The Hip Flexors: Their Function and How They Can Become Tight
There are many different types of muscles in your body. Some are used for specific tasks while others serve multiple purposes. For example, the quadriceps muscle is primarily responsible for extending your legs and the hamstrings are mainly responsible for pulling them together. These two muscles play a crucial role in supporting your spine during walking or running. However, they do not perform these functions without the assistance of other muscles.
In fact, the hamstrings are one of the most closely related muscles to your core muscles. Your core consists of several smaller groups that work together to stabilize your torso and provide balance throughout your body. These include the abdominal wall (rectus abdominis), back (transverse abdominis) and hip flexors (gluteus maximus).
It is well known that the glutes have a major impact on stability. When you walk around with a limp, it indicates that your glutes are weak. If you cannot keep up with your peers when doing basic activities such as standing or walking, then something else must be wrong with your core muscles.
Hip Flexors Test: What Does It Measure?
You may wonder what does the hip flexor test measure exactly?
These muscles are not just responsible for lifting your feet, knees and legs. They also separate the thighbone from your pelvis. They are among the most important muscles involved in hip flexibility exercises. Without good flexibility in this area, you may struggle to perform even the most basic physical tasks.
Why Are My Hip Flexors So Tight?
The hip flexors can become tight from doing too many activities that require you to sit for long periods of time. For example, if you have a sedentary job like most people in modern society, then your hip flexors are very prone to tightness. The hip flexors are also responsible for controlling your posture when you’re sitting.
So what happens if the hip flexors get too tight?
Well, you start to slouch and your pelvis tilts forward.
The pelvis is no longer in the proper position to support your spine properly. Over time, you can cause your lower back to become weak and susceptible to pain.
So what do you do about it?
Obviously, you need to perform hip flexor stretches on a regular basis. But in some cases, this isn’t enough.
How To Stretch Tight Hip Flexors
To determine if you should stretch your hip flexors, you first must take a look at your posture. There are several different types of bad posture that can indicate weakness in the hip flexors. Some of these include:
Slouching when you stand, sit or walk
A forward tilt in your pelvis
An unnatural arch in your lower back
All of these issues can be caused by tight hip flexors. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to stretch them out. One of the most common is the standing toe touch. To perform this stretch, you should stand up straight and bring one leg forward so that your foot touches your knee.
Your heel should not touch your knee, just your toes. You should feel a stretch all the way down the front of your thigh. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds and then perform the same stretch on the other side. You can also do this stretch while lying down on a mat.
Another great way to stretch your hip flexors is by lying on your stomach and pushing your knees forward. This is known as the pelvic drop. To perform this stretch, lie on your stomach and slowly push your knees forward until you feel a mild stretch in your hip flexors. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Yoga Poses For Better Hip Flexibility
Yoga is one of the best ways to improve hip flexibility. The best part about yoga is that you do not need to join a gym or hire a trainer. All you really need is a mat and the rest can be found online for free. Just search “yoga for hip flexibility” or something similar and you should have no trouble finding a beginner video.
Some of the best yoga poses for hip flexibility include:
The tree pose
The warrior pose
The downward facing dog pose
The seated forward bend pose
The bridge pose
Most yoga videos will show you how to perform these poses properly. Just make sure to watch out for any soreness or pain while performing these. If you feel any pain, stop and consult a doctor.
I always recommend yoga for people who are just starting out with exercising. It’s a great way to improve flexibility and build core strength at the same time. It also has a meditative element to it that can help you stay focused. Just make sure to take it slow when performing these poses if it’s your first time.
If you want to learn more, I highly recommend joining a yoga studio in your area or at least buying a few DVDs with beginner routines. You’ll be glad you did!
Once you feel confident in your flexibility and experience some of the benefits of improved circulation and deeper breathing, you can start looking into more intense workouts.
Resistance bands are a great way to improve your strength without having to lift weights. Just loop the band around something sturdy like a chair and then perform your exercises. Most resistance band packages come with a guide on how to perform the exercises. Below are a few detailed examples. You can look up more exercises online.
This exercise primarily targets your triceps but it also involves your chest, shoulders and core. To perform this exercise, you will need to loop the band around something sturdy and then put your knees on the band.
Your knees should be above the handles of the band. Your hands should be shoulder width apart and your back should be straight. This is the starting position.
Sources & references used in this article:
Moulded baby syndrome and unilateral” tight” hips. by C Good, G Walker – British medical journal (Clinical research ed.), 1983 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
The effect of stem fit on bone hypertrophy and pain relief in cementless total hip arthroplasty. by LA Whiteside – Clinical orthopaedics and related research, 1989 – europepmc.org
Designer hips. by CJ Bulstrode, DW Murray, AJ Carr… – BMJ: British Medical …, 1993 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Treatment of failed open reduction for congenital dislocation of the hip. by WP McCluskey, GS Bassett, G Mora-Garcia… – Journal of pediatric …, 1989 – europepmc.org