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Tight Hip Flexors

Article written by Jay Stadtfeld for

If you’ve ever found yourself complaining of lower back pain, then it’s likely that you suffer from a common problem: tight hip flexors. This issue is pretty prevalent in today’s society, in which for most of our day we find ourselves sitting down. Something we’re not really made to do for extended amounts of time. Sadly, this is somewhat unavoidable, given we need to earn a paycheck.

The hip flexors, or less commonly the Iliacus and Psoas (1 and 2 respectively in the picture), aid in flexion of the hips, and rotation of the spine in the thoracic and lumbar regions (ExRx).

When these muscles get tight, all kinds of funky stuff can send a good lift awry. Lumbar rounding, inability to “shoot the hips”, amongst assorted other fun actions, including the increased risk of injury. 
Due to the nature of both our jobs and hobby, we’ll find ourselves in a compromising position quite frequently throughout the day, making it imperative that we mobilize the body and make sure it’s up to snuff and prepared for any activity. Many exercises will often take care of this, and I prefer dynamic work as opposed to a static approach, especially when dealing with such a… uh… tender region. I recommend dynamic stretches over static because you’re taking your body through its designed range of motion which warms up the region for exercise, whereas with static you’re simply holding the stretch for a pre-determined duration of time. 

A few recommended stretches for the hip are:
·         Explosive Lunges (make sure you extend your rear leg far and explode with as much force as possible on the way up).
·         Side lunges in which you’ll extend one of your legs into position probably 2 feet outside of normal squat width, lunge, and sink into it. The opposing leg is where you should feel the stretch in your hip flexor.
·         This one is my personal favorite, and I often do it 5, maybe even 6 times in a week. KStar’s “pre-squat hip opener”. Take this one slow to start with, as overstretching is an easy thing to do, and not at all fun to recover from (I would know). This is extremely useful before squatting, as hitting depth and keeping structures in position will be much easier.
·         If you’re looking for a passive, static stretch, I would suggest the kneeling lunge stretch. For this, just sink into a lunge and increase the distance between your knees while keeping your chest upright.
There are ample stretches you can do to increase flexibility in this region. The above is merely a taste of what you can do. Use the above and your body will thank you, and may your lifts improve eleventeen fold.

4 thoughts on “Tight Hip Flexors

  1. I’m suffering through this right now and have back pain right above the tailbone, mainly in the bottom of the squat or when I start to pull from the floor. If I’m able to support myself (like in a one-arm dumbbell snatch) I don’t have any pain at all. It’s been frustrating to say the least. I’m going to try the dynamic stretches you’ve listed above. Do you recommend these only prior to exercise or are these the best option for stretching the hip flexors throughout the day as well?

  2. Excellent info !! Ktars strech is fkn brutal for someone that is really tight… I don’t know what I would do without you guys and all of the great information you put out !!

  3. The MobWod hip opener for squats completely changed my training. I hit that, then couch stretch for 2 mins a side, followed by work on the hams using a resistance band, and finally I’ll do glutes with a lax ball and calves with a barbell. Complete game changer as far as squats/any posterior chain work goes.

  4. Thanks for another timely bit of info! I also would be remiss not to mention the fantastic butt shots above. Especially the individual in the blue shorts. Priceless.

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