In my view, the best hip flexor stretches are our partner ones; nonetheless, many people need one they can do by themselves, too. [Note as at 8 Feb 2021 – this need has become so much more pressing in the last year.]
This is one of the best I have found, so far. Have a play and let me know what you think.
This is one of the best solo exercises I have found, so far. Have a play and let me know what you think. There's no doubt that stretching the hip flexors well is more effectively done if you have a partner. If you do have a partner, try this one instead.
But if you're limbering or you're on your own, then this video demonstrates the best one to use that I've found so far. The form is very similar to the partner version, but I'm using a mat that's relatively sticky so that when I pull my knee forward in the contraction, it actually does not move forward, so the contractions can be quite strong, even without a partner.
There's no doubt that stretching the hip flexors well is more effectively done if you have a partner. But if you're limbering or you're on your own, then this is the best one to use that I've found so far. This is what it looks like. The form is very similar to the partner version, but I'm using a mat that's relatively sticky so that when I pull my knee forward in the contraction, it actually stays put. So this is what we do. Lean down onto the floor like this, reach the front foot forward so that it ends up in front of the knee, as you can see here, and then using slight leg straightening actions like this, we move the back knee back as far as we possibly can.
Then using the lats, the muscles under the arms, and also the hamstrings of the front leg, we do this. Straighten the back, take a breath in, and on the breath out, pull yourself forwards like this. As you can see that moved the leg further into extension. There are contractions, I'll show you two. One is just to try to drag the knee forward as I'm doing now, and then restretch as before. Or the second one, which I prefer because it's stronger is to pull the foot, the ball of the foot or the back ankle underneath like this, and then try to straighten the leg like I'm doing now, but without actually letting the hips come away from the floor, and then when you try and drag the back leg forward, it's much, much, much stronger contraction because the levers are twice as long.
Then you relax. You take a breath in. You let the hips sink down to the floor like this, and then you press the back leg straight like this, without bringing the hips away from the floor, and that will give you a fantastic stretch in this area of the body. Then if you let the body go back down onto the floor again, you'll find that if you pull forward, you'll get an even better stretch.
Now, I'll just spin around and show you what that looks like on the other side. Front foot out to the front as before, and to get the back leg in position, we use this little leg straightening action thing here. Basically what that does, each time you straighten the leg partially, you can slip it down the mat a bit further. Then to bring on the stretch, let the back foot relax and pull yourself forwards like this, and a sticky mat underneath the back knee really works wonders here.
Now the contractions. I'm going to drag the back knee forward five, four, three, two, one, stop. Take a breath in, and on a breath out, try to pull your hips a bit further forward like this. That's quite a good stretch for me today. Then I'm going to bring the ball of the foot underneath the ankle, like so, and without letting the hips come away from the floor, or resisting it as much as possible, watch this, try to straighten the back leg like so. Then when you're ready, drag the back leg, the whole of the back leg forward, five, four, three, two, one. You'll find there's no problem with friction there. It will be more than enough to hold you there.
Then stop, take a breath in, and you can either try to drag yourself forward like this, or you can put the knee down on the ground and drag yourself forward. Or last of all, you can try to straighten the leg a bit further like this, all three contractions will work well. Hold it for at least a few breaths in and out. When you're done, relax, like so, and rest for a moment. It's quite a strenuous exercise. Don't be surprised to find yourself breathing quite strongly. It's quite intense.
If you don't have a partner, I've found this to be the absolute best one, and the last version that I showed you, where you're holding yourself in position and straightening the back leg without letting the hips come off the ground, that will be strong enough for anyone. Try it. Last point, if one side is tighter than the other, of course, go back and do that a second time.