Class #5129

Hip Flexor Release Mat

35 min - Class


You will experience freedom in your hip flexors with this Mat workout by Ilaria Cavagna. She uses a Wall and a Theraband to help de-emphasize this area of the body to maximize the benefits of your practice. This is a great class to repeat so that you can start to create these movements on your own, and let this newfound freedom find its way into more of your daily activities.
What You'll Need: Mat, Wall, Theraband

About This Video

Nov 07, 2022
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The hip flexors. That's something that all of us have to deal with either when we start a sport activity or sometimes with our clients. A lot of times they want to kick in when we don't want, where they're not really needed. So, in this mat we're going over many different ways to work on them. So, what do we wanna do?

We want to really strengthen the posterior chain. We want to make sure the front of the hip is long and we want to get to stretch both the thigh, the rec fem, and the hip flexor and the hip also itself. So, we're gonna use a wall, we're gonna use a THERABAND. If you have the loop ones, that's great. Otherwise a long one that you're holding in the hand is perfect.

Medium resistance. And then of course you can change the resistance according to what you like the best. So, we're gonna put it here. We're gonna turn around against the wall first. So, we're gonna put the feet up against the wall and I want you to be at about like 90 degree angle with your knees.

So, you're gonna be here and the wall is gonna help us really get into the glutes, the hamstrings, and all the posterior muscles that should kick in when we need them. I also like to open the arms out. So, here we also release a little bit of the pec minor and pec major, which are always, often, not always, but often tight on us. So, here we peel off the wall and we lift up nice and easy. Okay?

And here the focus is really to work the posterior chain, but also lengthen and open up the front of the hips as much as we can. Let's do two more in this position. As we can see, you can see we started with the feet hip width apart. Now, let's go with the feet just a little wider. And the knees together, oh, which are not to roll the feet, the feet are flat on the wall.

And here we do the same thing. You'll see how you are not gonna be able to go as high as you were going before, but it's really important to be specific and segmentally reinforce all part of the glute max. So, we do a few more reps here. The goal is the same. We'll reach forward with the knees, we activate the back.

Here, we release. Let's do two more in this position. Of course, we're doing like five, six reps, but you are welcome to go for more if you see that this is a good exercise for you. Now, let's get the feet together and the knee slightly apart. And we go up doing exactly the same thing.

Pay attention to the articulation of the spine like we did and then stiff back mat. We want to really go deep in moving one vertebrae at a time. And also there when there is the sacrum that usually is a little more stiff and flat, we want to get that articulation going. And down. And now everything together, that's the last position we're missing.

So, from here we go up and down here. I want you to also activate the inner thighs and do your best for the opening of the hip. My glutes and hamstrings are already burning. It's nice to feel where we should initiate the movement from, right? So, we'll really challenge ourself to get to the end of the mat.

And probably we will not need the wall or the THERABAND because the body really got the concept of it. Now, from here, let's do this little pre-Pilates on the wall. We squeeze the inner thighs, we'll lift up and we hold tight for five, four, three, two, one. And easy release. Other side.

I love this exercise because nothing is moving, but so many important muscles are working and activating and waking up. So, I really like this to start any mat actually. And down. And now we do the same thing with the legs a little lower down. So, now my abs are kicking in a little more.

I'm lengthening the hip even more. And I hold it, hold it, hold it, and easy release. Other side, squeeze the inner thighs in. Lift up, pull tight together, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, and slowly down. Now, scooch back a little bit.

So, I need a little more distance with the wall. And here I push the feet up against the wall and I curl up. Now, really active pushing. Push into the wall, roll back, opening up the spine and roll back up. Feel free to use your arms.

Think about the roll back bar on the Cadillac here. It's really a nice opening for the lumbar spine, for the mid-spine, and then if we go lower down, we get into more of the shoulders and bottom of the neck. Really nice to get this articulation. And again, heels and feet pushing into the wall. Let's do one more and then we stay down.

Push, push, push, push, push. Legs come together. And here I'm doing my hundred. So, now because the wall is helping me, the hundred is gonna be easier. I want to find this part of the hundred.

I want to really activate the back of the body to get more freedom and more release to the front of the hips. Reach and exhale, exhale, exhale. Now, I'm activating the inner thighs, I'm working my abs, I'm lengthening my head, my neck, top of the head up to the ceiling. Keep reaching, reaching, reaching, reaching. Pump vigorously with the arms, reaching forward with the fingertips.

Feet up against the wall, fingertips reaching for the wall. Lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen and release. Now, let's bend again. We roll up. You can get a tiny bit closer if you want.

And now here we go into a little bit of a falling back, back up, and then push into the wall. And let's do the same articulation we were doing before without holding with the arms. And then again, you scoop full and up and you see how the hip flexors stay open and relaxed if we do it this way, right? We are pulling the naval back, we are falling, we're not throwing the knees. And here we go again.

Let's do one more. Pull, pull, pull and up. One more rolling. Rock back, come up and hold. Now, from here, pull one knee to you and single leg bend.

So, pretend you're doing this exercise on the jumpboard. You are actually using this leg. You're jumping off the wall and reach and reach and reach. So, a lot of times that long leg is kind of lost and doesn't know what to do. The foot doesn't know what to do.

Here we have a purpose. We're walking and jumping on the wall. And now same thing for the straight. Pull and pull and pull and pull. Now, almost lift your hips and almost lift your hips, and up, and up, and release.

Perfect. Now, we could do the whole mat up into the wall, but now I want to see if we can maintain what we learn with a little bit lighter help, a little less help. That's a strong reference, that's a transcendental reference. Now, we're going to something lighter. So, our body needs to integrate those movements more actively.

So, the heels are reaching forward. I roll back and I reach, I reach, I reach, I reach, I reach. Articulate down and open. Now, come up, scoop, and keep your hips open as long as you can before you go forward. And again, pull back, control, control, control, control, control, and open.

And now scoop and over. Of course, feel free to use your arms as much as you need. It depends on the intensity of the resistance of the THERABAND. Again, this is a medium one, so it's like not too much help, but definitely some. Let's do one more.

You curl and lift, you go over, and you pull back. Control, control, control, control, and release. Now, from here we're gonna bring one leg up and we think about being on the Cadillac, doing leg springs. So, if you can anchor your elbows down so that we don't hunch over too much. And from here you pull down and up.

Lengthen and up. Three, we do two more. Reach and reach. Now, we go across and open, across and open, across and open. Now, we add a little something.

You go across, you go down, come back up, and to the center. Open, reach down, out, and center. Let's repeat it one time. Cross, down, up, center. Open, pull down, up, center.

Now, you're ready for circles. Again, circles that come and move from the back of the leg. Now, reverse. Three and crossing up, two, crossing up, three. And beautiful.

We change our other leg, same thing. You go down and up five times. Really lengthen that leg. And you go four, five. Now, tick tock.

Cross and open, cross and open, cross and open. Now, cross it, pull it down, up, center. Open, down a little, up, center. Cross, down, up, center. Open, pull, pull, pull and ready for circles.

Go across, touch all those points, and up. Circle around and up. One more time. Go and lift. Now, reverse.

And in front of the nose, open and up. Last one, circle across and up. Now, we put both feet into and we go back to our rolling like a ball. We did it already. We repeat it here.

Back and up. Pull, pull, pull. Back, you see how I'm lifting my arms up if I need to have the legs work in that direction, right? If I need to give resistance, I create resistance with the elastic. And again, pull and up.

Now, roll down, double leg stretch. Reach out, we're doing frogs. Frogs on the Cadillac. And you go reach, reach, reach, and in. Lengthen and in, reach out.

Remember those inner thighs we used before at the wall with the pre-Pilates. And you go lengthen, lengthen, and in. Lengthen, lengthen, straight up. Down, down, down, and lift. Scoop and up.

And personally I like to look at the hip flexors as well. I want to make sure I don't see them gripping. I want to go long and up. Reach, reach, reach, and up. Pretend that that elastic is way stronger than what it is.

And you want to lengthen out and up. Let's do one more. Reach, reach, reach, and perfect. Now, from here, we come up sitting and now is a real challenge. Now, we need to try not to have them pop in with no help or very little one.

So, here, arms crossed. You can flex the feet if you want. And we go with a modified crisscross sitting up, okay? And you go reach and reach. Now, pull back, look at your hip flexors, make sure they're not popping up.

And you go twist and twist, and twist, and twist, and twist. And if you can, you go if little farther back and we do the same thing. Twist, twist, and twist exhale, and exhale, and up. Now, we separate the legs a little bit. Sit and place the hands right on top of the thighs, close to the hip bone, okay?

Here, lengthen. I don't want you to keep them loose and bent. I don't like bent legs. I think we can avoid it. I want you to activate the back of the legs and push your legs down into the floor.

So, as soon as you push them down, you feel that you're lifted. And I want you to monitor the insertion so that it doesn't overwork. Now, maintain that, keep thinking about your legs more than the exercise itself. Inhale, and we go forward a little bit and up. And again, lift, head down.

Reach, reach, reach, and up. And again, lift, head down, stretch. Let's go a little more this time, and up. And now you go as far as you can and you're going to grab underneath the feet or on the ankles, wherever you can get. And now you pull back.

You pull back to open the lumbar spine as much as you can. Legs completely relaxed at this point, it's all passive. And then we let go and you roll back up open. Let's try to maintain the same work as we do the saw. So, you twist, exhale, and reach, and up.

Other side. Twist, exhale, exhale, exhale, come up, taller. Pressing to the floor. Twist, reach, reach, reach. Come up, open, open, open, open, and center.

And again, twist, reach, reach, reach. Come all the way up, and center. Now, let's get back to the THERABAND for open leg rocker and the corkscrew So, here, pull back, scoop, help your legs come up. Pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull. Push out your legs also a little bit.

That's also something very helpful. And now we go again. We fall back and up. And again, fall back and up. Tension out, tension down.

And again, back, and up. And again, roll and lift. Now, close, roll down, and corkscrew. Similar to that leg circles we did before. So, let's think about those points we hit prior.

So, you go, you go down, to the center, to the side, and reverse. Down, around. Let's do one more. Open, circle around, and up. And again, down and around, and lift.

You'll feel how lighter everything is, right? Now, on all four, we're going to really train our awareness to lengthen without arching too much, and on how to work with a hip flexor. So, here you stretch one leg out long, you stay long with your table top position. Every time your foot lifts up, I want you to think about pulling your naval up. And down.

We do 10, reach, reach, reach. It doesn't matter if the leg doesn't go up too high. It's the quality and what we stabilize that is important. Now, we keep it up. You bend and you pulse.

Very little pulses with the foot flat, same thing. Every time my foot goes up, my naval pulls in. And now other side. Lengthen out, pull, and you go up, up, up. Pull the navel, long neck.

Breathe. Navel up each time. Now, you stay, bend, and your pulse. Two, three, four, five. Let's try to keep the hips as squared as possible.

And release. Now, let's go with the first leg you work with, for me is the right, and the left arm. Both come up, reach long. Now, the navel definitely pulling up. And then we go arm and leg, arm and leg.

We're preparing for swimming. Long hip flexors work over the posterior chain. Hold, move arm and leg out to the side. Move it back where they started, and down. Other side.

Leg back, left and right arm. Now, you go up, up, up, up. Reach, lengthen the toes and the fingers as you lift them up. Hold, now open, open like an helicopter, out, back to center, reach, and down. Now, let's go into a plank and I want you to think of scooping that naval up all the time.

So, we slowly go down and we control. We want to keep the naval lifted. Let's try not to have the naval touch as we go down to the floor. And then we relax. Now, relax your head down, rest it on your hands.

And I want you to start lifting your legs without pushing the hip on the mat. So, I lift my leg just a little and my hip bone is still off the floor. Just a few times. My naval is pulling up. Now, let's lift the leg up.

I push the front of the hip down on the mat, but my naval tries to stay off the floor. Hold and down. Same thing on the other side. Hip bone touches, naval lifts. And again, up, up, up, and down.

Up, up, up. And now we can slide and come up on the forearms. We're gonna look forward, open up the collarbones, lift the navel once more. And you go look, circle around, and center. And on the other side around your circle, keep it lifted it, and up.

Now, let's lift the leg up here. Kick, kick, reach, down, up. Kick, kick, reach, down. Lengthen and reach again. One more time.

Kick, kick, stretch, and pull the navel up as you lower yourself down. And now double leg stretch. You go double leg kick and you go open, open, open. And again, kick, two, three. Reach, reach, reach.

Now, you go kick, two, three. Reach up, lengthen the arms out, go all the way to the front. Open them back again, down for the last one. Lift, kick, kick, stretch. Open to the back, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen.

And now, right arm up, left leg, and switch. And lift and lift, and swim. Fast, breathing, lengthening, and pulling the navel up. And now you lift and you sit back in child pose to stretch for a second and find some length in the lumbar spine. And then you can come up.

And now here I want you to kneel with one foot forward, holding on one knee. You can tuck if you prefer for your knee. And now I want you similar to what we did on the floor. I want you to do a strong retroversion. Your naval pulls back and your hip goes forward, just like that.

Grow tall, open up the hip with intention. Maintain, maintain, maintain. And then we change, we do the other side. This is to prepare the thigh stretch. So, again, kneeling retroversion, tail bone down.

Hip is open, the naval goes back, the hip bone goes forward. You maintain, maintain, maintain. And now we put both knees down. I want you to think about hugging the floor, okay? The inner thighs are active.

Reach long with the arms. And now here I go back in one piece. And again, the naval pulls back, the hips are forward. Reach, reach, reach, and up. And again, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, and up.

And again, reach, reach, reach, and back up. Beautiful. Now, let's see how much we retained so far. We go with a nice neck pull. If you feel good with the arms back, you can go for it.

But feel free to fold them forward if you need. Now, the heels are forward, you curl back, curl back, curl back, and open. And again, hips are long, as much as we can, as long as we can. And lift. Now, picture the wall we used before.

Picture the elastic we were using later. Keep pulling back, reach forward, control down, and come up again. You go, you go over, and lift, and then you go down one more time. Control, control, control, control, and release. Now, let's think about the same thing for the jack knife.

We stay long with the waist as we go back and then open the hips up when you reach up to the ceiling, then roll down, and up. And again, back lift, roll down, and up. And again, back lift, articulate, reach, reach, reach, reach, reach, lower, and hold. Now, we go up, lift, stay long. And now I go scissor and scissor.

Now, the most important leg is the one that goes forward. I don't care about this. This is the one stretching. Don't turn out too much, keep it parallel. And you go reach, and you go reach, and lengthen, and lengthen.

Now, as you reach, you want to bend. We try to touch the floor. Uh oh, one is not touching. Now, it is. And reach, and reach.

Reverse, scrape the floor. Scrape the floor. Lengthen, navel in as you reach, and up. You can roll down or you can do the flip. And you go down, landing with both feet.

Now, release your hands. Keep this long, exactly like the first time at the wall. Hopefully better, right? Hopefully it open up. Now, from here, we're gonna just slide easy.

Three, two, one, other side. Slide, two, one. Now, you slide, you lift the hips, down, and bend. Slide, lift, down, and bend. Slide, up, and in.

Slide, lift, and in. And now slowly articulate down. Good, let's go to side kicks. Side kicks we are going to prioritize the work behind us. Okay?

So, we still swing the leg forward, but that's not the important part of the work. So, here we'll go swing a little. And now reach back. And again, swing a little, reach long. And again, swing and reach.

And swing, and reach, and swing, and reach, reach, reach, reach, reach. Leg on leg turn out and you go up and flex. Up, down. Now, lengthen it out. Reach, and reach, and reach.

Now, for the circles, this is the center. I want you to go just to the heel in front and then back to the wall. To the heel, to the wall. Three, four, five. And now reverse.

Back up and front to the heel. Back up and heel, wall up and heel. Two to go, and last. Now, go all the way to the wall. Reach forward with the opposite arm.

And now you go touch the wall, touch the wall, touch the wall. Two, one, bend for the thigh stretch. Big retroversion, knee reaching away from us. Navel pulling in and bicycle. Reach back and bicycle.

Exactly the same bicycle we did in the candle stick. And now reverse, up to the nose, and reach back. Up, send the knee first, then you stretch the leg. And again, up, and let's repeat the thigh stretch here. Maintain, maintain, maintain.

Reach long, legs together, And then you roll down onto your stomach for the beats. Stay lifted with the stomach. Remember scooping it up. Maybe it is touching the floor, that's okay, the navel, but that's the intention, right? And then we go bend and go lift, lift, lift, lift.

scooping the naval up and then you can roll to the other side. I'm gonna flip over and we do everything with the other leg. So, same. We're gonna hold and you go swing a little, reach back, swing a little, reach back. And swing, and stretch, and swing, stretch.

And hip forward, foot back, last one. And you go reach, reach, reach. Now, here, you go up and flex, and kick and reach. And three, four, and circle. Start in the center.

You go front, up, back. Circle two, three, four, and five. Reverse. Go back, up, and front. Two, keep the hip forward.

Now, stay there. Reach with the opposite arm and you go back to the wall, to the wall, to the wall, to the wall. Reach, bend for this first thigh stretch. We're gonna repeat it. Another one at the end.

Maintain the retroversion, reach away with the knee. And then we go into bicycle and lengthen back. Kick your seat and stretch. Lengthen, kick, and stretch and reverse. Up, go with the knee, the knee's leading and then you'll stretch.

Knees going back, then you stretch. Last one, you go for a second stretch over here. Pull, we'll try not to go offline with the knee. Want to keep it aligned. Pull, pull, pull, reach, and release.

Now, let's see, how is our teaser? The teaser is usually the point where the hip flexor just kick in, right? No way they can stay quiet. Now, let's see if we made it and we could dominate them. Now, let's start holding up.

Pretend we have the wall there. Now, let's look at them as we go down, right? We curl, we pull, we pull, we pull. Let's try to keep them quiet and the lift. And again, roll back, control down, and up.

And again, scoop, scoop, scoop, down, and lift. Now, try to stay back with the navel and we go down and up, down and up, down and up. Now, let's unfold everything down until a backstroke position. And then you scoop and you lift. And again, down, reach, and up.

One more time, down, down, down. And lift. Soles together, pull. And you go roll and up. Roll back and up.

And again, back, back, back, and lift. Last one, back and up. Very good. Now, let's go over a few stretches that could be very beneficial, like executed regularly if we know we have this issue. Even like, separately from this mat.

So, the classic quote, stretch, rec fem. I like when it's done on the floor because it gives a lot of stability. Of course, if you want to hold on onto the wall, you can do that. It gives you a stability, which is really good when we do stretches. So, from here you go and you grab the ankle with the opposite hand.

If you have the balance, you come up, you can hold onto something or you can go and grab the ankle with both legs, well arms, so that it's easier to pull it up towards you, right? So, two goals in this exercise. One, we need to try to get the heel to the glutes. And then we need to try to open the hip as much as possible, right? This muscle crosses two joints.

So, let's maintain this at the maximum we can do today. We hold it for 20, 30 seconds and then usually I recommend rolling in front of the rotula to release. Now, let's stay on this knee. We open the back foot a little bit for stability, both the knee and the foot, retroversion, and just lean forward a little bit. Okay, so the knee is reaching forward, The knee's reaching back, the hip is reaching forward.

Navel back, okay? You see that, right? Back, front, back. You maintain same amount like 20, 30 seconds. Always with a strong axial extension, we can not collapse, right?

Lift so it attaches to the spine. So, we need to maintain the spine as long as possible. And then we repeat on the other side. So, exactly the same thing. I go in front of the rotula, grab the foot, come up.

First I try to get the heel to the butt and then I come up, and I open the hip long. I hold, retroversion strong. Now, a lot of times this happens, we're hiking up the opposite hip. Let's try to keep it down. That increases the stretching a lot.

You maintain, you lift. Breathe, and then we roll in front, release. Create a bigger base, the foot goes out, and we grow, retroversion and we lean in a little bit of a lunge. Now, watch out. We're gonna do a general lunge in a second.

I'm holding a lot here. I'm doing that strong retroversion. Otherwise this would be, I would be down, right? So, I want to hold that because that's specific for that muscle. Then when I do a general release, I can do the other version of it, okay?

So, I'm really maintaining this retroversion, the navel, the groin tall, and then release. Now, let's go into for to finish with what we know Pilate space, a nice front split. A mix in between the front and the Russian. So, I want you to go to a general lunge with a knee down. And here you go up with the knee and down.

Up with the knee, as if we were pushing the carriage away. And again, up and stay. I'm really dropping the hips down to the floor. Now, we go push forward, pull back, push forward, pull back, pull and push. Now, let's square off the hips.

Most likely you have to come up a little bit. And then from here we try to come up with a nice balance and we go up and down, and lift and down, and up and down. Now, you can hold onto the knee, bring the back knee down onto the floor. And now here you lift and you open, open, open. And now down with the opposite hand and side bend away.

Side bend away from the hip that is getting the stretch. And then you come up, you stand that foot back, we switch, and we repeat on the other side. So, hands down, square off as much as you can. And you go up with a knee and down, up and down, up and stay. You go push, and push, and push.

Now, let's square it off, control. Now, my front leg is working a lot, the posterior part of it. Balance, and you go up, down, up, down, up, down. Let's control it down. Open, open, open, knee to the floor.

Reach with the arms, pull and open the chest, exhale. And now up, hand down, side bend. Opposite, opposite, opposite, opposite. And release. Perfect.

So, I hope you had fun and I hope you are able to dominate the hip flexors on the mat. And of course, as you know, there is more coming up on the Wunda Chair.


1 person likes this.
FANTASTIC! Love that feeling in my hips. Thanks a lot Ilaria :)))
1 person likes this.
Thank you Ilaria. I love the variation and your cuing. My hip flexor feel really open and released. 
Laura E
1 person likes this.
Thank you. I've always had tight hip flexors because of lower back issues. This has helped me so much.
1 person likes this.
This was fabulous, I loved every minute of it, thank you so much!!!
Anne P. You are very welcome  Anne! Happy you enjoyed the class!
Birgit N Wonderful Brigit! 🙌🏻
Laura E happy that this class was able to help! Low back is often the cause of tightness at the hips. Use a similar approach every time you workout, it will help!
Monica M Thank you for the feedback Monica! 😘 Happy you enjoyed the class!
1 person likes this.
Great class. Hips and low back feel great
1 person likes this.
A great class for tight hip flexor me. Loved your take on those stretches at the end, thank you!
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