Tips To Relieve Tight Hips Flexors
By Ben Walker
The word “hip flexors” refers to a muscle group that is located at your hips and pelvic area. The function of these muscles is primarily hip flexion and extension. The ability of how our legs and trunk move together. Movements that would be a great example would be lifting our knees or bending our hips.
The hip flexors include four muscles:
- Iliopsoas (psoas, iliacus)
- TFL – Tensor Fasciae Latae
- Rectus Femoris
“Tight Hip Flexors” is a common term heard amongst fitness professionals. The issue is mostly triggered by inactivity of these muscles.
We generally lose the function by sitting for long periods of the day and being completely sedentary. It’s the lack of using of our hip flexors that causes them to become tight and immobile.
When it comes to exercising, hip flexors are muscles that need constant attention, much like doing core work. People generally tend to neglect training these muscles for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, they don’t have aesthetic appeal. Unlike your legs, quads or gluteal muscles, your hip flexors aren’t going to change how you look in the mirror. Furthermore, if becoming very tight, they can be quite painful to train for some individuals due to reduced range of motion.
From a functional perspective, having tight hip flexors will affect your performance in the gym. The hips assist in performing many compound and free weight exercises including squats, lunges etc.
Besides that, our hip flexors are vital for performing general everyday tasks. Going for long hikes, sitting and standing, picking up items off the desk or the floor. All these basic activities stem from the hips.
How Do I Identify Tight Hips?
It’s important to carefully identify the symptoms of having tight hip flexors.
Signs tend to include pain and irritability in the groin area, located on the inside of the upper leg. Pains and aches can also occur in your lower back, especially when sitting and standing.
Other signs could include:
- Discomfort lifting your knees
- Pain in the gluteal muscles
- Neck Tightness
- Bad Posture
There is a test that can be performed at home or at a local therapist for assessing tightness. This assessment is named the Thomas Test:
First, make sure to have a firm elevated surface such as a table or bench. Lying on your back, bring one knee towards your chest and hold it there. Let the other leg extend and relax over the side of the table, lowering it as close to the floor as possible.
If either leg cannot completely lower to the surface on either side, you are experiencing tight hip flexors either on the left or right hand side.
Exercise Tips For Tight Hips Flexors
Basic/Dynamic Warm Up
Before performing any strength exercises for the hips, its best to start with a dynamic warm up. This helps loosen the hip flexors and increase blood flow to the muscles to help performance and avoid injury.
A basic warm up on basic cardio machines such as light running, elliptical or stationary bike will not prepare your hips for resistance training. This will only signal your body for performing exercise that is irrelative. A basic warm up is only beneficial before a dynamic warm up to get the circulation active.
The dynamic warm up should mimic movements that are going to be performed on your hip flexors. This helps to extend the range of motion of the muscles during performance.
Tip: Start with a basic warm up for 5 minutes before proceeding to dynamic warm up.
DYNAMIC WARM UP - HIP FLEXORS AND SUPPORTING MUSCLES
The dynamic warm up should be roughly 8-10 minutes in duration. It is important to target the assisting muscles as well as your hip flexors. This further enhances motor function, flexibility and reduces the potential risk of injury.
Here are some dynamic exercises for warming up the lower extremities:
- Standing Hamstring Curls (Alternating Left/Right)
- Knee Lifts
- Side Shuffles
- Jumping Jacks (Trying To Get A Good Extension)
STRENGTH EXERCISES FOR YOUR HIPS AND SUPPORTING MUSCLES
Since your hip flexors are a network of functional muscles that perform many complex movements, they require a consistent strength-training program.
Performing strength exercises that promote flexibility and involve multiple supporting muscles are the most beneficial routines.
Here are strength exercises that improve your balance, coordination and flexibility:
- Clam Shells
- Leg Lifts
- Side Squats
- Walking Lunges
- Hip Thrusts
SUPPLEMENTS THAT CAN HELP WITH MUSCLE AND JOINT FUNCTION
Diet will always be important for any chronic pain, muscle or joint issue. There are many supplements that can assist exercise in joint recovery. Speaking to the wellness experts at Passionate About Food, they mentioned that an anti-inflammatory diet is very efficient for healing after exercise. They highly recommended eating a variety of foods that contained Omega 3 and Omega 6. Supplements recommended include:
- Vitamin D & E
- Omega 3 & 6
- Glucosamine Sulfate
- Cranberry Juice
- Green Tea
Also, if including an anti-inflammatory diet, its important to stay hydrated. Hydration is crucial in joint and muscle recovery, especially when consuming a lot of diuretics.
About The Author
This information was brought to you by London Fitness and Passionate About Food, great friends of the wellness associates of Trans4mind. We look forward to bringing you more health and wellness advice very soon. Thank you for reading.