We started our Psoas (hip flexor muscle) discussion last time.
We discovered that the health of our hip flexor muscles, are very important, as it serves as an indicator of the strength and health of your entire body.
Think about it – this Psoas muscle is the only muscle in the human body that connects the upper body to the lower body. The exercises we do for strengthening the hip flexor muscles will strengthen the hips and your hips are the bridge between your upper body and lower body – so actually at the center of your body’s movement. This mighty Psoas attaches to the vertebrae of the lower spine and then moves through the pelvis and connects to a tendon at the top of the femur. It attaches to the diaphragm – so it connects to your breathing and is all over the major organs.
Areyou starting to realize the importance of the Mighty (Mouse) Psoas?
It thus is impossible to have neutral spinal alignment with stability around the hips, or to have stability around the hips with lower back and abdominal support or even support for the organs in the pelvic and abdominal cavity, when there is no functioning healthy Psoas present.
Nowimagine what you are doing to this power muscle if you sit sit and sit! A tight Psoas muscle will cause the lowerback to curve and then it will push your stomach out. If you look after your Psoas health it willpull your abdomen back and thus tuck in your tummy, which will provide you witha flat stomach. Remember that this Psoasmuscle is a fight or flight muscle and will tighten when it feels danger – itwill help you run or protect you in a fetal position. Now if you keep this muscle in this constanttight position, it will keep sending danger signals to the adrenal glands,which will then surely overwork. Yourimmune system obviously will suffer and your body will switch into fat storingmode in anticipation of danger. All daysitting for men can also cause the hips to be stuck in a forward position sothis has decreased blood flow and circulation through the hips and to the sexorgans as a result – thus affecting your sexual performance.
Having strong hip flexors is very beneficial to athletes and also to people with spinal problems who are more predisposed to a posterior pelvic tilt. On the other hand, if you sit on your gluts all day every day (non athletes) you need not strengthen the hip flexors but rather your gluts. Engaging in a stretching program for the hip flexors is key.
When we look at athletes that need speed (stride length and stride frequency with an explosive knee drive) or being able to jump explosively with obvious strong hips, the strength of the hip flexors becomes a very important factor.
I have a strong belief in the use of elastic bands for my athletes to develop strength in the hip flexors. Here are two elastic band exercises that can be incorporated:
– Elastic band – around feet – drive up quick and down. For strength development, add more resistance on a negative rep – fast up and slow down.
- Fasten the elastic band around an object close to floor and lie on back with feet on side of band. Assume a posterior pelvic tilt position with one leg bent and band around other foot. Pull the foot with band towards you in a bent knee position. Ensure that the lower back is into the floor throughout the movement. For speed pull band faster towards you and for strength execute negative reps (fast up and slower down)
For stretching any muscle, there are numerous methods that can be used :
- Fascia stretching – unique and effective –targeting the tissue around the muscles to be lengthened and loosened.
- Muscle activation movements – literally switching on the non working muscles (mainly due to inactivity) in order for body to move more efficiently
- PNF stretching – Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. Here we activate a specific muscle in order for other muscles to relax and decrease stiffness around a joint.
- Dynamic stretching – Establishing increased ROM (range of motion) around a joint with more circulation through activation of muscles around joints, while moving progressively though full ROM.
The following static stretch can be done by those with the tight hip flexor muscles in the morning.
– Start off with one knee on the floor and other leg bent in front of body at a ninety- degree position. Keep the torso upright. Extend a straight arm, of the side where kneeis on floor, upwards. Other arm is just bent on hips. Now lean over the head laterally with the straight arm while stretching the hip flexor. Hold the position for a few seconds and repeat on the other side.
To all the readers of Joburg Post Wellness and Fitness section, I wish you a blessed festive season and may your 2019 be filled with health as wealth!
From Elsa Storm