Tight hip flexors…or WEAK hip flexors?

Much more than we used to, our society now spends much more time sitting…sitting at work, sitting while driving, sitting while eating, sitting while watching TV or using the computer. Many people default to doing stretches for the front of the hip in order to get rid of their tight hip flexors, when really, many times, this tightness is because the hip flexors are weak. If you have tried stretching and foam rolling your hips without noticing much of a difference, then these exercises could surprise you by how effective they are.

The first thing you want to do is to test your hip flexor strength. DO THIS ON BOTH SIDES. Stand tall, and pull one of your knees as far as you can to your chest with both hands, then slowly let go of your knee with both hands and try and hold this position for 10 seconds. Does your knee stay in the same exact spot after you let go? Or does it drop down a few inches? Or does it slowly get lower over the 10 seconds? If your knee dropped down at all, this could indicate weakness in your hip flexors.

Not all tight muscles need to be stretched. Quite often, a muscle is tight because it is protecting you against injury because it is weaker than it should be. Try these exercises consistently for a month and see if you notice a difference in how tight your hip flexors feel.

Standing Marches:
Grab a small loop band and place it around both feet. Stand tall and keep your core engaged. Raise one leg up, like you are marching, without letting your torso move, then lower back down. Repeat on the other leg, alternating sides. Try 2-3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Marches in a Bridge:
You can do a similar exercise lying down. Place the band around your feet and place your feet up on a box or bench. Raise your hips off the ground so you are in a glute bridge, then slowly bring one knee towards your chest and back. Alternate legs. Do not leg your hips drop down towards the ground or let your back arch. Try 2-3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Isometric Hip Flexor Marches:
If the marches in a bridge were a little tough, try this isometric exercise for your hip flexors. Lie on the ground with the band around your feet. Lift legs off the ground into a 90 degree angle (90/90 position). While keeping one leg still, kick the other leg out straight, and then slowly come back to starting position. Alternate legs. Try 2-3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Single Leg Glute Bridges:
Similar to regular glute bridges, but with one leg. Try grabbing one knee and pulling to towards your chest with your hands to keep your back flat, then with the bent leg, push through your foot and lift your hips off the ground as high as you can go without arching your back. Make sure to keep hips level. Try 3 sets of 10 reps on each side. These are also great exercise to do as a warm-up before you exercise.

Dr. Lassiter

Author Dr. Lassiter

More posts by Dr. Lassiter