There are dozens of different directions that your body can move. But I have found that if you train your body to move in five basic directions, all the other ones usually take care of themselves.
So over the next five days we'll be covering those basic movements. Today is day one of the five basic directions: hip flexion.
Also known as hamstring flexibility, because when you go into hip flexion, you are stretching your hamstrings.
*** Side Note: Many people think that their hamstrings are tight, but in reality they are not. To see if you actually have hamstring tightness, visit my hamstring flexibility blog post.
To determine whether or not you need work moving and hip flexion, we want to do two main things:
The main Exercise that we will use for hip flexion strength is supine leg raises.
How did you do in the exercise? are you able to get your leg vertical, just by engaging your quad and hip flexer?
Next, for the hamstring flexibility portion we will use Static Wall. Lie on your back with your legs up a wall. Ideally, your sacrum should be 100% flat on the floor.. Once you can get your sacrum to the floor, work on getting your hips toward the wall. This is a great exercise to test hamstring flexibility.
Keep your knees straight and flexor ankles, pulling your toes down toward you.
Hip flexion advanced:
One more level here. To progress both of these two exercises, basically combine them. Imagine doing Static Wall with no wall. You should be able to do this. If not, you need to work on your hamstring flexibility and hip flexer strength.
How did you do? Are you able to do all three versions of the test? Do you think it has more to do with your lack of hamstring flexibility or your lack of quad/hip flexer strength?
If you are good at all three of these exercises, don’t worry about hamstring flexibility for now. You probably can take a break from stretching your hamstrings. Instead, focus on strengthening your quads and hip flexers.
Even if your hamstrings “feel tight,“ refrain from stretching them for the time being, until you have assessed the other for movement patterns. Sometimes the hamstrings can play tricks on you, as I noted in the hamstring assessment blog post. If the hamstrings are too weak and flexible, sometimes they can actually feel tight.
Some trends that I’ve been noticing.
Almost every woman that I’ve ever trained has this hip flexion ability mastered. Even women who claim to have “tight hamstrings“ usually display a good range of motion this direction. Most men, however, don’t. Of course there are exceptions, but I would say at least 90% of my clients fall into this generalization. Having said that, if you don’t fall into that category, don’t worry. I really don’t think it matters too much. Just a general observation.
In the next four blog posts I’ll be talking about the other four Major Movement Patterns that are vital to consider when building a strength and/or flexibility program. They include:
Thanks for tuning in. I know you're serious about your health because you stuck to the end. If you have any questions, let me know and I would be happy to answer them.