The other night while training, I was the only one in the gym. Which meant blasting Wilson Philips and doing my best Bridesmaids impersonation between sets.
Half-way through my session, another woman came in and hopped on the treadmill, which brought an end to my dancing and singing, but did initiate a conversation I often have with strangers in commercial gyms. After eyeballing me for a few minutes, we made eye-contact and she asked what has now become a familiar question.
“What are you training for?”
“Life,” I said.
I get that question often, usually because people don’t recognize the exercises I’m doing. These exercises are common amongst the coaches and trainers I follow, but many of them have yet to become mainstream. And many are not exercises you'll see in a commercial gym. So I decided to initiate a new segment to the blog where I introduce exercises. (Full disclosure, I stole the name from Tony Gentilcore, who has had this series on his blog for years.)
But because I’m an indirect communicator who likes to “suggest” instead of “demand” I’m changing the title, slightly. Exercises you should consider.
Today, I’m starting with a newfangled* stretch for the hip flexors, which an area of the body that's become very popular to stretch among both athletes and general fitness clients alike. Many of us experience significant tightness in the hip area for any number of reasons, including posture, and for a large part of the population, the fact that we spend many hours a day sitting.
Below is a stretch I've used for myself and other clients off and on for years. In fact, when I first discovered this stretch, I did it several times a day because it felt really good, especially while working a desk job.
One of the common defaults with this stretch though, is to really lean into it and try to aggressively get to the hip area, when in fact I'm ending up with more of a quadricep (front of the thigh) stretch.
While I like this stretch myself, it’s easy to do incorrectly, and many clients are either too tight in the hip and quad area to grab their back foot, or can't tolerate the pressure on their knees. (If you are doing this stretch, do your knees a favor and use a pad..)
Last week I came across this stretch from Dr. Mike Reinhold. When I tried it myself, my biggest surprise was how small the range of motion was in order to feel the effects. I believe this exercise is a easier to perform correctly, and that you'll feel this more in the hip flexor muscles than the quads. I don't think I've ever felt a stretch quite like this before, which is why Dr. Reinhold calls it the "true hip flexor stretch."
Key Coaching Cues: Dig your back toe into the floor, as seen above. This helps to activate the glutes. Squeeze your butt cheeks like you're trying to crack a walnut. I know, I know, but there's no better way to put it. You'll also see in the video above, that I'm using my hands to guide my pelvis into a proper position. Think of your pelvis as a bucket of water, and you want to tip the front part of the bucket up towards the spilling to prevent it from spilling. Another cue is to think of pulling your belly button towards your spine or tucking your belt buckle in.
Who I Stole it From: As I mentioned, I found this on Dr. Mike Reinhold's blog, but I've also seen a variation on Dean Somerset's website (www.deansomerset.com); because these dudes are so much way smarter than me.
Give it a try and see what you think.
*I thought newfangled was two words. Turns out it’s one. Who knew? Actually, I didn’t even think it was a real word. So there’s your first nugget of knowledge for the day.