Weak glute (or buttocks) muscles also contribute to tight hip flexors. Unfortunately, it’s a self-perpetuating problem, since tight hip flexors can cause weak glutes. Strengthening the glute muscles—which often don’t get as much exercise as other key running muscles such as the hamstrings, quads, and calves—is an effective way to relieve stress on the hip flexors.

Understanding the unique functional contributions of the psoas and iliacus illustrates how a weak or under-active muscle can be a factor in both back pain and in quadriceps strains. With back pain, inability to flex the hip past ninety degrees will often cause many clients or athletes to flex the lumbar spine to give the illusion of flexing the hips. Watch how many of your clients or athletes will immediately flex the lumbar spine when asked to bring the knee to the chest. There is a clear distinction between bringing the knee to the chest and bringing the chest to the knee. Attempting to bring the knee toward the chest and above the level of the hip forces the athlete or client to use, or attempt to use, the psoas and iliacus. If they are unable to do this one, or all, of three things happen:
The top of the sartorius muscle attaches to the anterior superior iliac crest. Anterior is the portion toward the front of the body, superior is the part toward the head, and iliac crest is the top border of the ilium. The muscle crosses the upper leg to attach to the tibia, also known as the shin bone. The femoral nerve supplies the sartorius muscle with nerves. The sartorius muscle aids in knee and hip flexion and rotation of the thigh and tibia.
The hip flexors help balance the posterior pelvic muscles. Three key muscles often become tight and shortened as a result of activities of daily living. These are the iliacus, psoas major, and the rectus femoris. The iliacus and the psoas major are often referred to as the iliopsoas because they share the same insertion at the lesser trochanter of the femur. The psoas minor inserts on the superior ramus of the pubis bone and mainly supports the natural lordotic curvature of the spine, but is only found in about 40% of the population. The psoas major originates on the anterior surface of the lumbar vertebrae and runs over the pubis bone and inserts into the lesser trochanter of the femur. This muscle not only helps to flex the hip, but also has an effect on the lordotic curvature of the lumbar vertebrae. The rectus femoris has a proximal attachment at the acetabulum and inserts into the tibial tuberosity. This long muscle plays a role in both hip flexion and leg extension (Figure 9-4).
Apply the above concept to your hips. When you sit, your hips are in a "flexed" position. Therefore, the muscles that flex your hips are in a shortened state. You probably spend at least a third of your day sitting down. Think about how much time those hip flexor muscles stay shortened. A lot. Over time, they become tighter and tighter until you look like the old man in the picture. So unless you want to look like that, perform the stretches shown below.
Imagine not being able to climb stairs, bend over, or even walk Changes in hip joint muscle-tendon lengths with mode of locomotion. Riley, P.O., Franz, J., Dicharry, J., et al. Center for Applied Biomechanics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Gait & Posture, 2010 Feb; 31 (2): 279-83.. All pretty essential if you ask us! But that’s what our bodies would be like without our hip flexor muscles. Never heard of ‘em? It’s about time we share why they’re so important, how your desk job might be making them weaker (ah!), and the best ways to stretch them out.

You can strain or tear one or more of your hip flexors when you make sudden movements such as changing directions while running or kicking. Sports and athletic activities where this is likely to occur include running, football, soccer, martial arts, dancing, and hockey. In everyday life, you can strain a hip flexor when you slip and fall, for example.
Do you go “ahhhhh” while lifting something off the floor? Do you find it difficult to stand straight after sitting for too long? Then, you should stretch your hip flexors. The hip flexors play a major role in all body movements like sitting, running, walking, exercising, and doing daily chores. These muscles contract to help flex the hip joint. And since they remain contracted for most of the day (sitting), it leads to tightening of the hip flexors, lower body pain, and even injury. So, stretching them is the ONLY way to relax these muscles and relieve the pain. Read on to find out about 10 hip flexor stretches.  But first, let me answer your whats, whys, and hows. Here you go!
Muscle strains may then be a further hindrance to exercise, perpetuating the cycle of inactivity and leading to an even greater decline in mobility. As we get older, our muscle mass naturally decreases and our activity levels decline. Inevitably, muscles grow weaker and joints stiffen up. Stretching can help reverse that aging process. Whether you are young or old, athletic or sedentary, stretching is a great way to improve your fitness and agility.
I recommend finding out what’s really wrong from a professional. But it probably doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discover your core is weak or your butt could use a little muscle tone! :) Here are some exercises you could do in the meantime, or sign up for a Fit Tutor membership to help keep you balanced, strong, and fit! Check out membership options here: Fit Tutor Membership Levels
Working in the pelvic region is not easy for many therapists and clients. There are cautions and borders that need to be addressed and talked through before addressing these muscles. There are emotional and comfort aspects about working in the lower pelvic region. Some clients find this area too personal or private to allow the therapist's hands in this area. Other considerations are the internal organs such as the intestines, uterus, kidneys, and bladder. As the iliacus and psoas travel under the inguinal ligament and insert into the lesser trochanter of the femur, there is also the femoral triangle, which needs to be worked around. Body positioning can be useful to help access these muscles in a less invasive way while protecting the comfort of the client.
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 main work of your hip flexors is to bring your knee toward your chest and to bend at the waist. Symptoms associated with a hip flexor strain can range from mild to severe and can impact your mobility. If you don’t rest and seek treatment, your hip flexor strain symptoms could get worse. But there are many at-home activities and remedies that can help reduce hip flexor strain symptoms.
The hip flexors are the muscles at the front of your hip. They’re responsible for several essential functions. Since they’re so often overlooked, we often forget to stretch them before exercising or engaging in rigorous activities. Tight hip flexors can also be a product of being sedentary. So, if you don’t lead an active lifestyle, or if you spend most of your day sitting at a desk, you’ll be susceptible to hip flexor tightness.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place left ankle right below right knee, creating a “four” shape with left leg. Thread left arm through the opening you created with left leg and clasp hands behind right knee. Lift right foot off floor and pull right knee toward chest, flexing left foot. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side.

You're more likely to get a hip flexor injury if you've had one in the past, you don't warm up properly before engaging in athletic activity, your muscles are already tight or stiff, or your muscles are weak from being overused. If, while exercising, you try to do too much at once in too short an amount of time, you can also put yourself at risk for a hip flexor injury.


Once you know where each muscle attaches you can identify specific weakness by designing exercises that target a smaller group of muscles or positions instead of all of them at once. To know which ones are tight or weak strengthen your knowledge of the anatomy of hip flexion and function of the various muscles. Then, design exercises that target each muscle more independently to explore the strength of each one. This is often called corrective exercise.
The hip flexors often get deemed as tight. You can stretch the hip flexors as a group by doing hip extension. This may not get to the root of the issue though. As we just learned, each hip flexor participates in the motion differently depending on the position of the femur. Carefully add internal or external rotation and abduction or adduction when extending the hip to stretch hip flexion. It’s a good place to start when wanting to create a more effective stretch.
Kneel on your mat with your thighs perpendicular to the floor and tops of your feet facing down. Bring your inner knees together. Slide your feet apart so they are slightly wider than your hips and press the tops of your feet evenly into the mat. Slowly sit down between your feet. Use your hands to turn the top of your thighs inward. Then, lean back onto your forearms and slowly lower torso to floor. Hold for at least 30 seconds.

The tensor fascia lata (TFL), quadriceps, and sartorius muscles comprise what I call the big three hip flexors. These muscles are often overlooked in rehabilitation with more focus placed on a fourth hip flexor, the iliopsoas. In my opinion, though, these three hip flexors cause much more damage due to their size, the fact that they alter pelvic and knee mechanics, and their involvement in just about everything we do with our legs.
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.
Grade II (moderate): A larger tear in your muscle that makes it difficult to move and causes a moderate amount of pain, especially when you move the affected muscle, swelling, and tenderness. You may have 5 percent to 50 percent loss of function and you may be limping. You can't go back to sporting activities until the tear is completely healed. These injuries can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months to heal, depending on how bad they are.

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 rectus femoris is one of the quadriceps muscles. The rectus femoris arises from the front of your hipbone, runs through the middle region of the front thigh and attaches to the top of the kneecap. In addition to hip flexion, the rectus femoris straightens, or extends, your knee. This dual function increases the vulnerability to strain injuries. Stretching exercises to maintain flexibility and balanced training to equalize your quad and hamstring strength reduce the likelihood of rectus femoris strains.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to having weak and tight hip flexors as they are always in the shortened position. Tight hip flexors can lead to a limited range of motion, poor posture, lower back, and hip pain, and even injuries. These muscles need to get a workout when you are standing and doing movements such as raising your leg to climb stairs, run, or ride a bicycle.​
Athletes with marked weakness of the hip abductors will exhibit the classic Trendelenburg gait pattern. Hallmarks of the Trendelenburg gait pattern are depression of the swing phase pelvis (as the stance phase hip abductors cannot resist the pull of gravity on the unsupported side of the body).4,8,13 Athletes often find ways to compensate for a relative weakness, such as with a compensated Trendelenburg gait pattern. With this pattern the athlete exhibits increased deviation of the body in the frontal plane toward the stance leg. This causes a decrease in the moment arm of gravitational forces pulling on the unsupported half of the body and a relative decreased load on the stance phase hip abductors (Table 12-1).8,13
To do this stretch, sit on the floor with your legs about three or four feet apart, depending on how tall you are. Make sure your toes and knees are pointed straight up. Next, take a deep breath, and on the exhale, slowly fold your upper body forward. Rest your hands on your feet, legs, or the floor in front of you and hold this stretch for five deep breaths.
Athletes with marked weakness of the hip abductors will exhibit the classic Trendelenburg gait pattern. Hallmarks of the Trendelenburg gait pattern are depression of the swing phase pelvis (as the stance phase hip abductors cannot resist the pull of gravity on the unsupported side of the body).4,8,13 Athletes often find ways to compensate for a relative weakness, such as with a compensated Trendelenburg gait pattern. With this pattern the athlete exhibits increased deviation of the body in the frontal plane toward the stance leg. This causes a decrease in the moment arm of gravitational forces pulling on the unsupported half of the body and a relative decreased load on the stance phase hip abductors (Table 12-1).8,13
The hip is a very stable ball and socket type joint with an inherently large range of motion. The hip contains some of the largest muscle in the body as well as some of the smallest. Most people lack mobility due to a relatively sedentary lifestyle. Periods of prolonged sitting results in tightness of the hip flexors and hamstrings. Tightness in the muscles and ligaments can created joint forces that result in arthritis, postural problems, bursitis, and mechanical back pain.
Once you know where each muscle attaches you can identify specific weakness by designing exercises that target a smaller group of muscles or positions instead of all of them at once. To know which ones are tight or weak strengthen your knowledge of the anatomy of hip flexion and function of the various muscles. Then, design exercises that target each muscle more independently to explore the strength of each one. This is often called corrective exercise.
The sartorius originates at the ASIS and proceeds to traverse obliquely and laterally down the thigh to eventually insert at the anterior surface of the tibia, just inferomedial to the tibial tuberosity, as part of the pes anserinus. In addition to flexing the hip and knee, the sartorius aids in the abduction of the hip. It is innervated by the femoral nerve (i.e., the posterior division of L2 and L3).
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Cross your right ankle over your left knee. Keeping your lower back pressed into the floor, pull your left knee in towards the chest by threading your hands between your legs and pulling gently on your left thigh. Think about keeping your right knee open to really stretch your hip. You’ll feel a little extra lovin’ in the outside of your hip with this one! Repeat on the other side.

Working in the pelvic region is not easy for many therapists and clients. There are cautions and borders that need to be addressed and talked through before addressing these muscles. There are emotional and comfort aspects about working in the lower pelvic region. Some clients find this area too personal or private to allow the therapist's hands in this area. Other considerations are the internal organs such as the intestines, uterus, kidneys, and bladder. As the iliacus and psoas travel under the inguinal ligament and insert into the lesser trochanter of the femur, there is also the femoral triangle, which needs to be worked around. Body positioning can be useful to help access these muscles in a less invasive way while protecting the comfort of the client.


The ankle joint is held in place by numerous strong ligaments that can be easily damaged when excessive force is placed on the ankle, particularly during strenuous inversion and eversion. Movement at the ankle is key for maintenance of posture and balance, but is most important in locomotion. Variation in muscle activation can control the movement of the ankle joint, allowing the foot to generate graduated force.
To complete this stretch, take a knee in front of a wall so that the toes of the leg you have raised are pressing against the wall. Place that same hand against the wall. Reach behind you with your other hand and grab your leg that’s sitting on the floor by the ankle, and bend it back towards your body. Hold this position and lunge forward towards the wall to complete the stretch. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side of your body.
Our hip flexors serve many vital functions. The goal of the hip flexor is to make it easy to for joints to move through their full range of motion smoothly.  They’re responsible for important aspects of motion, like our ability to bend, run, or kick. Without our hip flexors, controlling the movement of our legs would be virtually impossible. Our hip flexors also work to stabilize the joints of the hips and lower body.
Luckily, you don’t have to quit your day job or forgo spin class to loosen them up. Simply stretching those hips can get your body back in alignment, increase your mobility (and thus your exercise performance) and maybe even ease pesky back pain, Moore says. “Given the amount of time we sit [each] day and the stress we put our bodies under, hip-opening moves are a necessary party of our daily routine.”
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