I noticed someone found my blog using the search terms "hip flexor, difficulty tieing shoelace" so thought i would write a quick post on how to help with this. It could be tying your shoelace, putting on socks or washing feet.
If possible see if there is a yoga class in your area which will help to improve range of movement as well as improve balance. If attending a class, or doing yoga, doesn't sound like your cup of tea then the following might help.
Exercise your leg muscles by marching in place, raising each knee as high as you can. Start at 30 seconds and try to (gradually) work up to 5 minutes. We are trying to warm up the muscles. You can do the marching standing up, standing up using the back of a chair for balance or whilst sitting.
After marching do some leg swings which stretch your hip flexors and increase your range of motion. Whilst standing and holding onto a stable surface (wall or back of chair) swing your leg from front to back. You need to keep your leg straight and the movement should come from the hips. Start with short swings and increase your range of motion a little with each swing but only do the range of movement that is comfortable for you. Switch legs after 10 swings and repeat on the other side.
Moving on do some side to side leg swings. These go across the body and then out to your side try not to rotate your upper body but again lead with the hips. It's important the form of these exercises is correct not just the range of motion you achieve. Switch legs after 10 swings and repeat on the other side.
Standing on one leg (using wall or back of chair to balance if needed) do a mobility exercise by trying to draw a circle with your toes, this will rotate your ankles. Do this both clockwise and counterclockwise to stretch all of your ankle muscles. Wiggle your toes for a few minutes to stimulate circulation and decrease stiffness.
We are going to stretch the hip, the hamstring (muscles in the back of the upper leg) and the calf (muscles in back of lower leg). Only stretch to a point of mild tension and do not stretch until it hurts. Once you have reached a feeling of tension, hold it for 20 seconds and remember to breathe!
Sit sideways on a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Hold the back of the chair with the nearest hand. Bend the opposite leg by dropping it off the chair. Slowly move your leg backwards until your knee is facing the floor. This will help stretch your quadriceps. Hold for 20 seconds then swing round and stretch the other leg.
In a seated position, bend one leg so that the knee forms a 90-degree angle and rest your ankle on the other knee. Gently push down on the knee of the crossed leg so that you feel a stretch in the hip. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch legs. If you would prefer an alternative exercise then whilst standing bring your knee up in front of you, take it out to the side and then down to feet together position. Hold on to wall of chair for balance if necessary. Switch legs after 10 repetitions and repeat on the other side.
Sit on the edge of your chair with your spine straight and chest lifted. Straighten your right leg and point your foot to the ceiling so that your heel is resting on the ground. Keeping your back straight slowly bend forward from the hips. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch legs.
To turn this into a calf stretch put a towel around the sole of your foot and hold an end in each hand. Slowly pull the towel towards you, pulling your toes toward you. This should create a stretch through your calf. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch legs.
That's it! Doing this little exercise routine 3-4 times a week should help you with those tasks such as putting on your socks.
Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them. This exercise routine is not recommended for anyone who has had a hip replacement in the last 12 months.
For more information on Personal Training please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 65s. This will open a new browser window.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net