What Are Hip Flexors
If your hips are sore or you have lower back pain, tight hip flexors may be to blame. Hip flexors are a group of muscles that help your hips and lower body move. If those muscles get tight, they can cause stiffness, pain, and other problems. Heres what you need to know.
Your hip flexors are a group of muscles near the top of your thighs. They include your:
- Iliacus and psoas major muscles
- Rectus femoris, which is part of your quadriceps
These muscles allow your hips to twist. They also help you walk, bend, kick, and lift your knees and legs.
Stretch Your Outer Thigh Muscles
Sometimes the most basic outer hip stretch is all you need. This beginner move may get you started releasing your hip abductor muscles. And going forward, it may well become a staple exercise in your regular routine.
When Should You Stretch Them
Here are 3 quick questions that can guide you to know if any stretch is worth doing or if it is wasting your time:
Is the muscle shortened or has it lost its normal range of motion?
When I stretch, does it improve my range or the way that I feel for an extended period of time?
Is the stretch pain free? – Obviously the answer to this one needs to be YES
If you answered YES to these then a stretch may help you with your range of motion or the tightness you are experiencing.
If you answered NO, then I do not think that stretching is going to give you the result you are after.
I would be asking a Physio who knows about functional movement, rehab and strength and conditioning to guide you to a better solution.
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How To Start Massaging
Now when you apply a self massage tool like a trigger ball, you have to take the approach of a seasoned Horse Tamer, gently, patiently, yet firmly guiding the wild horse into a tame stallion.
Whipping, frightening or causing pain to get it to submit is not the best solution. This will only cause more tension sensitivity.
What Are Your Hip Muscles
Your hip muscles include muscles in your upper thighs as well as your butt. Your hip flexors are a group of muscles along the front of your upper thigh, which include your iliacus, psoas major, and the rectus femoris . They help you flex your hipssay, when you perform the high knees exercise or even when you just walk or run.
Your gluteus maximus, as well as your hip abductor muscles , also make up the muscles in your hip area. While these butt muscles have different functions than your hip flexors, they also tend to work in tandem with them. Thats why, as youll see below, some of the stretches for hips that we mentioned work on those surrounding hip muscles as well.
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Are Tight Hip Flexors Contributing To Your Low Back Pain
Friday, Jul 15, 2016
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Adapted Seated Spinal Twist
You can adapt a spinal twisting move so that it also provides a gentle release for your outer hip.
If you have back problems, ask your healthcare provider or physical therapist if it’s OK to rotate your spine before trying this.
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Who Should I See For Lower Back Pain
Your primary care physician knows you best and should be your first contact for lower back pain. If he or she is unable to diagnose or treat the issue, you may get referred to a specialist, such as a rehabilitation physician . These specialists practice a comprehensive approach to lower back pain, and can diagnose and treat a variety of conditions that have lower back pain as a symptom.
Later, you may get referred to a physical therapist, a chiropractor or another practitioner depending on the nature of your back pain. The good news is that surgery is rarely needed for lower back pain. Only about one in ten patients needs lower back surgery, Chhatre says.
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Outer Hip Muscle Stretches For Low Back Pain Relief
Muscles located at the side of the hip, which include the gluteus medius, piriformis, and hip external rotator muscles contribute to posture and the well-being of your lower back. When these muscles get tight, as they often do, you may develop hip pain and lower back pain.
Tight outer hip muscles, also known as the hip abductors, can pull on the pelvis and slightly alter its position this, in turn, may influence the muscles that support the alignment of your spine.
The key is not to allow yourself to develop spinal misalignment. The best way to deal with low back pain that is caused or complicated by tight outer hip muscles is to stretch the muscles.
There are a number of ways to release and stretch these key posture muscles, and the most important thing is that you use them regularly.
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Reverse Active Straight Leg Raise
These Are The Reasons Why You Should Stop Stretching Your Hip Flexors
When stretching is PAINFUL – Stop immediately. Stretching is not the right tool for the job. This is a very strict enforceable rule that applies to any stretch.
They are LONG ENOUGH! – Your hip flexors MAY NOT NEED any additional range of motion, they may have too much range and not enough strength or control through their range. .
You Are NOT Stretching Muscle! You may be stretching the joint capsule at the front of the hip. This causes irritation and the body responds with tension, tightness and potentially pain in the hip flexors.
Sensitive Nervous System – You have sensitive nerves in the front of the hip that DO NOT like aggressive stretches. You have been told that the stretch feeling is muscle tension. In some cases it is nerve tension – and yes they do not like it.
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Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch With Rotation
Kneel on your right knee with your left leg forward and bent at 90 degrees. For balance, place your hands on your hips.
Contract your glutes to flatten your lower back and transfer your weight forward to increase the stretch in the front of your right leg.
Then cross your arms over your chest and turn your torso and upper body to the left.
Keep your glutes slightly contracted to avoid tilting your pelvis forward. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Then turn your torso and upper body to the right. Again, keep your glutes slightly contracted to avoid tilting your pelvis forward. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Switch legs and repeat.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your palms on your backside.
Lean back into your palms until you feel a gentle pull on the front of your hip flexors and gentle pressure in your lower spine. Inhale, exhale, then return to standing. This is one rep.
Continue for 10 to 20 reps.
Tip: Widen your stance if you feel unsteady.
Hip Flexor Tightness And Why It Is Killing Your Low Back
All of us have woken up from a long night sleep with that nagging pain through your lower back. We pull our knees to our chest.no relief. We try and rotate our lumbar spine hoping for our pain to reduce.nothing. Maybe its that pesky piriformis muscle we all keep hearing about. But none of this is alleviating the pain we are having.
What if that pain is stemming from a place very few of people associate with lower back pain? We need to look outside the box in order to track down the illusive nature of our pain. Enter the iliopsoas muscle, better known as the hip flexor. The iliopsoas runs from the front of our lumbar spine and hip bone to the front and top of our femur. This muscle being tight and bound down not only pulls our hip bone forward, but also pulls our lumbar spine into a hyperextended position increasing the joint pressure. Hence that nagging low back pain we just cant shake.
Cranking on our lower back to stretch out or performing only stability exercises such as pelvic tilts, crunches, or bridges can help out some aspects of lower back pain, but if you are not assessing your hip flexor mobility you could be missing the boat to fixing this problem. Core stabilization is a very important part of treatment and will assist with maintain decompression for the long term, but only if you are concominantly working to elongate tight and restricted soft tissues.
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Why Your Hips Feel Tight And Why Stretching May Not Be The Answer
What we commonly see happen, then, is overuse and strain on large muscles like the hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings . Your hip flexors may feel tight because they are working overtime to help provide stability not because they need to be stretched! The same thing goes for your hamstrings and quadriceps. Overuse of these large muscle groups may lead to strain in the muscles themselves, or at their attachments to bone. Not only that, but it can also lead to compression and irritation at multiple joints- hips, knees, pelvis or low back. For more info on treating your back, check out the best treatment for low back pain.
How To Work These Stretches And Exercises Into Your Routine:
The next time youre in the gym try adding these to your warm-up. You could even go a step further and begin adding them into a daily routine, multiple times a day if you can. The more frequently you address the problem, the quicker you will be to making it subside. If you have any questions, please ask Fitness Floor staff or a Personal Trainer. They can aid in applying these ideas to your workout and help you to gain the benefits of attending to the health of your hips and low back.
Rubin Dl. Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Spine Pain. Neurol Clin. 2007 May 25:353-71.
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You Feel A Pinch In The Hip Joint When Bringing Your Knee To Your Chest
Laying down and drawing one of your knees towards your chest can help you find out if there are any problems around your hip joint. When making this leg movement in a resting position, a pinch is a critical indicator of a tight psoas and iliacus.
Tight hip flexors cause a forward rotation of the pelvis, which effectively closes off the joint space in the hip socket. This reduces the range of motion the hip can move into flexion. As a result, you’ll get a pinch at the end. Releasing the tension in the hip flexors will diminish the pinch when re-performing this test.
Top Five Signs That You Have Tight Hip Flexors
There are several tests that can help you determine whether your hip flexors are tight or not. It’s important to note that while many people might suspect tight hip flexors are the problem, there may be other reasons contributing to the sensations they’re experiencing.
While the best option is to visit a medical practitioner for an in-person assessment, you can still find out for yourself. Here are 5 signs that indicate you have tight hip flexors .
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Symptoms Of A Hip Flexor Injury
What begins as tight hip flexors can eventually give way to:
- A sharp or sudden pain in the hip, pelvis or groin area
- Cramping, tender or sore muscles along the upper leg
- Swelling or bruising on the hips or thigh
- Pain in an adjacent muscle group, like your glutes or core
- Muscle spasms in the hips or thighs
- Reduced or a lack of mobility when you attempt to jump, kick or run
- Stiffness or tightness after youve been sitting for a long time
- Lower back pain
- Tightness around the neck
Tenderness When Pressing Into The Hip Flexors
You can also quickly tell how tight your hip flexors are simply by touching the spot while you are lying down. Happy muscles donât hurt when pressed on. The hip flexors should be relaxed when you’re at rest, but this won’t be the case if you have a tight psoas and iliacus muscle. Instead, theyâll remain at least partially contracted and it may feel like your lower back is arching too much off of the ground.
So lie on your back. Place your fingers on the front of your pelvic bone, and then start moving them inwards and press down into your body. If you feel tension there, it could signify that your hip flexors are tight and causing discomfort in the region.
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If Stretching Wont Relieve My Tightness What Will
Lets go back to the example of your shoulder, upper back and neck feeling tight after using a mouse for a few hours. Using a mouse isnt difficult, but it will eventually cause muscle fatigue which induces the sensation of tightness.
But if you strengthen the muscles involved, these minor activities which would usually tire them out become no big deal because you have increased their endurance and strength capacity, that means the muscle is no longer overworking when performing the previously challenging task.
Time and time again, Ive seen patients who were once tight and stiff feel almost complete relief from their symptoms after some targeted strength training.
This leads to an important note about strength. Being strong doesnt necessarily mean youre highly athletic or built like a superhero. Strength is personal, its your capability to comfortably meet the physical demands of your life.
Everyone should be strength training, whether you work at a desk, need to keep up with your kids or want to be able to stay active as you age.
So, if youre always feeling stiff or tight, its not time for you to stretch, its time for you to get stronger!
Kneeling Side Bend Stretch
Simple yet effective, the kneeling side bend stretches your hips, inner thighs, groin, and abdominals. Use a mat to prevent knee pain.
- Kneel on a mat with your legs together. Keep core tight and back straight.
- Extend right leg to the side . Extend left arm toward the ceiling and rest right arm on right leg.
- Slowly lean left arm and torso to the right until you feel a stretch. Your hips should remain facing forward.
- Hold for at least 30 seconds and up to 2 minutes.
- Repeat on the other side.
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