most of each type of class will incorporate several hip-opening movements during a standard 55-minute class.

Side-Lying Kicks
Lie sideways on your mat, legs on top of each other. Prop yourself up with one hand. Swing your top leg forward and back. Keep your leg at hip level. Do 10 reps then switch to other side. You can intensify this move by adding a bicycle curl. To do this, swing your leg forward, pull your knee to your chest, straighten your leg and swing it back.

Single-Leg Stretch
Lie on your back. Pull one knee into your chest and extend your other leg long at a 45-degree angle to the floor. You should feel this hip open. Switch legs and repeat. You can lessen the intensity by adding a pause before switching legs, or you can make the pose more fluid by taking out the pause. Get a better lower-ab workout by keeping your head and shoulders lifted.

Leg Circles
Lie on your back, extend one leg and rotate it 360 degrees in a clockwise motion. When you’ve completed one circle, go in the opposite direction. Do eight to 10 circles in each direction per leg. If you have a more limited range of motion, wrap a towel around the foot you’ll raise and hold the towel in your hand. This towel, or strap, can help you increase your range of motion, which is important because the bigger your leg circles, the more you’ll work your hip flexors.

Hip Openers
To access the basic yogic hip-opening pose, begin on hands and knees, and then shift into downward dog. Raise one leg as high as you can, bend it at the knee and drop the leg behind you. Your knee should come close to your glutes. Turning your torso in the direction of your leg will help open your chest. You can maximize the benefit to your hip flexors by slowly rotating your hip, first in one direction and then in the other. Hold this pose for several breaths before lowering your leg, resetting and doing the same with your opposite leg.

A relatively simple pose to try in yoga is dancer. In this pose, stand with your feet together. Lift your right leg behind you and bend it at the knee. Reach back with your right hand and hold your right foot. Pulling the foot closer to your glutes can add to the intensity of this pose. Bend at the waist and lift your foot and leg, which remains bent. When you’re fully extended, raise your left arm into the air and spread your fingers wide. Reset in standing before repeating on the left side of your body.