As a physical therapist I see lots of pains, aches, injuries, and muscle imbalances each and every day. One of the top five most common things I see is tight hip flexors.
I see this in desk jockeys who work all day and barely move from a seated position, quad-dominant lifters who don’t know how to properly engage their glutes, and everyone in between. It always seems like I’m talking tight hip flexors and what to do about them.
Today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite hip flexor stretches. But first, you need to understand this isn’t a standalone fix for the problem. How to truly fix your tight hip flexors is really quite simple, but involves two steps: you need to fix your muscle imbalances and (probably) stretch out those hip flexors like I’m about to show you.
First, keep your body upright and rotate your hips under. Then. squeeze your glutes and move forward at the hips.
1. Fix Your Muscle Imbalances
I’m just going to briefly touch on this because this will look different for each person. But know that if your hip flexors are or always feel tight, there is a reason. Muscles don’t get tight with no cause, and it’s usually because they are compensating for a weakness elsewhere or are constantly in a shortened position (as is the case with sitting).
“Frequent causes include weakness in the posterior chain, inadequate core stability, and poor alignment and motor control, or a combination of these factors.”
If you want to lose the tight hip flexors, you have to get to the root of the problem. Get assessed by a physical therapist or movement specialist and identify your weak point. Frequent causes include weakness in the posterior chain, inadequate core stability, and poor alignment and motor control, or a combination of these factors.
2. Stretch Your Hip Flexors
The reason I said above that you probably need to stretch your hip flexors is because not everyone really does need to. Though it is true most people can benefit from stretching their hip flexors, there are some people who simply have poor motor control and therefore have the sensation of tight hip flexors without actually having them.
“Muscles don’t get tight with no cause, and it’s usually because they are compensating for a weakness elsewhere or are constantly in a shortened position.”
But back to the majority who more than likely could benefit from a good hip flexor stretch. Here is my favorite one:
- Get into a half-kneeling position, with your back leg being the one you are about to stretch.
- Hold a stick, dowel, or foam roller in front of you and actively push it down into the ground. This is a small, but important, step as it engages your core and forces the stretch to happen where we want it to.
- Keep your body upright and posteriorly rotate your pelvis (think: squeeze your glutes as hard as you can). Almost everyone I have worked with can actually feel a stretch at this point, without even taking it further.
- Then, keeping your pelvis rotated, glutes squeezed, and body upright, lean forward at the hips, holding at the end for no more then 2 seconds.
- Return to the start and repeat 8-10 x per leg
Adjusting Where You Feel the Stretch
The best thing about this stretch is that you can easily adjust where you feel it simply by changing the position of your foot. First, try bringing your foot inward (effectively externally rotating your hip), and repeat the same sequence of instructions. Then, do the same with turning your foot out (internally rotating the hip). Wherever you feel the biggest stretch is likely the version you should be doing more of.
So there you have it. A super easy, straightforward, and virtually foolproof way to stretch out your hip flexors. Give it a shot and I doubt you will regret it!
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