Tight hip flexors are a very common problem, but how do you know if you have tight hips and what can you do about it if you do?
What are the hip flexors?
The hip flexors are muscles in the hip, including the iliopsoas, rectus femoris, tensor fasciae latae and the sartorius, which connect the leg to the hip and move and stretch the hip enabling you to walk, lean forwards at the waist and raise your legs.
What causes tight hip flexors?
Sitting at a desk all day and leading a sedentary lifestyle can lead to your hips feeling tight and tense. Sitting for long periods of time cause the iliopsoas muscles to relax and become tighter and inactive which leads to the muscle becoming weaker and shorter. Some people are just more likely to have tight hip flexors regardless of whether they exercise regularly or not.
Can tight hip flexors lead to other problems?
Yes, tight hips can lead to bad posture and can cause issues and pain in the lower back, knees and feet and can increase the risk of injury due to the increased pressure on muscles that aren’t working effectively.
Signs that you have tight hip flexors.
The hips are tender or sore when touched or pressed.
The leg is misaligned when standing. The tight muscle will pull the pelvic bone forwards affecting how the thigh bone and lower leg line up, causing the knee to twist inwards. This can happen with the feet, where the ankle and foot will also twist inwards.
You feel a pinch or twinge when lying flat and pulling one knee towards your chest. The joint space in the hip socket is greatly reduced when you have tight hip flexors which, in turn, reduces the range of motion that you have, causing a pinch at the end of the movement.
One foot turns out more than the other (the hip muscles (iliacus and psoas) assist with external rotation of the hip). Lie flat on the floor and allow your legs and feet to relax and turn out to the side. If one foot turns out more than the other, then your hip flexors are likely to be tighter on that side.
Your hip may click or pop. Lie flat on your back and slowly lift and lower your leg and move it round in circles. If you hear a pop or a click it means that the muscles aren’t lengthening enough to slide over the hip joint.
Should you be concerned if you have tight hip flexors?
Yes, tight hip flexors can greatly impede the muscles which extend the hip, therefore putting extra strain on the lower back and knees, causing issues in the lower back, hips, knees, and feet. Luckily there are things that you could and should do to relieve tight hip flexors.
How to reduce the tightness in your hip flexors. Tightness can be reduced by incorporating small changes into your daily lifestyle and adding in hip flexor stretches.
If you sit for long periods of time, make sure that you take regular breaks to move around and walk, even if it is just around the house.
Yoga is a great way to increase strength, improve mobility and loosen tight hips.
Stretches are great for loosening tight hip flexors. Hold for at least 30 seconds per side, but up to 1-2 minutes if you can. Try the following:
- Pigeon Pose – Start in a plank position on your forearms and twist your right leg and place on the ground so that your foot is on the left side of your body and your knee is in line with your right elbow. Lower your head towards the ground if you can and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Repeat 5 times on each side.
- Spiderman – Start in a plank position and step your right foot forwards to the outside of your right hand. Hold for 10 seconds and return to the plank position. Repeat 5 times on each side.
- Kneeling Hip Stretch – Start by kneeling on your right leg with your left leg bent at 90°, your foot on the floor and your hands resting on your bent leg. Push your hips forwards, keeping your back straight and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute on either side. Repeat 5 times on each side.
- Butterfly Stretch – Sit on the floor and grab your ankles, pulling your feet towards your groin. Keep your back straight and gently use your elbows to push your knees towards the floor for a deeper stretch. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Sit and Reach – Sit on the floor with one leg straight and out to the side and the other foot bent in towards your groin. Bend forwards and reach towards the foot of the straight leg, grabbing the toes with your hands and holding the stretch for 30 seconds before repeating on the other side. Repeat 5 times on each side.
You can also use a roller to ease out tension in tight hips. Start in a plank position on your forearms with the roller underneath your right hip and bend your left leg out to the side at a 90° angle. Slowly roll backwards and forwards on the roller, focusing on any tense areas, for up to 30 seconds before repeating with the other leg.
Mobility and flexibility can be improved at any age by stretching and strengthening exercises, so try these stretches today and use it or lose it 😊
Visit us at W Fitness to see how we can help incorporate stretching into a strength building programme to keep you feeling strong, energetic and healthy!
Please speak to your doctor before starting any stretching programme if you have any injuries or have had surgery.
Caroline & Hannah xx