If you are like most of our Glen Iris and Malvern locals, you have suffered with tight hip flexors at some stage. And more often than not, it’s a tough work out or a long car trip that gets blamed for this naggy pain around your hips. It had us thinking, what is it that causes tight hip flexors? Is it weakness of the muscles? Are they just tight? Should I stretch them? Do I strengthen them? Whats the right answer??
To try and find a solution to this problem we had a look around at various journal articles, dug back into our university notes and spoke to some leaders in the Health and Fitness industry. The answer is… drum roll… No one seems to agree on an exact cause! WHAT? Thats disappointing!!
Some stay stretch these tight muscles. While others say we need to strengthen first. So who’s right? Who do we listen too? and more importantly what should YOU do?
Your hip flexors are a group of muscles that surround your hips. For simplicity we will focus on the 4 main muscles:
- Rectus Femoris
- Tensor Fascia Latae
The action of these as their name suggest is too flex the hip, or elevate the knee. They are strong muscles around the hip joint ( or upper thigh)
What Causes Tight Hip flexors?
For years we have blamed sitting. A theory that suggests sitting for prolonged periods would reduce the length and the strength of the muscle. This new shorted and weakened state would result in the feeling of tightness. Im not so sure this is possible! Can we sit for so long that our muscle actually shortens? hmm?? Certainly stretching our hip flexors does feel good. But it certainly wont INCREASE their length, if they were chronically shortened.
Another theory was overuse. The thought here was that repetitive heavy lifting caused these muscles to become tight and stay this way? The only problem with this theory is we know that strengthening is a primary tool used to rehabilitate and improve function? So why is this group of muscles special? Why don’t the hip flexors not improve with strength? But rather result in more pain and tightness? Does seem to add up does it?
Could it be muscles are weak? Are your hip flexors so weak, they are unable to tolerate the load we are asking them to bare?
Could it be a combination of both?
So what can be done?
While we wait for the researchers and scholars to pin point the exact cause, lets get to work on making you feel better.
Rather than looking for an exact cause, Let’s work with a combination of all the theories. I think this is a far better approach. Too often we look for the 1 magic bullet this is going to cure all our problems. This rarely is ever the case.
Hip Flexor Stretching:
In the video below we are using a dynamic movement to stretch the hip flexors. As per the video we are stretching the “STANCE” leg and not the leg that is placed on the chair or bench. Aim for 30-45 seconds in each direction.
Hip flexor strengthening:
This exercise looks like a simple exercise – but trust me, even adding a light weight band will test your form. Ensure your lower back remains flat on the ground as your leg extends out. You may need to play with the range and length you extend your leg, and slowly increase this as your strength develops.
- We are not 100% sure why we suffer with tightness in our hip flexors.
- Try not to look for that magic bullet, that 1 thing that cures all. It may be a combination of exercises, stretches and rest.
- You need to work out what works best for you? A simple trial and error approach needs to be taken. Try the above stretches and strengthening exercise for a few weeks and see if they make a difference.
When you have tightness in your hips it can be extremely frustrating. And it seems that finding a solution can be as frustrating. But persist, doing something is ALWAYS better than nothing.
At Equilibrium Sports and Spinal clinic we thrive on helping Glen Iris locals who are suffering with tight hip flexors. Our Osteopaths service Malvern, Glen Iris, Ashburton, Toorak, South Yarra, Hawthorn and Caulfield. Let us help you turn your hip flexors into a thing of the past!
Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .We are also more than happy to chat via our blue Drift Chat box in the bottom right hand corner.