Tight Hip Flexors? Do these mobility drills to help
Can we get a show of hands how many of you are spending more than 4 hours at the desk? How many of you spend hours driving? Or sitting on the sofa watching TV?
Are 15 minute breaks to walk around enough? Probably not. Say hello to tight hips.
You may experience occasional hip discomfort or possibly back pain. Tight hips are a big deal that if addressed properly will hopefully relieve the back pain you were feeling or even the ache in the hips. A lot of the time you’ll hear that you have a weak core and in some cases this is true, but have you ever thought that the hundreds of crunches you did in addition to the hours of sitting has caused your hips to shorten.
Anterior pelvic tilt
Hip Flexor Muscles
The muscles that make up the hip flexors include:
- Psoas major muscle: The psoas muscle is a deep muscle that connects your spine to your leg. In fact, it’s the only muscle that does so. It runs from your lower back through your pelvis, passing to the front of your hip where it attaches to the top of your femur, which is your thigh bone.
- Iliacus muscle: The iliacus is a flat, triangular muscle that lies deep within your pelvis. It attaches from your pelvis to your thigh bone (femur). Its primary action is to flex and rotate your thigh.
- Rectus femoris muscle: This muscle is one of the four quadriceps muscles, attaching your pelvis to the patellar tendon of your knee. Squats and lunges exercise the rectus femoris.
- Pectineus muscle: The pectineus muscle is a flat, quadrangular muscle that lies at the top of your inner thigh, often referred to as your groin muscle. It’s primarily responsible for hip flexion, but it also rotates your thigh and adducts, which means it pulls your legs together when the muscles contract.
- Sartorius muscle: The sartorius muscle is a long thin muscle that runs down the length of your thigh from your pelvis to your knee. It’s the longest muscle in the human body and helps flex the knee and leg.
Tight Hip Flexors = You’re Out of Whack
Think of the prime movers in the body: quads, hamstrings, glutes, and adductors (for starters). All of these major muscles act around the hip to keep it in balance and level. When your hips are tight, shortening your hip flexors, this can cause a dysfunction in your lumbo-pelvic-hip complex. Tight flexors can cause an anterior tilt of the pelvis, which in turn drives your lower back into a constant state of compression.
Poor Posture = Poor Range of Motion
When your posture suffers, so does your range of motion, or the full movement potential of a joint from flexion to extension. A considerable issue for obstacle racers, who need full movement capability to tackle everything from hurdles to wall climbs. A less-than-ideal range of motion will cause you to compensate with other muscle groups, heightening your risk for injury.
What is the key to healthy hips and overall posture? There are a couple of points to make. Yes, it’s important to take care of your hip flexors by doing a series of stretches three to four times weekly, in addition post-exercise, to increase hip mobility. It’s also important to focus on adopting proper mechanics throughout all the stages of daily movement, from sitting and standing to working out.
If it hurts, pay attention to it.
It’s important to note that if you are getting pain I would recommended checking in with a physical therapist or a sports therapist. They may help to evaluate key factors impacting overall hip pain.
4 Potent Hip Mobility Exercises
Spiderman Stretch: Start in a high plank position. Bring your right foot forward, to the outside of your right hand, placing it flat on the ground. Drop your hips toward the floor, stretching through the left flexor. Hold for 10 seconds, return to start. Repeat on opposite side for one rep. Do five reps.
Deep Squat: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and either arms by your sides or hands clasped in front of your chest. Sit back in your heels, as if you’re going to sit in a chair. Lower your body as far as you can, until your thighs are below parallel to the ground. Alternate shifting your bodyweight from your right to let leg for 10 seconds, then push through your heels to return to start for one rep. Do 10 reps.
Hip Flexor Stretch: Start on your knees and step your right foot forward, ensuring your knee doesn’t pass your toes. Keep your torso over your hip and squeeze your right glute. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. You can maximise the stretch further by lifting your arms up while holding the stretch position.
Band Assisted Hip Flexor Stretch: This is one of my favourite stretches to do for the hip flexor. Looping a resistance band against something sturdy. You place one leg into the loop so that it sits just below the glute. Step backwards until you feel resistance pulling you forward assisting you into the hip flexor stretch. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute each side.
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I hope this article has helped you think about your hip flexors a bit more and how a mobility/flexibility routine may help you.