Written by Hannah Dykstra
The awareness of the negative effects caused by sitting on the human body and pain is becoming greater, which is by all means fantastic. This awareness forces a consciousness which allows people to want to spend time in the couch stretch “stretching” those hip flexors in hopes that their hips will “loosen” up. More often than not, after putting your body though passive range of motion, you will feel “loosened up,” but for how long? These passive stretched are essentially a cover up for the real issue at hand. I have mentioned this in an earlier blog, that a tight muscle is a weak muscle. We need to address the weakness at hand before instead of masking symptoms.
Simple anatomy of the hip flexors involves the core. The illiopsoas is the muscle notorious for being “tight.” This is because is it composed of two muscles; the poses and the iliac that both insert on the hip. The Psoas originates on the lumbar spine (low back) and the iliac originates in the iliac fossa (hip bone). The TFL (tensor Fascia Latea) originates on the ASIS (anterior portion of the iliac crest) and inserts onto the IT band. The rectus femoris also inserts onto the pelvis and aids in hip flexion.
Although each muscle aids differently, they all play a vital role in hip flexion as well as anterior rotation of the pelvis and extension of the low back. The most common issue associated with back pain and lack of stabilization is a weakness of the posterior muscle due to its attatchment to the lumbar spine.
If you have been told repeatedly that you have “tight hip flexors,” but you can hold a fairly decent Thomas stretch or couch stretch, you might want to consider the reason they are tight. A majority of people who fall under this category have increased the tone of the muscle tension due to a weakness in core stability. Therefore, we must be able to decrease the tone of the muscle in order to find the instability to therefore make it stable. The stronger the core, the less the hip flexors will take all of the load.
How do we strengthen this portion of out core? First, release the Psoas muscle and secondly, perform hip flexor strengthening exercises. Perform around 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps of the following exercises:
Straddle Straight Leg Raises
Pike Straight Leg Raises