Updated: May 24
One of the biggest complaints we get in physical therapy these days is tightness in the front of the hips. This tightness can be caused by a variety of reasons including too much time sitting, weak and underdeveloped abs, and poor sitting and standing posture.
One common misconception that I want to clear up here is that a tight muscle doesn't need to be strengthened. In fact, a lot of people think that too much strengthening causes tightness. This can be the case, but only when muscles aren't stretched and taken through a full range during movement.
Most times when we find that people have tight hip flexor muscles, they are also weak. This leads to dysfunction that cause cause hip pain and clicking, low back pain, and difficulty normal daily tasks.
Our goal with hip flexor tightness is to improve muscle length and functionality. The ultimate example of strength with mobility is in gymnasts. A gymnast must have incredible strength along with flexibility in order to get into the positions required for their sport.
So here are the 5 things I would recommend to reduce your hip flexor tightness.
Try to sit less at work. Getting a sit to stand desk can make a major impact on your symptoms. Try and slowly work up the amount of standing over time. Don't go to a full day of standing right away.
Do strengthening exercises for your hip flexors. You can use band resistance, leg weights, or cables. The goal is to tighten the abs and bring the knee up to the chest.
Stretch your hip flexor, but don't forget the quads. The rectus femoris is a quad muscle that crosses the knee and hip. This means that if this muscle is too tight, it can also lead to hip flexor tightness
Strengthen your glutes. The glute max is the muscle that opposes the hip flexors by performing hip extension. Hip thrust movements are going to be the key to glute strengthening. Make sure to try and fully squeeze that glute to maximize hip extension and avoid extending the low back too much.
Use a soft tissue release device such as the pso-rite or the hip hook. Our physical therapists perform manual therapy including myofascial release for this muscle to help improve the muscle length.