OVERCOMING HIP FLEXOR TIGHTNESS

OVERCOMING HIP FLEXOR TIGHTNESS

In a culture that prizes long hours behind a desk, often bookended by a lengthy daily commute, it’s little wonder our bodies rebel by holding our muscles and joints in unnatural positions.

One of the most common outcomes we experience as a result of this “sitting” culture is chronically contracted, shortened hip flexors—primarily the psoas and/or iliacus muscle. Without proper attention, tight hip flexors can limit full hip extension range of motion (ROM) and make it difficult to walk, run, climb stairs or perform any activities that require full hip extension without pain or compensation.

So how do you determine the source of your hip pain or inhibited movement? The Thomas Test is a simple, easy to perform exam that can help you determine the source of your problem and choose the correct exercise sequence to address it.

Test Position: Lie on your back on a treatment table, stabilizing the pelvis. Hug one of your knees, pulling it into your chest. The opposite leg will hang straight and partially off the table. This is the tested leg.

How the tested leg responds to this position can tell you where your limitations lie.

One joint tightness

If the source of your problem is tightness in the psoas and/or iliacus muscle (anterior chain), the tested leg will be unable to touch the table.

Two joint tightness:

If the knee on the affected leg is extended over 90-degrees but the hip lies flat against the table, it is likely that the rectus femoris (quadriceps) has become shortened and overly contracted.

For One Joint Hip Flexor:

Exercise: Place the knee of the affected hip on the floor directly under the hip. The opposite knee is bent with the foot firmly planted on the floor. Tuck your pelvis under, draw the lower ribs down towards the front of the pelvis to engage abdominals. Squeeze your glutes.

You should feel a stretch at the front of the thigh as the hip flexor lengthens. Stay in this position for 5-10 breaths.

Lie on your back with both knees bent.  Place a lacrosse ball (or similar) positioned inside of the pelvis on one side—somewhere between top of your hip joint and belly button.  Next, position the base of a kettlebell over the ball, pushing the ball into your psoas.  Hold pressure while bending and straighten your knee.

For Two Joints:

Exercise: Perform the same hip flexor stretch as indicated for the single joint hip flexor. In addition, bend the affected knee and place it on any elevated surface (a chair or couch roughly 10-12 inches off the ground). You should feel a stretch through the quad.

Lay over a foam roller, lacrosse ball, or Supernova, so that the middle of your quadriceps is in contact with the ball. Keep most of your bodyweight on the ball Maintaining pressure, bend and straighten your knee, bringing your foot towards you butt.  Repeat 3-4 reps before moving the ball.

CONCLUSION

Be mindful of how much time you spend sitting at work, in your car and at home. Take regular breaks to stand and walk around. Combined with the exercises above, you can keep your hips healthy and happy.

OVERCOMING HIP FLEXOR TIGHTNESS

In a culture that prizes long hours behind a desk, often bookended by a lengthy daily commute, it’s little wonder our bodies rebel by holding our muscles and joints in unnatural positions.

One of the most common outcomes we experience as a result of this “sitting” culture is chronically contracted, shortened hip flexors—primarily the psoas and/or iliacus muscle. Without proper attention, tight hip flexors can limit full hip extension range of motion (ROM) and make it difficult to walk, run, climb stairs or perform any activities that require full hip extension without pain or compensation.

So how do you determine the source of your hip pain or inhibited movement? The Thomas Test is a simple, easy to perform exam that can help you determine the source of your problem and choose the correct exercise sequence to address it.

Test Position: Lie on your back on a treatment table, stabilizing the pelvis. Hug one of your knees, pulling it into your chest. The opposite leg will hang straight and partially off the table. This is the tested leg.

How the tested leg responds to this position can tell you where your limitations lie.

One joint tightness

If the source of your problem is tightness in the psoas and/or iliacus muscle (anterior chain), the tested leg will be unable to touch the table.

Two joint tightness:

If the knee on the affected leg is extended over 90-degrees but the hip lies flat against the table, it is likely that the rectus femoris (quadriceps) has become shortened and overly contracted.

For One Joint Hip Flexor:

Exercise: Place the knee of the affected hip on the floor directly under the hip. The opposite knee is bent with the foot firmly planted on the floor. Tuck your pelvis under, draw the lower ribs down towards the front of the pelvis to engage abdominals. Squeeze your glutes.

You should feel a stretch at the front of the thigh as the hip flexor lengthens. Stay in this position for 5-10 breaths.

Lie on your back with both knees bent.  Place a lacrosse ball (or similar) positioned inside of the pelvis on one side—somewhere between top of your hip joint and belly button.  Next, position the base of a kettlebell over the ball, pushing the ball into your psoas.  Hold pressure while bending and straighten your knee.

For Two Joints:

Exercise: Perform the same hip flexor stretch as indicated for the single joint hip flexor. In addition, bend the affected knee and place it on any elevated surface (a chair or couch roughly 10-12 inches off the ground). You should feel a stretch through the quad.

Lay over a foam roller, lacrosse ball, or Supernova, so that the middle of your quadriceps is in contact with the ball. Keep most of your bodyweight on the ball Maintaining pressure, bend and straighten your knee, bringing your foot towards you butt.  Repeat 3-4 reps before moving the ball.

CONCLUSION

Be mindful of how much time you spend sitting at work, in your car and at home. Take regular breaks to stand and walk around. Combined with the exercises above, you can keep your hips healthy and happy.

2017-09-08T15:31:54+00:00

About the Author:

mm
Mike is a Physical Therapist and Strength and Conditioning Coach at Pure Performance Training. He earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Springfield College where he also pitched for the varsity baseball team.