Basic exercises that will help your awareness with using your abs and not your hip flexors

Basic exercises that can help increase your awareness and set the foundation for abdominal strength and body mechanics that balance your abs and hip flexor use:

Half Dead Bugs: In half dead bugs, we use the abdominal muscles to stabilize the pelvis so that we can feel the subtleties of the hip flexors at work. In half dead bugs, we also try to keep our big muscles, like the quadriceps of the thigh, out of the exercise as much as possible. Lying on your back with arms extended to the ceiling and knees bent into tabletop (90 degrees bent at the hips and knees). Take breath in to prepare. As you exhale, slowly lower the right knee towards the floor while keeping the lower back and abs engaged. The goal is to be able to lower the knee (not the foot) towards the floor without arching the lower back. If you are able to successfully complete the lowering of the single knee, progress to lowering both knees to the floor.  Again, the focus is core stabilization. Limit your range of motion of the knees until you are able to sustain stability through your abs and back.

Chest Lift: Chest lift engages all the abs but it feels more like an upper-ab exercise. In it, we stabilize the pelvis in a neutral position (slight arch above your bum and tailbone pointing towards your heels) and move just the upper body in isolation. Your hips and legs should stay still and do not grip. If the hip flexors start to get over-involved, you might have a sense that your knees want to pull toward your chest, or tightness in the groin and thigh. Lying in a supine position (face up towards ceiling) with knees bent and feet on floor. Breath in to prepare for the exercise. As you exhale, slowly lift the chest, neck and head off the floor, fixing your gaze towards your knees. Keeping the tailbone down and pelvis neutral, pause for a moment and take another in breath. As you exhale, roll back down to a supine position.

Roll Back (supported or unsupported). This exercise invites a deep abdominal scoop.  As you begin to roll back (supported by holding onto springs or theraband), you might sense a point where the hip flexors want to grab the movement. As you roll down, the hip flexors will have to do some stabilizing, but try to maintain a focus on rolling down and controlling with the abs. Thinking of getting some space between the top of the thigh and the lower abs can help. Sit nice and tall on your bum, take a big breath in. As you exhale, roll down to a nice deep scoop through the abdominal. Right there, you should feel your abs!  Make sure the head does not jutt forward, the scoop is in the stomach and not in the neck. Pause, take in breath. As you exhale, roll back up and restacking your vertebras one and at time in to a nice tall seated position.

As you work with increasing your awareness of the relationship between the abs and the hip flexors, you will discover that there is reciprocity in terms of one set of muscles doing the stabilizing of the trunk or pelvis while the other set moves. What we want to achieve is muscular balance, better functionality, and ultimately more choices about how we move.

May 16, 2010 · Monica Dawson · Comments Closed
Posted in: core strength, Injury Prevention