Fixing Tight Hip Flexors

Fixing Tight Hip Flexors

The pelvis is a central pillar of everybody's posture, the focal point between the lower and upperportions of the body. Imbalances of this structure affect how your legs and torso interact whenyou stand and move.

The pelvis plays a vital role in the transfer of energy between your upper and lower body. A closer look at the anatomy of the structure shows the involvement of many muscles from all directions. 

  • Muscles attached all around the upper leg ranging from the glutes and hamstrings to the quadriceps and adductors amongst others. 
  • Every abdominal muscle  
  • The latissimus dorsi and quadratus lumborum of the lower back. 

The balance between these muscles is critical in the stability of the pelvis. Weakness and tightness anywhere along the chain will pull the structure out of place. This dynamic explains why health professionals test for both then suggest strength and mobility exercises as a solution.  

The problem with this approach is that it misses the root cause of the issue. You address the symptoms, yet whatever caused the muscles to be tight or weak remains.  

When addressing biomechanics with a biomechanical approach, we tend to forget that the very tissues we are working on are hooked up to the brain. 


Feet and Pelvis

The feet serve as the body's foundation, and any abnormalities or dysfunction there can have an impact on the pelvis as well as the rest of the kinetic chain.

The body adjusts its alignment and movement patterns when the feet are not operating properly, such as when there is limited mobility or stability. As a result, the pelvis may tilt either forward or backward, unbalanced hip flexors being the outcome.

For instance, if a person has flat feet, their ankles may become unstable and their feet may have a tendency to roll inward (pronate). The tibia bone (shinbone) may rotate inward as a result, which may change how the knee and hip are aligned. The pelvis may tilt forward in this situation, leading to tight hip flexors.

Similarly excessive impact forces may go up the leg and into the pelvis if the feet are excessively inflexible or have high arches, making it difficult for them to efficiently absorb stress. Due to the pelvis tilting backward as a result of this, the hip flexors may get stiff.

 

Pelvic alignment


It's critical to address any imbalances or problems in the feet in order to treat hip flexor discomfort brought on by foot dysfunction. This can entail putting on the appropriate shoes, doing foot strengthening exercises, and, if necessary, getting assistance from a podiatrist or physical therapist. Stretching and strengthening exercises for the hip flexors can also help loosen up the body and enhance pelvic alignment.

Fortunately, there are several ways to address tight hip flexors.

Stretching: Regular stretching can help relieve tension in the hip flexors. One effective stretch is the lunge stretch. To perform this stretch, start in a lunge position with your back knee on the ground. Slowly shift your weight forward, keeping your front knee over your ankle, until you feel a stretch in your hip flexor. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

 

stretching
Foam rolling: Using a foam roller to massage the hip flexor muscles can help loosen them up. Lie face down on the foam roller with the roller positioned at your hip flexor. Slowly roll back and forth, targeting any areas of tension. Repeat on the other side.
squat

Strengthening exercises: Strengthening the muscles around the hip flexors can help alleviate tightness. One exercise to try is the clamshell. Lie on your side with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Keeping your feet together, lift your top knee up while keeping your hips stable. Lower back down and repeat for 10-15 reps on each side.


Take breaks from sitting: If you sit for prolonged periods, make sure to take breaks and stretch or move around periodically. This can help prevent tightness from setting in. 

 

Here are three exercises that can help alleviate tight hip flexors:

  1. Pigeon Pose: This yoga pose stretches the hip flexors and can be an effective way to release tension in this area.
  • Begin on your hands and knees.
  • Bring your right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist.
  • Slide your left leg back behind you, straightening it behind you.
  • Lower your upper body onto your forearms, feeling the stretch in your right hip.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Repeat on the other side.
Pigeon Pose

 

  1. Glute Bridge: This exercise strengthens the glutes and helps to stabilize the pelvis, which can improve hip flexor tightness.
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Engage your glutes and lift your hips up off the ground, forming a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds, then lower your hips back down.
  • Repeat for 10-15 repetitions.
glute bridge
  1. Lunges: This exercise strengthens the muscles around the hip and can help to alleviate tightness.
  • Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Step forward with your right foot and bend both knees to lower your body down into a lunge.
  • Make sure your front knee is directly over your ankle and your back knee is hovering just above the ground.
  • Push back up to standing and repeat on the other side.
  • Repeat for 10-15 repetitions on each side.
lunges

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to address foot and pelvis alignment issues and alleviate tight hip flexors.

Here are some tips to get you started:

 

1.Wear Proper Footwear: The right footwear can make a significant difference in foot function and alignment. Look for shoes that are flexible with no arch support, and avoid shoes with high heels or narrow toe boxes. 

proper footwear

 

2.Strengthen Your Feet: Weak foot muscles can contribute to imbalances and dysfunction in the feet, which can affect the pelvis and hip flexors. Incorporate exercises like toe curls, calf raises, and foot doming into your workout routine to improve foot strength and mobility.

 

big-toe-towel-scrunch

 

3.Stretch Your Hip Flexors: Tight hip flexors can benefit from targeted stretching. Try yoga poses like Pigeon Pose or Lunges, which can help release tension in the hip flexors and improve overall flexibility in the hips.

 

4.Strengthen Your Glutes: Strong glute muscles can help stabilize the pelvis and reduce the likelihood of compensations and imbalances that can lead to tight hip flexors. Try exercises like Glute Bridges or Squats to strengthen your glutes and improve your overall hip function.

 

Remember that addressing tight hip flexors is important for overall mobility and can help alleviate pain and discomfort. Incorporating these tips into your routine can help you maintain healthy hip flexors.

In addition, Therapeutic Insoles can be helpful with tight hips. They are designed to help improve the alignment and function of the feet, and reduce pain or discomfort associated with conditions such as plantar fasciitis, flat feet, high arches, and heel spurs, among others.rounded shoulders in as they improve foot alignment, encourage spinal alignment, and increase comfort and stability.

References:

  1. Nigg, B. M. (2001). The Role of Impact Forces and Foot Pronation: A New Paradigm. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 11(1), 2–9. https://doi.org/10.1097/00042752-200101000-00002
  1. McKeon, P. O., Hertel, J., & Bramble, D. (2015). Foot Pressure and Lower Extremity EMG: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Athletic Training, 50(11), 1102–1112. https://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-51.3.09
  1. Wei, S.-H., Sun, J., Nawoczenski, D. A., & Schmitt, L. C. (2018). Relationships between foot type, foot posture, and hip mechanics in children and adolescents with and without patellofemoral pain. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 48(7), 556–564. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2018.7987

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