2) The athlete or client will use the TFL and the other ischial hip flexors to flex the hip. In this case the athlete or client will begin to complain of a low-level strain in the TFL. This is a result of overuse of a synergist and will feed into a synergistic dominance of the TFL and further psoas and iliacus dysfunction. This is what we have classically seen in our hockey athletes who utilize a flexed posture.
The pectineus is an accessory hip flexor. This short muscle originates from the front of the pelvis, crosses the hip joint and inserts near the top of the thighbone. In addition to hip flexion, the pectineus works with other muscles to move your thigh inward. The pectineus may be involved in groin strains, which occur commonly among players of sports that require rapid acceleration and position changes.
You’ve heard the saying: it’s all in the hips, but for many of us, our hips – or more precisely, our hip flexors – are tight, stiff and inflexible. If you’re an office worker you can probably thank sitting down at your desk 8 or more hours a day for your tight hip flexors. Habitual sitting causes your hip flexors to tighten and shorten – adjustable standing desks, anyone?
My exercise of choice here is floor-slide mountain climbers. You will need some furniture moving pads, Valslides, or something similar that will slide smoothly on your floor. Paper plates even work well in a pinch. Put your feet on the sliders and move into a push-up position. To perform the movement, simply pull one knee at a time up toward your chest, going as high as you can while keeping your foot on the slider. You can alternate legs with each rep or do sets of one leg at a time. Don't expect it to be easy.
Have the client or athlete stand with one foot on a plyo box (24″ works well for most) that places the knee above the hip. With the hands overhead or behind the head, attempt to lift the foot off the box and hold for five seconds. Inability to lift and hold is indicative of a weak psoas and or iliacus. To add resistance and use this test as an exercise, lateral resistors or bands can be used to increase the difficulty of the isometric. It is important to note that any test of the psoas originating from below the hip is inherently invalid, as the iliac-originated hip flexors are now at a leverage advantage.
If you’re lucky, you won’t notice your hips are tight until you’re trying to do the Half Pigeon pose in your yoga class. But if you’re not so fortunate, your tight hips are making themselves known every time you so much as walk to the bathroom or sit on the couch—expressing themselves in the form of lower back pain and muscle stiffness. Tight hips can even shorten your stride, slowing your 5K goal time!
The better you understand anatomy and biomechanics the more effectively you can program exercise for clients who need correction and/or to restore balance between the right and left sides of the body. There are 11 muscles that flex the hip joint. Each of these muscles also has other abilities for movement. For example, tensor fasciae latae also internally rotates the hip and abducts it. Whereas sartorius abducts but externally rotates the hip. The muscles in the human body all overlap each other in their abilities, making it the machine of many movements that it is.
The rectus femoris is one of the four quadriceps muscles -- the quadriceps are the major muscle group of the front of the upper leg. The rectus femoris attaches to the anterior inferior -- the part toward the feet -- portion of the iliac crest and runs to the base of the patella, also known as the knee. The femoral nerve supplies the rectus femoris with nerves. This is the only muscle that crosses the hip joint, which enables it to work as a hip flexor and a knee extender muscle.
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.
The hip rotators not only rotate the thigh on the pelvis but more functionally rotate the pelvis on the weight bearing fixed thigh. Activities such as swing a golf club, and even just walking require some rotation of the pelvis on the weight bearing leg. While we don't need that much range of motion to walk, activities such as running, dancing, tennis, and many other sports can require more hip rotation.
Well, most of us work the hip flexors (including the psoas and iliacus) most of the time- sitting, practicing while seated, cycling, driving...but only in a limited range, i.e. knees and hips bent to 90 degrees. We need to balance out the movements of the hips a bit more- add more extension and more varieties of flexion. For example, sitting cross legged, sitting on the floor, squatting, kneeling, etc. all require more varieties of hip movement. To get more hip extension in your life, you can add some restorative exercises like standing apanasana, lunges (lots of lunges!) and go walk (not on a treadmill). That way, you don't lose your capacity to move those joints to their full capacity, and you will have loaded the tissues in more diverse ways.
Unfortunately hip mobility issues like these are some of the most common problems I see in the weightlifting population. However, the issues manifest differently in different people. In some, it's a basic inability to descend below parallel—or anywhere near it—in squat variations. In others, it can contribute directly to debilitating lower back pain, even in people who spend hours every week strengthening their backs.
To test the flexibility of the hip flexors, specifically the iliopsoas, the Thomas' test10 is used. The patient lies supine and flexes one hip, pulling one knee to the chest. If a hip flexion contracture is present, the contralateral straight leg will rise off of the table. The modified Thomas' test (Figure 12.11) may be preferred. With this variation, the patient sits at the end of the examination table with the knees flexed to 90 degrees. Next, one knee is pulled tight to the chest. The patient is instructed to lie down while maintaining the knee against the chest. If a hip flexion contracture is present, the contralateral leg will rise off of the table. If a rectus femoris contracture is present, the contralateral knee will extend.
The more than 20 muscles that make up your hips are responsible for stabilizing your pelvis, moving your legs from side to side, and shortening to draw your knees toward your chest every time you sit down, run, jump or pedal, explains Kelly Moore, a certified yoga instructor and co-founder of Mindfuel Wellness, which brings health and wellness initiatives to companies throughout Chicago.