Hip Flexor Mobility: The Essentials

A feeling of "tightness" in the front of the hip is a very common symptom I hear in the general and gym populations. Many individuals search for the perfect stretch or mobility drill that they need to target the location and often this feels amazing in the short term. However, the feeling of tightness inevitably comes back leading to a feeling or needing to perform the stretch excessively throughout the day.

The first question we need to ask ourselves is why is this feeling of tightness in the hip flexors so common? Obviously there are a variety of factors that likely contribute and every individual has a different set of circumstances. In general, however, it is becoming increasingly more and more common to be in a seated position for longer and more frequently than in the past - even more so since the pandemic.

One consequence of this is that out hips are spending more time in hip flexion (knees closer to the chest) than previously. This means the hip flexor muscles are spending more time in a shortened position AND they also do not have to work very hard throughout our day. In other words, our hip flexor muscles get comfortable, content, and lazy in our normal day-to-day lives. We need to actively combat this with targeted exercises. Check out this video for some ideas to get started.

Now, I'm definitely not saying their isn't a place for dedicated hip flexor stretching or that it is completely a waste. It is important to get the hips into extension and reverse the seated position and our traditional hip flexor stretches are one way to do that.

One aspect that I think is often neglected in the amount of knee bend (flexion) that was add to a hip flexion stretch. A portion of the quadricep muscle is a hip flexor as well. Therefore, a "true" hip flexor stretch that includes all hip flexor muscles looks more like the couch stretch demonstrated in the video.

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