In the case of a weak or under-active psoas or iliacus, the femur may move above the level of the hip but it is not from the action of the psoas and iliacus but rather from the momentum created by the other three hip flexors. With this knowledge in hand, I believe that our knowledge of back pain, “hip flexor strains,” and ‘quad pulls” is drastically expanded. Before we discuss specific injuries let’s first look at how to assess the function of the psoas and iliacus.

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.
Note: Exercises that strengthen the hip flexors also involve contracting (shortening) these muscles. So if tight hip flexors are a problem for you, it might be wise to limit how many direct hip-strengthening exercises you perform. These exercises are more geared toward people who have been told they have weak hip flexors that need strengthening or are looking for targeted exercises to build more power and stamina in the hip flexors.
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.
Note: Exercises that strengthen the hip flexors also involve contracting (shortening) these muscles. So if tight hip flexors are a problem for you, it might be wise to limit how many direct hip-strengthening exercises you perform. These exercises are more geared toward people who have been told they have weak hip flexors that need strengthening or are looking for targeted exercises to build more power and stamina in the hip flexors.

How to: Sit down with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor in front of you (a). Place your right ankle on top of your left thigh and flex your right foot (b). Put your hands behind your body, fingertips facing away from your body and begin to press your hips toward your heels until you feel a stretch through your outer left hip. Keep your back tall and chest open (c). Hold for six to eight breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Beverly Hosford, MA teaches anatomy and body awareness using a unique method that involves a skeleton named Andy, balloons, play-doh, ribbons, guided visualizations, and corrective exercises. She is an instructor, author, the NFPT blog editor, and a business coach for fitness professionals. Learn more about how to align your business with her coaching guide, Fitness Career Freedom and your body with her Fundamentals of Anatomy Course.
Come into a lunge position with your right knee forward, and lower your left knee to the ground, releasing so the top of your left foot is flat on the floor. Place your hands on the ground under your shoulders, keeping them both to the inside of your right leg. Keep your arms straight and press your chest forward to increase the stretch. Sink into your hips, but try to keep the weight balanced between them. Be aware that your front knee doesn’t go over your toes. Repeat on the opposite leg.
I like to think of myself as a powerful, modern Highland warrior, or maybe a Viking. Had I been born 1,100 years ago I would have leapt first off the longboat to battle hundreds of enemies with a giant axe, or so the fantasy goes. But, it didn't take strength coach Matt Wattles long to put a pin in that balloon. All he had to do was ask me to raise my toes all the way up to his hands, and in an instant, I felt like a senior citizen with a hip replacement. That movement was hard.
Tight hips can stem from multiple things, so I recommend you see a physical therapist, physiotherapist, or personal trainer to help identify the actual issue. Like I mentioned before, your hip flexors may be tight because they are shortened and weakened from desk jockeying all day, or maybe your workout is leading to a muscular imbalance. Perhaps your back is weak and some muscles are pulling double duty, creating extra tension. There’s also a good chance your core is weak and your glutes are underdeveloped.
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.
Fun fact: I was hoping I could rename this because I have a phobia of butterflies. But.. I want you to be able to easily recognize this gym class favorite, so here we are. When it comes to hip flexor stretches, this is hands-down the most embarrassing for me- your knees should be much lower to the ground than mine, but that takes time. Work in progress, friends.
I’ve got zero flex in the hips and the tightest groin muscles anyone could ever have. In saying that I’m one of the most physically active person you’ll ever meet. Because of my tightness I’ve suffered a double hernia, severe sciatic nerve pain that stretches from my lower lumber through my glues down to my ankles. Thanks to your efforts in all of the above videos and through much of the “no pain no gain” stretches, I’m on the mend by Gods grace. We can all make excuses for the physical break down in our bodies but truly doing something about it without relying on medicating pain killers is the go. I believe IMO it all starts with stretching. All you guys in the above videos are legends.
Come into a lunge position with your right knee forward, and lower your left knee to the ground, releasing so the top of your left foot is flat on the floor. Place your hands on the ground under your shoulders, keeping them both to the inside of your right leg. Keep your arms straight and press your chest forward to increase the stretch. Sink into your hips, but try to keep the weight balanced between them. Be aware that your front knee doesn’t go over your toes. Repeat on the opposite leg.
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.

3. Hug it out. Start the supine hip flexor stretch the same as the glute bridge, but keep the right leg relaxed on the floor. Pull shoulder blades down and back to lift hips. Grab the back thigh of the left leg and pull the knee toward the chest. Keep the right leg straight and push its heel into the floor (to feel it in the butt). Hold for 30-45 seconds and switch legs.
Unilateral exercises like step-ups and single-leg toe touches are particularly effective at strengthening the glutes, while walking lunges, lateral lunges, air squats, and jump squats will zero in on all the muscles surrounding the hips. Whether you’re at the gym or heading out for (or back from!) a run, these five moves will strengthen and open your hips, keep them loose long-term, and not only make you a better runner, but make running feel better to you.
When these muscles are under constant tension because of ergonomics and habitual postural positioning, they may become tight and shortened. This can result in pulling forward on the lumbar vertebrae, creating hyperlordosis and causing the pelvis to tilt anteriorly. This is commonly seen in people who maintain a seated position for a prolonged period such as office workers, computer programmers, and others who find themselves sitting at a desk for hours every day. It is important to provide education on proper ergonomics, movement, and self-care to these individuals.
I like to think of myself as a powerful, modern Highland warrior, or maybe a Viking. Had I been born 1,100 years ago I would have leapt first off the longboat to battle hundreds of enemies with a giant axe, or so the fantasy goes. But, it didn't take strength coach Matt Wattles long to put a pin in that balloon. All he had to do was ask me to raise my toes all the way up to his hands, and in an instant, I felt like a senior citizen with a hip replacement. That movement was hard.
Hey Sunny! I’m so sorry you’ve been experience hip pain since your C-section! I hope these help! :) I actually have an exercise program to help women recover properly from C-sections (mainly rebuilding their core and pelvic floor) if that sounds like something you might be interested in, let me know! I’m wondering if we could get your strength balanced some of that hip pain would go away? Thanks so much for your comment!
I’m a runner and started experiencing some familiar tightness in my hip and started getting worse everyday I ran. It’s always gotten sore after running for a long extent for the last 4 years or so. I’m glad I found this page because all of these stretches helped me realize what needed to be stretched and how tight I really was! I hope this will fix my overwhelming soreness. Thank you!

Widen your knees ever so slowly until you feel a stretch in your inner thighs. Make sure your ankles are in line with your knees, your hips stacked over your knees, and your feet and calves should be grounded and toes pointed out. Relax your shoulders, and if you’re able to, lower down to your forearms. If you have a yoga block, resting your chest on it will help you release your hips.
Pull your shoulder blades down and back and reach down with both hands to grab the back of your left thigh to pull your knee toward your chest. Keep the right leg straight and push the back of the right heel into the ground; feeling your right glute muscle contract. Keep your abs and core tight and as your hip relaxes, pull it in closer if possible. Repeat on the opposite leg.
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.
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.

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.


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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