Remember you were able to do a split anytime when you were little and now you can barely spread your legs more than 90 degree? Thanks to a desk job that puts our hips in a constantly flexed position, tight hip flexors are now almost a universal human experience.

In this article, we explore how tight hip flexors can affect our lives other than stiffness and what you can do to counter the effects of sitting down all day.

You might not have realized that you have tight hip flexors, yet. Here are some of the most common symptoms that point to tight hip flexors:

  • You have anterior pelvic tilt (butt sticks out more that it should).
  • You have lower back pain and/or knee pain.
  • The muscles in the front of your hip joints are sore to the touch.
  • You can’t freely move your hips while performing certain exercises like lunging, running or jumping.

How your hip flexors can affect more than your hips:

Dormant Butt Syndrome: Tight hips and weak glutes come hand in hand.

Let’s put this in simple words – locked up hip flexors put a limit on your hip mobility and strip away your ability to fully activate your glutes.

When your glutes are unable to provide the strength to drive hip extension, that’s when your lower back comes into play. It overarches to compensate for the work that your glutes should be doing and this results in an anterior pelvic tilt that can be commonly seen among women. (See Figure 2 above)

Injuries happen when a particular group of muscles do more work than they are built for. This posture places an excessive pressure on the anterior portion of your lumbar disc, which can lead to injuries such as slipped disc.

Your squat effort is not paying off.

Here is a good explanation of how tight hips can affect your booty goal. Since people with tight hips have a smaller range of motion, they tend to not fully extend their hips during squats (see Figure 1 above), which results in minimal glute engagement. This also explains why it is harder to engage your glutes in squats than in other glute-focused exercises.

It seems inevitable for lower back to be the punching bag for tight hip flexors.

Bad knees

You may be surprised that tight hips are the common root of knee injuries. Shorten hip and glute muscles allow an internal rotation of your thigh and put excessive stress on your knee joint. It does not end there, this misalignment of your entire kinetic chain (neck, spine, hip, knee and ankle) can lead to more severe injuries.

Urinary incontinence

Muscle imbalance from tight hip flexors can increase the risk of urinary incontinence from pelvic floor dysfunction. Statistics show an estimated 17% of women over 18 years old experience urinary incontinence, and this percentage increases with age, especially among female runners.

Higher risk of getting a hip labral tear

A hip labral tear is an injury of the cartilage within your hip joint. It can be caused by an extreme rotation in the hip from childbirth process, aging or wear and tear from repetitive sport activities like running and cycling.

Test your hip mobility:

Why Your Hip Flexor Health is Vital

  • It gives you a better range of motion in your daily life.
  • It helps alleviate, eliminate or prevent lower back pain through a good posture.
  • It improves your strength and power performance with a higher level of glute activation.
  • It slows aging process through a stronger core and the ability to walk longer.
  • It spices up your love life by improving your sexual performance.
  • It eases your menstrual cramps.

Lastly, it helps grow your booty faster! Happy hips allow a greater glute engagement which means your glute muscles will get stronger AND bigger!

                
                

Lindell ( @stretchylicious) is making us hip-envy with her series of bendy poses!

Outfit: Battle Sports Bra | Power Crop Tights

Who should stretch their hip flexors?

Literally every single one of us should do it!

Runners, cyclists and dancers who perform repeated extreme movements of the hips will benefit greatly from this too as a mobile and flexible hips can have a significant influence on their performance.


Main question - what to do to unlock your hip flexors?

It is not impossible to regain your long-lost hip mobility and flexibility, here's what we can do:

1. Stretch to unlock your hip flexors.

2. Hip strengthening exercises to wake your glutes up from deep sleep.

However, if you have persistent pain in your hips, we'd recommend you visit a doctor or physiotherapist before you do any of the following stretches or exercises.


Here is a series of stretches/yoga poses you can do to unlock your hip flexors:

Supine pigeon pose

Tips: Keep your front foot flexed in this pose. By doing that, muscles around the knee joint are flexed to protect your ligaments from too much stress.

Seated piriformis stretch

Tips: You can use your elbow to massage your inner thigh at the same time. This is a quick and simple stretch for you to relieve the tension at your desk.

Butterfly pose

Tips: Start at an angle you are comfortable with, slowly pull your feet towards you as you breathe while keeping your knees on the ground.

Frog pose

Tips: It is quite common to feel uncomfortable holding in this position. You can move forward or rock your hips back and forth in a slow manner. Do not try to force yourself into too much pain or stretch too quickly. The stretch should always be a pleasant one.

Happy baby pose

Tips: Those without enough flexibility tend to lift their neck in this pose. Try grabbing your ankles or shins instead of your feet so that you can rest your neck on the mat, or place a blanket under your neck.

Deep squat hip stretch (Garland pose)

Tips: Push your elbows against your inner knees and make sure your heels are on the ground to lengthen your inner thighs. Then, lift and lengthen your torso to keep your spine straight.

Lizard pose

Tips: This pose can be quite intimidating for those who belong to the tight-hip club. A few postures including Low Lunge, Frog Pose and Happy Baby Pose can help you prepping into the Lizard Pose. Keep your neck in a neutral position and use two yoga blocks if your forearms cannot make it to the mat.

Scorpion stretch

Tips: Let your leg swing as far as it comfortably can and pause for a few seconds before returning to the starting position. Make sure you keep your core engaged.

Kneeling hip stretch (Low lunge)

Tips: You can start from holding a Runner’s Lunge (lifted back knee) for a few breaths, then slowly lower your knee to the mat. Place a blanket under your back knee if it is uncomfortable. If you wobble side to side, use a wall to assist you. Lift your chest but do not arch your back. You can deepen your stretch with a raised back foot (see next pose).

Kneeling hip and quad stretch

Tips: Make sure you are stabilized in the Low Lunge before you grab your back foot. Press your hip forward to stretch your hip and quads while keeping your glutes squeezed, to avoid hyperextension of your lower back.

Seated straddle split

Tips: Split your legs as wide as you can. Put your hands on the mat in front of you and lean your body forward. Another option to deepen your stretch is doing it facing a wall.

Foam Roll

A few minutes of foam rolling after your workout or before you go to bed can bring you a major relief.

Tips: Apply pressure into the crease of your hip and roll back and forth. If you find a tender spot, stay there and apply more pressure until tension is relieved. Got to start loving those “good” pain!


Hip Strengthening Exercises:

Lateral Squat

Donkey Kick

Side-lying Clam

Lying Hip Abduction

Fire Hydrant

Glute Bridge

Pistol Squat

Superman Hold

How often should you stretch?

Although you will notice a significant relief of tension after a session or two, it is likely that your hips will be tight again on the next day.

Try to make it a routine, even just a 10-minute session before bed 2-3 days a week will bring you a great deal of health benefits in long term.

Important notes

Damages are usually done when we perform our daily activities mindlessly. Try to bring mindful attention to your daily movements, from how you stand to how you walk. Not only it can help reduce the chance of injury and improve your posture, it also does wonder to your mind.


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