Do the front of your hips feel tight or achy? Maybe your chiropractor or physical therapist has told you that you have tight hip flexors, but what does that even mean?
Extremely tight hip flexors not only affect your hip joints but your back and knees.
Continue reading to learn the possible causes of your tight hip flexors and how to loosen them up.
What Even Is a Hip Flexor?
Your hip flexor is a group of muscles that let you bend walk, kick, and otherwise move at your hip joint. They connect your upper thigh to your hips. Tight hip flexors can result in back pain, knee pain, and of course hip pain.
10 Reasons for Extremely Tight Hip Flexors
Causes of tight hip flexors range from inactivity, too much activity, and your body’s overall structure. If your hip flexors are tight, chances are it’s because of one of the following reasons.
1) You Have a Desk Job
Whether your back in the office or working from home, if you are sitting at your desk from 9-5 and only getting up for lunch, you probably have tight hips. As we sit for long periods of time, our hip flexors
A common fix for those working desk jobs is to get up and stretch every 30 minutes or so. Get a drink of water, go pet the dog, do something to get out of your chair.
2) You Travel for Long Hours (Plane or Car)
If you commute for long hours or frequently take long plane rides, this could be the root of your tight help flexors.
While you may not be able to get up and stretch as you would at work, make sure you take the time to stretch your legs and hips after traveling.
3) Overall, You’re Sitting for Too Long
You may be thinking, “I’m on my feet all day at work, and my hip flexors still hurt. What gives?”
Think to yourself, after a long day of work, do you sit on the couch for hours binging a TV show? Sitting is still sitting even if it’s not for work!
4) You Might Be Exercising TOO Much (Overuse)
You could also be feeling pain in your hip flexors from overuse. Overuse can result in tears or strains. In this case, the best thing you can do is rest and ice the area.
5) You’re Not Stretching Before or After Running
When you run, you are constantly contracting the hip flexor muscles without ever extending them. This, in turn, tightens the muscles.
Because of this constant contraction, it’s imperative that you stretch before and after running. Stretching before running gets the hips warmed up and stretching afterward gives relief to your hip flexors.
6) You Have Bad Form When Walking or Running
Yes, there is such a thing as bad form when walking. Subconsciencely, you may be overcompensating for weak glutes or other tight areas by placing tension on your hip flexors. It’s possible that you may be walking with bad posture, which then trickles down to your hips.
7) You’ve Started a New Heavy Lifting Routine
Lifting exercises like deadlifts and squats might leave your hips feeling tight if you aren’t properly warming up and cooling down. You might be feeling the lifting in your hips due to weak glutes and lower-body muscles.
8) You Have a Tipped Pelvis
A tipped pelvis is one part of your overall posture. You can see if you have an anterior pelvic tilt by doing the Thomas Test.
9) You Have Weak Glutes
When your glutes are weak, your body relies on the hip flexors for simple movements like walking and sitting down. Over time, this tightens up your hip flexors if you are working on stretching your hip flexors or strengthening your surrounding areas.
10) You Have Tight Hamstrings
Tight hamstrings pull on your hip flexors. To remedy this, you will need to stretch both your hamstrings and hip flexors.
How to Loosen Up Tight Hip Flexors
Your tight hip flexors might be the result of multiple reasons from above. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for all hip flexor issues. After pinpointing the root cause of your tight hips, try out the following stretches and strength exercises.
Stretches for Tight Hips
Try out some of the following stretches to loosen up your hip flexors.
Low Lunge: extend your left leg behind you and bend your right leg at a 90-degree angle, making sure to have the calf perpendicular to the floor. Bend the back knee so that the knee touches the floor. From here, you can keep both hands on the floor or bring them up to the right knee. Repeat on the other side after a few cycles of breath.
Butterfly: Sitting on the floor, bring the bottoms of your feet to touch. From here, let your knee drop to the side, letting gravity push them down.
Standing hip-flexor and quad stretch: While standing, transfer your weight to the right foot. Bend your left leg so that your knees still touch and your foot is behind you. Catch your left foot in your left hand and pull your foot into your glutes. Repeat on the other side.
Check out one of our previous blog posts for more stretches for tight hips.
If your tight hip flexors are from weak surrounding muscles, you need to start strength training. Try out these quick exercises to get you going.
Mountain climbers: While in a plank position, start driving your knees forward one at a time. Set a timer and see how long you can go. This exercise also builds core strength.
Glute bridges: Start lying on your back with your knee bents and feet on the floor. Your legs should be hip-distance apart. Slowly, tuck your pelvis and lift your hips and squeeze your glutes. Slowly lower down.
Skating Squats: This exercise both strengthened your glutes and lengthens your hip flexors. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and squat. As you come up from the squat, extend the right leg back. Return to the squat position and repeat on the other side.
Add these exercises to your daily routine and slowly you’ll start to feel stronger. This added strength will ease the tightness of your hip flexors.
Extremely Tight Hip Flexors Can Be Fixed
The first step to fixing extremely tight hip flexors is knowing the root cause. Knowing what’s causing your tight hips helps street you into possible stretches and solutions. Hopefully, one or many of the exercises from above gives you some relief.
Interested in individual physical therapy for your body? Then reach out to ReVITALize Rehab Club. Our team provides a holistic approach to get you feeling better.