After working on my fitness gradually over 3 years or so I’ve lost nearly 2 stone in weight and toned up considerably, but there are still some areas I’d like to tone a bit more so I decided I needed to mix it up a bit.
I downloaded a few courses: nothing too expensive, just the odd thing here and there that I reckoned would give me some new inspiration.
I still use ‘Just Six Weeks’ and I highly recommend it if you need something to really make you focus on specific exercises like sit-ups and push ups, especially for short periods of focus (I just finished week 5 again in the run-up to my holiday).
I was looking for some additional nuggets of inspiration and one of the first downloads I discovered was Unlock your hip flexors.
Why unlock your hip flexors
I was feeling old and stiff and, frankly, wondering what the future held.
My job involves sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, plus my drive there can take anything from half an hour to two hours. Potentially, I could be sitting for 12 hours a day. Add a groin injury into the mix, and I was struggling to sleep because of the pain in my hips and legs. When I stood up from my desk it took a few steps before I was able to fully straighten up. I was feeling old and stiff and, frankly, wondering what the future held. Without wanting to be over-dramatic, it felt like the beginning of a downhill slide to aged infirmity, and I’m certainly not ready for that yet.
The groin injury just didn’t seem to be healing. The exercises I got from the NHS physio seemed to work at first, but as soon as I did anything, like gardening, that involved crouching down, it was back to square one. I tried a sports massage, which again did help, but still wasn’t the once-and-for-all solution I was searching for. I know you have to work at these things, but there are only so many hours in the day for stretching.
You don’t have to look long on that 24/7 information highway called the internet to discover an article telling you that that sitting is the curse of the 21st century. A plethora of articles tell us how tight hip flexors can cause poor posture, tight glutes, stiff joints and goodness knows what else. So many of the symptoms I read about rang true for me that I decided I would definitely give it a go, but I wasn’t quite ready to spend $10 without additional investigation.
Dehydration and the menopause.
Apparently, as a woman of a certain age hitting the menopause, it’s likely that I need extra hydration, and there were lots of links between dehydration, restless nights and aching joints. it all seemed to fit; suddenly there was a chance that this wasn’t the inevitable decline I’d been dreading.
Solution 1, increase water intake. Result: sleeping better and reduced pain.
I have no doubt that drinking more water made a huge difference. The bed no longer felt like a lump of unforgiving rock against my hips and I was feeling generally more supple. I couldn’t believe the difference it made. I also cut down on coffee and started drinking herbal tea in the afternoons. I realised that not only was I drinking more and more coffee, but I was also drinking it later into the day. No wonder I was struggling to sleep, and of course coffee is a natural diuretic, so cutting it out was a win-win.
Aren’t cookies a wonderful thing?
I don’t mean the chocolate chip variety, I mean the annoying ones that mean as soon as you look up hotels for a trip away, you get a million adverts for travel agents, or as soon as you pass 50, you get invitations to join in on Saga bus trips – no thanks. But sometimes cookies mean you get adverts for something you are actually interested in, and up popped How to Unlock your hip flexors.
As you may have gathered, I’m not big into paying for exercise programmes when the internet is jammed full of free advice, but I did want to know that the stretches I was doing were the right ones, and the hype for this certainly sounded good. At around a tenner I figured I may as well give it a go.
I paid my $10 and was immediately able to download the program with instruction video, follow along video and an in-depth manual on just why you need to look after your hip flexors. The welcome pack came from a different site: Healing through Movement which I didn’t really think about at first.
I have to admit that even a month in, I still haven’t read the manual to the end. I waded straight in, watching the instruction video on my phone during my lunchbreak and did the follow along video first thing the next morning while the method was fresh in my mind.
Now, follow-along? Not quite. The first few dynamic stretches are over before you’ve even get yourself into position – once I got used to pausing this bit it was fine. They run through the different options for some of the exercises, which makes it easy to choose whichever one you prefer to do and most of the stretches are pretty simple and easy to follow.
The programme, devised by Mike Westerdal and Rick Kaselj, is a mixture of dynamic and static stretching. There isn’t much that you won’t have come across before. From dynamic leg swings, to standing quad stretches (but with one arm in the air for added stretch). Unlock your hip flexors claims that it’s the order the exercises that makes them work so well. One thing that confuses me here is that on the Healing through Movement site, Brian Klepacki shows a completely different set of exercises that basically claim to do the same thing, but cost nothing. I still haven’t quite worked out the connection between the three guys, or the two sites, I just read through them both and picked out the bits that fitted or worked for me. You could just do the free exercises that Brian highlights. I haven’t tried them yet; I don’t have a foam roller, but may just see if a tightly rolled up towel works (I’ll let you know if I try that and it works).
I managed everything with ease, and it all felt like it was doing some good – until I got to the end – when a series of plank exercises were suddenly far more gruelling than anything that had come before. If you do yoga regularly and plank a lot you would probably manage these; I don’t, and unfortunately strained my shoulder in trying to achieve the position shown. Leave these out altogether if you are not used to them, or maybe just do a simple plank without the turns from side to side.
A few weeks later in a yoga class with specific attention on the hips, I realised that after 10-15 routines of unlock your hip flexors I still have a long way to go. I can’t say it’s a limitation of the programme; have I been as conscientious as should have been? Probably not. Is it perhaps not the magic solution it claims to be? I’m not qualified to answer that.
I do know I feel better, even if not quite there yet. For $10, if you are feeling the adverse affects of sitting for long periods throughout the day, I think it’s worth a try and I certainly will continue to do this routine (ir)regularly. Are there other ways to loosen your hip flexors? Probably. Do I regret my 10 dollar investment? Definitely not.
I found this while researching for this article, maybe read this too before making your decision: Redefining strength.