I follow American steeplechaser Emma Coburn on Instagram. She even provided answers to her success through an interview published on this blog. This week she posted a hyper little demonstration of how she uses a fitness band to improve the strength and durability of her hip flexors. So I watched her do all those exercises and set a goal to “Be Like Emma.”
And look at these photos!! She could be my Fitness Sister, don’t you think?
That band has been lying on the dresser in a wrinkled heap for four weeks now. Meanwhile, every time I run more than an hour my hip flexors tire out and tighten up.
Well, duh. It might be time to do something about that, ya think?
Weak hip flexors holding you back? Pick up a yellow (or red, or grey, or green, or blue) band and lie down. Or stand up like Emma. Of course, she can one-legged squats all the way to the floor and back up. In fact she looks like she could do those all day long.
I started working with the band by standing up. That has value when it comes to teaching yourself balance. But then I got down on the floor and used that stretchy band for a full thirty minutes. That’s a good way to start when your hip flexors are weak like mine They need work before you can even gain much benefit from standing up. Like Emma.
So I rolled around like a writhing little gator on the shag carpeting in our bedroom and worked those little hip (hop) flexors like they haven’t been worked in years.
Small ball fitness
Those connective tissues and “small joint problems” did not used to be problem for me. As an active athlete that played basketball in the off-season, or soccer, the hip flexors and other ‘small-ball’ players in the overall physiology got a consistent workout.
But now that I’m sixty and sit at a desk much of the day, and don’t play ballistic sports because my left knee has no ACL after it was torn the second time, the idea of cutting and turning in tennis or other sports to keep muscular balance is just not a good idea. Too much risk of catastrophic injury.
Stretching body and mind
So it’s onto the ground and use the stretchy band. I’m not going to offer some tutorial on how to do that. I’m no expert. But I know what hurts on my body, and how to stretch it. So that’s what I do. It will definitely help in the long run with hip flexors strength, durability and endurance.
But getting fit isn’t all about working muscles and joints. There’s also the head to consider.
Breathing poses no problem
Partway through the experience I slipped into a yoga position called Child’s Pose. That’s where you essentially curl your upper body over your folded legs and sometimes extend your arms in a passive or active stretch. There I lay, breathing for the sake of breathing. In…out. In…out. Finding my center.
I even grasped my own head in my hands for a minute. Just let the contact between hands and head resonate and carry all the way back through my toes. I was my own compact ball of sixty-year-old energy. Breathing.
Then I finished another fifteen minutes of stretching and combined it with some planks and pushups. I’ll be adding core work to this routine, which I like because I don’t have to drive anywhere to do it.
And when it’s all done I’ll just lie down and let it all sink in. As long as you can still stretch, you’re still alive.
Thanks Emma Coburn, for the inspiration to stop neglecting my hip flexors.