If you’ve ever suffered from hip flexor pain you know, it can be a real pain in the @$$… But the good news is, it’s both preventable and treatable.
I get a lot of people coming to me complaining about the following problems:
- Chronically tight hip flexors
- “Snappy” hips
- Anterior hip pain during running or activities that involve repeated hip flexion
- Lateral knee pain
All of the above issues have one common theme: they’re all caused by an imbalance present between the hip flexor group, the gluteal group, and the anterior core. If you have one or more of these symptoms, (or have suffered from them in the past) then this is the blog post for you!
You’ll be happy to know that the muscular imbalances around the hip are treatable, and can be addressed with the proper exercise program. This intervention will not only help with all of the above symptoms, but it will also make your overall movement more efficient and have positive impact on your performance. Sounds pretty good, right?
First let’s have a look at what make’s up your hip flexor and gluteal muscles groups.
There are 3 main components that make up your hip flexor group:
- illiopsoas (the illiacus and psoas muscles)
- The satorious
- The rectus femoris
There are 4 muscles that make up your gluteal group:
- The tensor fasciae latae
- The gluteus maximus
- The gluteus mediuis
- The gluteus minimus
Aside from performing the hip flexion action, the hip flexor group plays an important role in spinal stabilization – specifically the iilipsoas group. However when the transverse abdominis, (aka your deeper core muscles) stops working properly—which can occur after a lower back injury—the psoas step up to cover the difference. This is problematic because that then causes our body to rely on our psoas muscles for hip flexion, while they’re already working overtime acting as our primary core stabilizers. But the imbalance doesn’t stop there.
Since our medial hip flexors are working overtime we also start to rely on our gluteal group and external rotators to assist our hip flexors. This is what causes excessive tightness in your outer anterior hip and deep posterior-lateral region, in addition to a shortening of your IT band – which can then lead to lateral knee pain.
If you have ever wondered why stretching your hip flexors doesn’t seem to have a lasting effect, this is why. There’s a lot more going on then just muscular tightness.
But as I mentioned above, there’s hope for you and your hip flexors 😉
The program below has helped a countless number of clients (in addition to myself) so I am confident that it will help you too!
Correct Your Hip Flexor Pain with this Action Plan
The first two modalities help to decrease tension in the areas that have been overworked. What this will do is help prevent these areas from engaging when trying to focus on contracting the weakened areas that you need to regain strength and function to.
1. Address the soft tissue
Trigger point the glutes – 30-90 seconds per side
Trigger point the TFL – 30-90 seconds per side
Foam roll the gluteal group, the IT band, and quad/hip flexor region – 30-90 seconds per side
Note: If your hip flexor problems have been going on for a long time, then I strongly suggest you see an RMT, chiropractor, or physio for a massage, active release, and/or intermuscular stimulation (IMS) to facilitate correcting the issue.
2. Promote length to the areas of restriction
½ kneel hip flexor for the illiopsoas group – complete 5-10 per side
Wall hip flexor mob for the rectus femoris – Complete 8-10 per side
Pretzel stretch for your gluteal and external rotators – Hold for 20-30 seconds per side
3. Activate your deeper core muscles
This is the most important part. Our core muscles are—or should be—the foundation of all movement. So it’s important that you master intersegmental stabilzation.
If you’re not sure how, read my post on HOW TO ENGAGE YOUR CORE MUSCLES EFFECTIVELY.
4. Activate your glutes
Now that you’ve decreased tension in the front of your hip and activated your core, the next step is training your glutes to fire in a full hip extension. The easiest way to do this is by executing supine glute bridges.
Supine glute bridges – Complete 2 sets of 5 reps, holding each rep for 5 seconds
5. Make sure that you’re completing exercise that engage your core properly
The next step in preventing and treating hip flexor pain is to ensure that you are completing exercises that properly engage your core regularly. The best types of exercises are those that challenge your ability to maintain proper posture against the following forces: flexion, extension, and rotation.
For a list of recommended exercises, check out my post on the 5 EXERCISES THAT ARE GUARANTEED TO STRENGTH YOUR CORE.
6. Reinforce the ideal pathway of hip flexion
Now that you’ve corrected the imbalance you need to ensure that your hip flexion movement is strong and efficient. Doing so will reduce reduce future compensation in activities like walking, jogging, cycling, and even during sitting; so it’s important that you complete this step.
One of the best exercises to perform to achieve this is THE SUPINE KNEE TO ELBOW TOUCH – which you can read all about HERE.