The Joint Ventures' Blog

Importance of Hip Flexor Stretching

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Do you sit for 4 or more hours a day?  If the answer is yes, then this blog is for you!

Prolonged sitting causes your hip flexors to get tight.  Then, when you go to stand, it pulls on your lumbar spine, which leads to a multitude of lower back problems.  In order for you to understand how this happens, you must first learn a little bit about your hip flexors. 

What/Where are your hip flexors?

Two major muscles of the hip flexors are called the iliacus and psoas, collectively called the iliopsoas.  These muscles originate from the front of the lumbar spine and iliac crest of the pelvis.  They run through the abdomen and attach to your thigh bone (femur).  See photo below.

                                              hip flexor, hip flexor stretch, iliacus, psoas

Your iliopsoas is predominantly a postural stabilizing muscle, which keeps your hips and lower back correctly aligned.  Shortening of theses muscles can lead to compensatory movement patterns in the joints and muscles of the pelvis and lower back.  Examples of these dysfunctions include excessive anterior pelvic tilt or increased arching of the low back.   Hip flexor tightness often goes ignored, but it is one of the leading causes of lower back and hip pain due to its direct attachments to both.  Keeping it stretched out can help prevent back and hip pain.

How to stretch your hip flexors?  

                        hip flexor, hip flexor stretch

To perform this stretch, kneel with one knee on the ground (you can use a towel underneath it for a cushion).  As you lean forward, it is very important that you keep your back straight.  In order to intensify the stretch, you should tuck your tailbone underneath you in order to flatten your back.  As you lean forward, you should try to maintain that flattened back.  The stretch is typically felt deep into the front of your hip.  It is recommended that you hold this stretch 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times a day.  

If you have more questions about your hip flexors, physical therapy in Boston or stretching and how they relate to back pain, please contact me at Nicole.Chaput@JointVenturesPT.com

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