How To Unlock Tight Hip Flexors: 5 Easy Exercises . . .
You see, from desk workers to professional athletes, mostly everyone suffers from tight hip flexors at one point in their lives.
How do you know if you have tight hip flexors?
Well, if you suffer from back pain, have a funny twinge in your knee, or feel tension every time you do a crunch — then you might have a hip flexors muscles problem.
Understanding the underlying cause of the discomfort, you can take action and start your plan to unlock your tight hip flexors and regain mobility.
In this article, I’ll show you 5 practical exercises on how to unlock hip flexors muscles.
The list consists of the following:
- Pigeon Pose
- Seated Hip Stretch
- Kneeling lunge
So, if you’re seeking for relieving tightness and improve your overall performance in sports — then these hip flexors exercises are for you!
Thankfully, this guide helps you understand more about these muscles, how to correct problems, and how to minimize any future complications of them.
What Is A Hip Flexor Muscle?
All you need to know is any movement in which muscles bring bones closer together is described as “flexion“.
Pulling your legs toward your body — or lift your abs toward your legs?
Yep, that’s a flexion!
The several muscles responsible for these movements are located deep in the body. And that’s why you might never be aware of them — until you start feeling pain due to their overuse or tightness.
Let’s dive in and find more about the hip flexors muscles . . .
Firstly, you must know that the major muscles that do hip flexion are called the iliopsoas. The iliopsoas consists of the iliacus and the psoas major muscles.
The first one, the iliacus, begins at the top of your pelvis and connects to the femur.
The second one, the psoas major, starts in the lumbar area of your spine and stretches down to meet the same bone.
Besides the iliopsoas, several muscles also support the aid in movement. These muscles are called the sartorius, pectineus, and tensor fasciae latae.
Also, one quadriceps muscle, known as rectus femoris — crosses the hip joint and is also recognized as a hip flexor muscle.
What do these muscles do for you?
Every time you run, ride a bike, do a crunch, or participate in sports involving sprinting — the hip flexors muscles support all these movements.
And trust me, you need strong and flexible hip flexors so you can do all these exercises properly!
More than that, tight muscles increase your risk of injury and even worse –– can cause pain when you’re just resting.
Whare Are The Functions of Healthy Hip Flexors?
You might think you need to be an athlete to take care of your hip flexors muscles . . .
But you see, having a desk job should make you more concern about these muscles than athletes.
Any movement requiring bending over or pulling your knees toward your chest involves this group of hip muscles.
Need to hoist a basket of laundry?
Hip flexors muscles . . .
Crouch down to grab something off a shelf?
Hip flexors muscles again.
More than that, simply standing up also needs good hip flexors strength.
Another reason to consider strengthening the hip flexors is that having tight hip muscles puts more pressure on your lower spine.
What happens next?
Your posture suffers, and you’ll start feeling pain.
You see, these types of imbalances can lead to long life injuries and increase the risk of joint degeneration — if you develop arthritis as you get older.
Want to improve your squat or deadlift?
Strengthening the hip flexors will do the trick.
Why is that?
Well, hip flexors muscles help activate the hips and glutes — increasing the effectiveness of these movements.
Want to increase your jump, run faster, or lift more weight?
Then you shouldn’t neglect the deep muscles in your hips.
Why Are Your Hip Flexors Tight?
Firstly, the hip flexors muscles are designed to power your legs during your entire life.
Being a kid . . .
It was easy for you to run all day, jump around, ride your bike, or swim — without waking up in the morning and feeling like someone hit your back all night?
Then the question is — what went wrong?
You see, modern sedentary lifestyles, especially if you’re a desk worker, are mostly to blame for tight hip flexors.
Sitting for hours and hours deactivates the hip flexors muscles and causes them to get shorter — due to being in the same position for too long.
But don’t be sad . . .
Because even active people can suffer from this adaptive shortening if their sports require flexion, such as:
- Martial arts
- High-intensity sprinting
More than that, hip flexor problems are also caused by imbalances between hips and hamstrings.
That’s why you need to know how to stretch your hip flexors. Failing to do stretches after exercise or concentrating too much on the backs of your legs can let some hip muscles relaxed — while others continue to tighten.
How do you know if strengthening the hip flexors should be an option for you?
Well, if you experience the following symptoms, then you have your answer:
- Lower back pain
- Difficulty standing up straight
- Tender or stiff muscles in the hip region
- Upper groin pain
- Progressing dull pain to more severe discomfort
- Chronic hip tightness
- Weak abdominal muscles
- Anterior pelvic tilt
- Knee pain
Not addressing tight hip flexors muscles might lead you to a hip replacement in the future. This is why stretching these muscles is so important.
Not strengthening the hip flexors can also lead to iliopsoas tendinitis.
What’s this condition?
Well, iliopsoas tendinitis is a condition where hip flexors tendons get inflamed — which often shows symptoms of tenderness and hip socket “snapping”.
Constant strain on the hip flexors can make the muscles tear, making this condition to range from minor to severe — depending on the level of the injury.
How To Stretch The Hip Flexors More Effectively
By . . .
- making sure you warm your muscles before you get started
- holding each position for at least 30 seconds
- maintaining a regular breathing pattern
- staying in control of your body
- not pushing the stretch to a point where you feel pain
You should always do your deep stretches after your workout or as a separate session.
You don’t have to do them before exercise because that may increase your risk of injury.
Choosing a mat or other soft surface is the best option to protect your back and knees.
And remember . . .
ALWAYS talk to your doctor before you start any new kind of movement. That also includes deep stretching — so you discover the best regimen for your circumstance.
What Are The Best Exercises For Strengthening Tight Hip Flexors: How To Stretch Your Hip Flexors
This one’s my favorite.
You see, the pigeon pose targets your deep hip muscles and gives you a secondary stretch for the core.
Ar the start of the exercise, you begin in a low lunge position — with the right foot on the floor, and your knees bent at 90 degrees.
After that, you stretch your left leg behind, and balance on the ball of your left foot.
The next step is placing your hands on the ground on either side of your right leg. Then, easily walk your right foot toward your left hand, flex your toes and start bringing your right knee toward the ground.
While you do all these, you have to maintain the angle.
If it starts feeling uncomfortable, pull your right foot closer to the hip, then slide your left leg back until the thigh’s top rests on the ground.
Using your hands, lightly press up until your spine is upright. To deepen the pose, put your forearms on the ground and bend forward from your hips.
If you’re a flexible person, you should be able to rest your forehead on the ground.
But you can deepen the stretch even more . . .
By adding a simple twist.
You see, while you’re in the upright position, slowly start to bend your left knee.
After that, reach back and grab your foot with your left hand — and start pulling it as close as your flexibility allows. Release carefully, and avoid any snapping or swinging movements with the left let.
In the end, repeat the stretch on the opposite side.
This one’s the best for stretching out your knees and your groin area, but also the hips — making the butterfly a multi-purpose stretch.
While you do this movement, you should feel a profound relief in some commonly tight areas.
You begin this exercise by sitting upright with the bottoms of your feet together.
After that, take hold of your feet and guide them as close as you can to your body. You need to concentrate on drawing your legs into your hip sockets while you lengthen your spine.
For example, try imagining you’re trying to touch the crown of your head toward the ceiling. It may help.
So, once you’re sitting as upright as you can, start to push your knees to the ground actively. Pulling the toes up at the same time adds another dimension to the stretch.
If you want a more profound release in your hips, placing your elbows on your legs as you bend forward can be an option. Push down lightly, leaning just as far as you can without overextending your hips.
If it’s possible, try rounding your spine and bring the forehead toward the ground.
After that, roll back up to come back to a seated position.
Seated Hip Stretch
The seated hip stretch is good to do after a high-intensity cardio session or if you’ve spent all day sitting at work.
You begin by sitting straight with the soles of your feet together in front of you.
After that, pull your feet in until they’re about five inches away from your hips. Use your hands to do that
You see, this alters the butterfly position so you can target different parts of the hip area.
The next step is getting your spine upright, as you did for butterfly — concentrating on sitting as high as possible. Bend forward gently, keeping the length of your spine while you do it.
At this point, you should feel the stretch inside your hips. If the release is still mostly in your groin, sit back up and start moving your feet a few more inches.
In the end, round your hips forward slightly as you bend forward again.
In the seated hip stretch, you don’t want to round your back or attempt to force your head too far to the floor.
You should stop at whatever angle feels suitable for your current level of mobility.
This one’s interesting . . .
You’ll often see the bridge pose in yoga practices as part of backending series. And it’s good for both your hips and spine.
So, how do you start . . .
Firstly, lie down on your back.
The next step is placing your feet flat on the floor as far apart as your shoulders.
After that, begin to touch your heels with your fingertips — by bringing your heels to your glutes. If you’re not familiar with the bridge pose, place the arms and hand flat on the ground for additional support.
Thankfully, when you gain more flexibility, it will be more accessible to lift your hands while your elbows rest on the floor.
The next movement is to slowly lift your tailbone off the ground to raise your hips. You don’t need to push down on the floor with the arms as you lift.
Instead of that, push evenly into both right and left foot until your hips are as tall as possible. Keep this position, or try connecting your fingers collectively behind your back, and stretch your hands down to your heels.
So you can come down, unclasp your hands and gently roll the spine back to the floor.
You always have to pay attention to your knees as you stretch.
You see, incorrect positioning can put lots of strain on the knees, and can cause them to get out of alignment. Always keep the knees faced front and both legs parallel to each other.
The kneeling lunge is the stretch that allows you to focus on posture and fix any alignment problems before coming back to weighted exercises.
The first thing to do when you start the kneeling lunge is placing your left knee on the ground, and your right foot flat on the floor — while you bend the knee at 90 degrees.
If your left knee feels uncomfortable, you can try to put a small pillow under it for more support.
The next step is to place your hands on the hips — while you keep the head in alignment with your hip bones and lengthen your spine.
As you get deep in this stretch, you have 3 options:
- Keep your hands as they are.
- Move the hands to your knee.
- Reach one hand above your head.
The key thing is to choose your position before lightly pushing forward — while you maintain a flat back as you do that.
You should feel the stretch starting to shift into the hip flexors muscles.
How To Stretch Your Hip Flexors If You Have Looser Hips
You see, once you’re familiar with basic hip flexor stretches, you can perform the exercises in the videos below.
They can guide you through longer stretching methods so you can get a more profound release for both hips and lower back.
- The Best Stretches for Tight Hips and Hamstringswith Sean Vigue
- Deep Hip Opening Sequencefrom Yoga Journal
- Vinyasa Yoga for Lower Back Care: Deep Releasewith Fiji McAlpine
- Heavenly Hipswith Rachel Scott
- Hip Stretches and Twists Flexibility Routinefrom Sean Vigue
- Lower Back Stretches for Stiff Sore Musclesfrom Fitness Blender
- Open Your Hips and Flywith Crista Shillington
- Sean Vigue’s Best Hip Stretches for Wild Flexibility and Mobility
Remember, you always have to progress at your own pace, and work toward advanced hip flexors stretches — as your flexibility gets better.
Another key aspect is to avoid any movements in which pressure is put on your back. Always minimize those!
These movements include lengthy abs workouts requiring leg raises.
If you usually use to do squats or deadlifts — you should consider switching the movements or lowering the weight until a full range of motion is restored.
If you want to find out more exercises and gain more knowledge about tight hip flexors — I highly recommend the Unlock Your Hip Flexors Program.
I hope this article on how to unlock tight hip flexors was helpful, and if it was — don’t forget to share it with your friends!