The most important stretch a runner needs to perform is the hip flexor stretch. But not just any hip flexor stretch, the mother of all hip flexors stretches, THE COUCH STRETCH! 

First, let’s discuss why it is so vastly important that an avid runner needs to stretch their hip flexors daily.  When running, the hip flexor muscles are continually being shortened in length. Shortening of a muscle takes place when a muscle is being concentrically contracted. When running, the hip flexors are constantly firing , constantly shortening. This repetitive pattern, along with sitting for long periods of time at work or school, will directly create the dreaded tight hip flexors. Tight hip flexors can lead to back pain, knee pain, and decrease in overall athleticism.

Now that we know why it’s so important to stretch the hip flexors when you are an avid runner, why choose the COUCH STRETCH versus the typical standing quad stretch or the basic half kneeling stretch.   These stretches are difficult to stay stable in and do not take you to end range of motion, which is needed to provide a desired effect on the hip flexors. 

Here are the several steps along with some pictures to start performing this stretch.

1. Start on hands and knees and place your feet against your couch, plyo box, etc

2. Slide your LEFT leg against your stretching platform, if possible, place your LEFT shin against your platform ( couch, plyobox)

3. Now squeeze your LEFT glute to stabilize your lower back, and begin to post up on your RIGHT foot, work towards getting your RIGHT SHIN vertical.

4. Continue to squeeze LEFT GLUTE, slowly begin to lift your trunk upright, If you can not reach a full upright trunk position. STAY WHERE YOU FEEL A COMFORTABLE STRETCH. 

If you can attain an upright trunk posture, you can use a bench, stick, or club to help maintain this positioning.

5. Once you reach a full upright trunk, perform a posterior pelvic tilt (imagine you are tucking your tailbone) to apply the greatest stretch to the hip flexors. An easy way to perform the posterior pelvic tilt is to try to draw your belly button in towards. If done properly, you will feel more stretching in your LEFT hip flexors. 

If you are a runner and interested in learning more about injury prevention, and how to become a more athletic and stronger runner, please reach out to Movement Physiotherapy. We provided 1 on 1 individual care, personalized exercises, and a large knowledge on outside the box exercise.