15th October, 2017
Your hip flexors are a group of muscles found deep at the front of your hips, attaching your spine to your thigh bones.
They work to bend your hips and help lift up your legs when you move around.
If you spend a lot of time sitting during your day – commuting to and from work, sitting at a desk and then collapsing on the sofa at home – your hip joints are bent for most of the day. This means that the muscles at the front of your hips are held in a shortened position and without the stimulus of standing and moving your hips regularly, your body assumes that you only need a limited amount of hip movement and adjusts the length of the muscles around them accordingly.
Having tight hip flexors also goes hand in hand with weak buttock muscles (glutes) as sitting compresses your glutes and prevents them from working properly too. Over time, these muscles become weaker through lack of use and having weak glutes is connected with a host of physical problems and altered performance which I’ll expand on in my next blog.
How to test if you have tight hip flexors:
Step 1: Lie on your back and use your hands to pull one of your knees towards your chest.
Hold your knee still and relax your other leg. Ask a friend to look and see if you can lower your thigh until it is parallel to the ground.
If you cannot lower your thigh parallel to the ground then you have tightness in the hip flexors.
Step 2: With your leg lowered as far as you can, then bend your knee to 90 degrees.
If your thigh rises when you bend your knee, then you have tightness in one of your thigh muscles (quadriceps).
You might be tight in both the hip flexors and quadriceps, or you might just have tightness in one muscle group … either way you can target your rehab programme more specifically if this has been assessed properly.
Exercises for improving hip flexibility
Hip flexor stretch
Kneel in a lunge position and tuck your tailbone underneath, flattening your back slightly. Lean forward to stretch a bit further, without arching your back. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 5 times.
Quadriceps muscle stretch
Lie on your side and hold onto your ankle (or socks or trousers if you can’t reach this far). Tuck your tailbone underneath and gently increase the stretch by bending your knee. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 5 times.
Glutes strengthening bridge
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor close to your bottom, hip width apart. Push down through your heels and scoop your bottom up off the floor, lifting your spine bone by bone. Hold for 5 seconds then reverse this movement. Repeat to fatigue.
Tips for fixing tight hip flexors:
Simply stretching isn’t enough to fix your tight hips. You’ll get much better results if you also try to think of ways to get out of your chair more during the day, to stimulate movement and muscle activity around your hips. Your body will rapidly adapt to meet this new demand and if you strengthen your glutes as well … then you’ve got yourself an effective rehab plan!
Get in touch is you have any questions at all,
The Physiofit Team.