Hip flexor tightness affects many athletes at all levels. One of the biggest mistakes they make in trying to fix it, is only thinking about releasing the tension.
Unwinding the tightness in your body is only part of the story. We need to move our joints in lots of different ways to maintain that freedom of movement and strengthen our muscles to support our joints throughout that entire range of motion, especially when they’re under load.
I call this process the 3M Flow™.
Most people miss out those last two stages. When they think about mobility, they simply think about releasing tension, and that’s why most people don’t succeed.
To make sure you don’t fall into that trap, here’s my 3 step guide to hip flexor tightness success:
Step #1 – First the worst
Unfortunately, bodies don’t function using individual muscles. If they did, it’d be really simple to unwind tightness. The hip flexor region is made up of many different muscles, the major regions of which are: adductors (inner thigh), lower abs (belly button to pubic bone), hip flexors (crease of the hip), quads (front of the thigh), lateral leg (outside thigh) and glutes (buttocks).
If our bodies just functioned using individual muscles, it’d simply be a case of working through the list to release them all and hey presto, you wouldn’t have any more issues.
But bodies don’t function like that.
All the other regions can be restricted in function by the tightness of just one other, which means that if you spend your time working on the area that’s not the cause of the restriction, you wouldn’t see the results you want.
It’s almost like there’s a hierarchy.
Let’s say you have tight adductors. The knock-on effect of this tightness is a shortening of the inguinal ligament, which pins the lower abs and hip flexors as they travel through the pelvic cavity – and given the shared attachment of one adductor with one quad muscle and one hamstring muscle, both these also get pulled tight.
The combination of the tight adductor/quad/hamstring combo with the shortened ligament rotates both the leg bone and the pelvis towards the middle, which pulls the muscles on the outside of the thigh, and the glutes into a lengthened state, rendering them unable to function properly.
If your unwinding efforts in this case were on your glutes first, it’s not very likely that you’d make much progress, regardless of the methods you use.
The trick to this step is to work on the areas of the body that are most likely to be causing problems elsewhere first (hint: think adductors and hip flexors before glutes and hamstrings).
If you’re not sure what’s likely to be causing the most problems for you, try my FREE Injury Predictor Assessment here
Step #2 – Stop the rot
Once you’ve started to make some progress with your hip flexor release, you’ll come to know the areas of YOUR body that were causing the most problems. Once you know this, it’s a good idea to look at your daily activities to see what specific activities are contributing to the tightness.
For example, tight hip flexors are usually created by too much sitting, driving, cycling, computer work and more. All these activities are labelled as different things, but to your hip flexors, they’re actually just sitting, which encourages tightness.
Little things like standing at your desk, using public transport, parking further away from work and walking are great ways of reducing the amount of sitting we do.
Step #3 – Spice things up!
They say variety is the spice of life, and nothing is more true when it comes to your body. Moving in LOTS of different ways is what is was designed for, and not only does it improve your mood, but also helps to keep joints open and moving better.
Simple little tweaks like walking a few metres alternating turning your toes in and out will do wonders for your hips. Do this as often as you remember during your day, especially after you’ve been sitting a long time and your hip flexors will love you for it.
I hope you found my 3 step guide useful. If you did, can you think of someone you know who might benefit from reading about it too? Do you think they’d mind if you shared this blog post with them?