At the very least, the tension and/or spasm in muscles that cross over the hip and attach onto the pelvis can contribute to imbalance, in terms of how strong and flexible each muscle group is in relation to the others. But muscle imbalance in the hips and the spine may make for pain, limitation and/or posture problems. It can also increase the healing challenge put to you by an existing injury or condition, for example, scoliosis.
Any/all of these will indicate that the client or athlete is attempting to compensate for the weak or under-active muscles. The TFL cramp is a classic illustration of synergistic dominance. A muscle cramps when attempting to shorten in a disadvantageous position. With the hip flexed above ninety, the TFL is already shortened and unable to produce the necessary force to hold in a position of poor leverage. The attempt results in cramping, much like a hamstring cramp in bridging when the glutes are under-active. The same effects are often seen when attempting hanging knee ups (an exercise we almost never do, as it teaches compensation), except the cramp or strain is in the rectus femoris.
Gait analysis studies in the elderly show that they typically have a shortened step length. Whether that is a result of tight hip flexors or due to reduced balance, the propensity to walk with shorter steps will itself lead to tightness in hip flexors and anterior joint structures. Hip stretches may be a relatively easy preventative strategy for the elderly with gait abnormalities and may help to prevent falls.
The illiacus attaches on the upper portion of the femur and begins on the inside crest of the illium (inside of the pelvis), where the psoas attaches all the way through the transverse processes of the lumbar spine, even binding into the discs directly. The rectus femoris begins at the base of the anterior superior illiac spine, and attaches all the way down to the knee cap, whereas the sartorius starts in the same place as the rectus femoris, but attaches on the medial aspect of the knee, blending with the MCL and portions of the hamstrings.
Other muscles that can be recruited to assist with hip flexion include the tensor fascia latae (TFL), the pectineus, the adductors, the gracilis, and the anterior aspects of the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus. The contribution of these secondary hip flexors largely depends on the position of the hip at the time at which movement is initiated.
This stretch targets the adductors while opening the hips and lengthens the quad muscles, increasing strength and flexibility in the upper legs and hips. Begin by kneeling upright. Straighten your right leg out behind you, keeping your knee on the floor. Place your fingertips on the floor on either side of your knees and push your hips lower toward the floor, so your groin approaches your left foot. Hold this pose for 30 seconds before repeating on the opposite side.
To work these tissues, start by locating your iliac crest. Sounds like a rare bird species, but it's the top bony part of your hip that sticks out by your beltline. If you're using a lacrosse ball, simply move into a plank position on the ground and lay on the ball so that it presses into your hip just below the crest. Move side-to-side slowly, so the ball moves back and forth laterally several inches at a time.
Tight hip flexors occur for a variety of reasons. Those who run frequently or engage in other activities that put strain on the hip flexors are likely to experience hip flexor tightness at one time or another. A blow to the hip or poor conditioning can also be causes of tight hip flexors. These causes can usually be attributed to tiny tears that occur to our hip flexors through rigorous activity.
You can roll on just about anything. I've used several different types of foam rollers, a Rumble Roller, lacrosse balls, PVC pipe, a number of weird stick-shaped things. I've also been getting great results using the Body Wrench, an awesome device that is basically a combination of all of the above. I have found that different materials are suitable for different areas on different bodies, so feel free to experiment and find what works best for you.
For example, your quadriceps muscles are a group of four that are located at the front of the thigh; one of the group members, the rectus femoris flexes the hip, which brings your lower extremity (thigh, lower leg, and foot) forward, in front of you. On the other hand, your hamstring muscles are located at the back of the thigh. When they contract, they extend the lower extremity, bringing it behind you.
The term iliopsoas refers to the iliacus and psoas muscles, which are grouped together because they function collaboratively and share a common tendon. The psoas originates from your lower spine, and the iliacus arises from the inside of your hipbone. The muscles come together as they cross through the pelvis and insert on the inner thighbone below the hip joint. The iliopsoas is the most powerful hip flexor.
Stephanie Chandler is a freelance writer whose master's degree in biomedical science and over 15 years experience in the scientific and pharmaceutical professions provide her with the knowledge to contribute to health topics. Chandler has been writing for corporations and small businesses since 1991. In addition to writing scientific papers and procedures, her articles are published on Overstock.com and other websites.
Honestly, I am new to a lot of this stuff, so I am definitely not an expert on the subject. However, I have been doing some research on the matter, and it seems most people recommend stretching the opposing muscle group in such cases. For example, if you injured your hamstring, you would stretch your thigh. You would also want to stretch the surrounding muscle groups, seeing as how our entire body is fit together, so that every part of your body affects every other part. I realize that by now you are probably back to skating, but for anyone else who reads this and has a similar issue, I would still suggest looking into it a bit, as, like I said, I am new to a lot of stuff (PE was about as far as I got when it came to exercise, until almost two months ago, when I found crossfit), but at least it’s a start.
Dean Somerset, CSCS, a personal trainer and post-rehab specialist in Edmonton, Alberta, is owner of Somerset Fitness Ltd. He has a degree in kinesiology from the University of Alberta and is certified by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s written articles for The PTDC as well as T-Nation and Bodybuilding.com, and contributed to Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness, and many other magazines and websites. You can contact him at his website or Facebook , and check out his unique approach to training on his YouTube channel.
Keeping your abs engaged, make sure your head is over your heart, and your heart over your hips. Your hips should be centered, which means your back shouldn’t be arched nor your butt tucked under. Try to keep the weight displaced evenly between your hips. Sink into the lunge as your hips relax. Draw your back heel towards the wall behind you. You can lift your hands up, palms facing each other if you’re able. Repeat on the other side.