The secret to visible abs is actually no secret at all: eat clean and lower your body fat percentage. Sounds easy enough, but even if you eat right and workout, your body still might be holding onto that annoying lower belly pooch. I have to admit, that ‘pooch’ is an area I’m constantly working to improve.
Here’s what I’ve learned: if you’ve tried everything to reduce your lower stomach and it’s still not budging, the problem may be in your hip flexors. Yup, tight hip flexors can lead to a lower belly pooch (and lower back and hip pain). When your hip flexors are tight, you tend to adopt a pelvis-tilted-forward posture that causes a pooch-like effect to your midsection. People who tend to sit for long hours are especially at risk for this.
The good news? You can improve and loosen your hips, thus flattening that lower belly pooch, just by stretching, not by doing hundreds of reps of crunches.
3 Stretches To Loosen Tight Hip Flexors
First, warm up your body for 10 minutes through walking, jogging, jump rope, etc.
Perform these stretches daily after warming up your body. Note: If you feel any discomfort or cramping during stretching, stop.
1. Kneeling Stretch
Think of this stretch as a lunge.
Begin by standing with your feet together. Step forward with your right leg and extend your left leg behind you, lowering your left knee to the ground. Keep your knee above your ankle (don’t let it go past your foot). Push your hips forward and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
2. Knee-to-chest Stretch
Lie on your back and draw your left knee toward your chest. Pull it closer with both hands and feel the stretch in your hamstrings and hip flexors. Hold for a count of 30, then repeat with your right leg.
3. Lying Leg Crossover Stretch
This stretch is my favorite!
Start by lying on your back with your legs extended. Keep your lower back down on the floor. Bend your left knee, placing your left foot flat on the floor.
Next, cross your right ankle at your left knee. Grab the back of your left thigh and hug your legs towards your chest. Place your right elbow on the inner portion of your right knee and gently push it to the side. Breathe deep and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
What are some of your favorite hip stretches?