Pendulum Leg Swings (Hip Flexors)
Your hip flexors are a group of muscles located at the front of your hips that bring the leg in toward your torso. Sitting for an extended time not only weakens the hip flexors, but since they are continually in a contracted position (your legs are close to your body when sitting), they can become tight over time. The following exercise “shakes out” and loosens the hip flexors. After you’ve done one side, stand evenly on the floor and see if you feel longer on the side that you just swung.
What you need:
– A wall space
– A low stool or stack of books
What to do:
1) Place a low stool a foot away from the wall. Step your right foot on the stool and gently place your right hand against the wall. Let the left leg drape down heavily in mid-air.
2) Swing your left leg from the hips. Make sure the left leg is swinging heavily (i.e., you’re not exactly controlling the swinging; let the momentum swing the leg). (Bonus: for an extra challenge, relax both arms by your side as you swing your leg. It’s good practice for your balance too!)
3) Count to 10 swings, then step down from the stool. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and pause for a few breaths to notice any difference between the right and left legs.
4) Switch to the other foot when you’re ready for 10 swings, then step down, pause, and observe.
Why this works:
In this exercise, we use gravity to help lengthen the muscles of our hip flexors when we step one leg up on the stool. The heavy swinging additionally allows the muscles in our hips to relax and brings more oxygen flow down the legs. Relaxed muscles = longer muscles, hence you might feel taller after you’ve finished this exercise.
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