Have you ever felt discomfort in your hip flexors but stretching doesn’t seem to help? It’s common to confuse weak hip flexors for tight hip flexors; however, many people actually experience both. Sedentary lifestyles that include lots of sitting leave the hip flexors in a constant state of contraction, causing tightness. Also, due to a lack of exercise the hip flexor complex is weak in many cases.
What exactly are “hip flexors” anyway?
As trainers, when we use the term hip flexors, we’re referring to any of the soft tissues that work to flex the hip joint. It’s a group of five muscles, their main function is to flex the leg and knee towards the upper body, think of standing up straight and raising one knee towards the chest. Chronic pain and postural distortions are common with de-conditioned hip flexors because of their attachments.
The hip flexor complex attaches at the spine, pelvis and femur, therefore a disruption creates imbalance all over the body and inhibits normal movement patterns. In addition, the psoas major (one of the hip flexors) is one of only two muscles that connects the upper and lower body. These attachments affect the body’s ability to stand up straight, flex the trunk laterally, and even get up from the ground.
The hip flexors are vital for normal movement patterns and it’s important to determine if yours are functioning correctly. It’s a complex area of the body both in terms of “tasks” performed, and anatomy required. So it’s not surprising that is often a trouble spot for people. Read on to learn more about determining if it could be tight or weak hip flexors that are contributing to your difficulties.
How can I check what might be wrong?
There are a few major signs of poor hip flexor health. For example, tight hip flexors tilt the pelvis anteriorly (forward, as if a bowl is spilling) which causes an unnatural curve of the spine called hyperlordosis. Another job of the hip flexors is helping stabilize the lower back, so a weakness in these muscles compromises core strength and alignment in the body. Other symptoms include low back pain especially after sitting, weak abdominals, and of course discomfort in the hips.
Even if you don’t experience any of these symptoms it’s important to find out if you have proper hip flexor health since not everyone will show these signs.
There are two easy tests for hip flexor strength and flexibility, they can be performed anywhere without equipment.