Hip Flexor Tightness

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*Updated 4/16/18
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The Hip Flexors

Hip flexor tightness is a topic that's been on my mind a lot lately. The more and more hip flexor "tightness" I encounter, the more and more I see the hip flexor is (or perhaps more accurately, FEELS) tight because it's over-worked or can't relax vs the muscle being "short" or "scarred down" or "stuck".

Everyone muscle in your body holds some sort of tone, or level of contraction. Think of it like a volume nob on a stereo. When the volume gets turned up, the muscle contracts harder. Turn the volume down and the muscle can relax. A ton of "tight hip flexors" are because the volume is turned up too high and you don't know how to turn it down.

Why Would the Volume Be Up So High?

One of the missions of your brain is to make sure you can move around and don't collapse to the floor. To do that, you have to have some muscular activity to hold you up. If you are controlling your spine and pelvis using the hip flexor muscles too much instead of some other muscles that attach to your pelvis (abdominals in this case), the volume will be chronically too high in your hip flexors..and guess what that feels like in people?

You guessed it, tightness! See why stretching hasn't been helping you? Because it isn't a stretching deficiency. You have to teach your brain how to turn the volume down.

Movement Evidence

I want to introduce you to a term I call "Movement Evidence". I hate guessing when I do things. I like to have evidence supporting why I'm doing what I'm doing. Using some sort of functional test can give me movement evidence on whether or not a particular drill will be helpful for someone.

For this hip flexor deal we are talking about, take a band and attach it to a pull up rack near you. Put tension on the band and place it under your low back (just below your rib cage). Take both arms and legs up toward the ceiling. Slowly lower one straight leg toward the ground at a time trying to keep the band pinned to the floor. [note: check the video for details on this]

If the band slips out from your back, it shows us that your anterior chain muscles (like your abs) can't control your spine as well as it could. Because the spine isn't controlled well by those other muscles, you will have a tough time turning the hip flexor volume down. Anterior chain strengthening is a new important thing for you. Your hip flexors don't know how to lengthen while the spine is being kept still.

Will This Help Me if I don't Have Tightness?

Yes. If you think about jerking a barbell overhead, you need to have a good ability of your hip flexors to lengthen for the back leg. If you work on the drill in the video, it will help your jerk undoubtedly.

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