By Ryan Obernesser STACK.com
The most common complaint we hear from our members is “my hips are so tight.” The response is always, “Here, try this hip flexor stretch.”
Why are everyone’s hips so tight?
Take a step back and think about where you spend most of your day. If you’re a young athlete, you probably spend most of your time at school or maybe work or practice and even a little time at home, if you’re lucky. Now think about what position your body is in during those periods. I would bet that you spend most of your day sitting down. You may walk to class or run in practice, but the majority of your day is spent in a seated position.
So, who cares right? Wrong. Everyone has seen that little old man walking with a cane, hunched over almost to the point of staring at the ground. Do you think he always walked like that? I’d bet you he didn’t. Maybe he had an injury that never healed properly, or maybe after spending years and years in a similar position, his body became tighter and tighter until eventually he ended up bent over.
Repetitive motions over time can change the positioning of your body.
When a muscle contracts, it shortens. Take the biceps for example. Without getting too technical, the biceps are attached at the forearm and shoulder. When your biceps contract, they shorten and bring those two points closer together. When you rest, the muscle returns to its normal length, and the two points move farther away. Constantly contracting your biceps over a long period of time would cause them to get shorter, even at rest.
Why Are My Hips Tight?
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.
Exercises 1. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Drive your hip forward and your knee into the ground. Your iliopsoas muscle, one of the main hip flexors, is a deep muscle that requires isometric activation to stretch it.
2. Pigeon Stretch
Bring the heel of your front leg to the pants pocket on your other leg. This will align your hips and allow you to drive them into the floor, accentuating the stretch.
3. Spider-Man Stretch
Take a wide lunge stance and drive the hip of your down leg across your body when you rotate.
4. Hip Flexor Mobilization
Press the foam roller or lacrosse ball into the crease of your hip. Apply pressure as needed and roll the roller or ball back and forth to break up the tissue. When you find a spot that’s tender, focus on it and apply even more pressure to help release the tightness.