April 27, 2020

Wall quad–hip flexor: if you do only one stretch today, this is the one


This compound stretch works quadriceps and hip flexors, and has many variations built in. It is infinitely scalable; everyone will be able to do a form of this.

The key variables to play with are:

1. Distance from the wall in the start position (this affects knee angle, from open to closed; this moves the stretch from the top (hip) end to the knee end); angle of trunk to the floor (closer to the floor, the less the hip flexor effect; the closer to vertical the more the hip flexors are worked) 

2. How far you move the hips away from the wall when you increase the stretch. The point of maximum intensity can be varied and moved to wherever you need it. 

3. How close to vertical you bring your trunk.

All these variable change the stretch in unexpected ways; play with all of them, in time.

Many times on workshops we have had people with chronic low back pain, but who had loose quadriceps in any of the quadriceps-only stretches we did, and loose hip flexors in the hip flexor-only stretches we did. But something magical happens when you stretch *both ends* of this complex at the same time and it produces completely novel effects. In many cases, working both ends of this muscle group was the key to overcoming their back pain.

Even if you don't have back pain, you should try this stretch – and when you get up off the floor and walk around the room, ask yourself does anything feel different?

Read transcription


Hi, Kit here. Today, I'm going to show you one of the best combination quad hip flexor stretches that we know of, and all you'll need in the way of equipment is a handy wall to put your foot back against and/or a chair. I would always have both. So, the starting position looks something like this. You lean forward, use the chair as support, put your foot up the wall like this. And you'll notice that I've got the ball of my foot on the wall, not the instep as we used to do it. And then while supporting myself, I bring this foot forward to here like this.


And the stretch is brought on initially by simply pulling yourself away from the wall like this. And in my case today, I'm feeling a stretch in this area here. And then to refine it, I'm going to twist my back hip forward, pull the front one back at the same time, tuck the tail like this, and then use the front leg and my arms while keeping the tail tuck on to pull myself away from the wall a little bit more, so. Wow, that's made it hugely stronger.


And as always, we wait for a while until you start to feel the body go soft. And as soon as you feel the body go soft, then take in a breath, breathe out, and let the tummy go soft and try and let the rest of the body soften even more. And once that happens, you'll be able to re-square a fraction, retuck a fraction, and watch you will be able to pull yourself away from the wall even further. And this is all before having done contractions. I cannot emphasise the importance of relaxing, if you want to become flexible.


Now, a couple of contractions. In my back foot, I'm pushing it down the wall, which activates quadriceps. And then I try to drag the back knee forward towards my chest; friction's holding it in place. Three, two, one, stop. Let everything go soft, re-square the hips, take a breath in, breathe out, tuck the tail, take another breath in, let the tummy go completely soft. And while holding the tail tuck on, pull myself away from the wall even further. And you can see just that huge difference with just that pair of contractions.


Now what I'll do to make the next version possible, I'll bring the chair in like this. And I'm going to put my elbows on the chair like this, redo the cues, retuck, re-square, pull myself forward. But you'll notice that because my body is more upright and you'll certainly feel this in the body as you do that, you'll feel much higher in the quad now. And also I'm starting to get something in the hip flexors. So, I'll repeat the squaring, the tucking, the pulling away, like so, and I'm going to repeat those contractions. First contraction, try to push the foot down the wall. Three, two, one. Second contraction, try to drag the folded knee along the floor towards my chest. Three, two, one, and repeat all cues. So back hip forward, front hip back, retuck the tail, pull myself forward, like so. Now watch, I'm going to let the tummy go completely soft while keeping the cues on. And that's the kind of improvement you can expect.


And then the last version, I'll just come out for a moment, push the chair away and redo everything, except this time I'm going to have my hands on my knees like this. And you'll see that brings my hips a bit close to the wall, as well. I'm going to pull the back hip away from the wall, tuck the tail, and then use the hamstring muscle here to pull myself away from the wall. I'll do the contractions again, press the foot down the wall, drag the knee forward, re-square, retuck, pull away. And then the last part is simply to push. I'll use the chair as well to push myself upright like this, trying not to come back too far in the process. And I can tell you that it's a very strong stretch today. Let the tummy go soft again. It's completely soft. Come away from the wall a bit further, re-square, retuck, and stop.


To come out, I recommend leaning forward onto the floor or onto the chair or both, bringing this foot into position. And then you're in a position to do the other side. Once you've done both sides, hop up off the floor and go for a walk around and just see what amazing changes have happened in the body. And please leave comments in the comment section below. We're always happy to hear from you. And if you've got any refinements or any other ideas, please drop those comments there, too.

  • Fantastic – thank you. I had a coached training session today and one of the main take-away points was that I need to increase the flexibility in my quads (so that some other muscles can help with the work!). Looking forward to building this into my new training routine.
    Thank you!

    • Martin, if you go to our YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/KitLaughlin), and search on “quads hip flexors”, you’ll find some useful variations. Do let us know how you go.

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