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Tight Hip Flexors: How to Treat Them at Home

Tight hip flexors are a topic of conversation in many athletic circles, but they’re more than just a buzzword to toss around at the gym. Tight hips can cause real discomfort and severely limit mobility.

Woman in jeans holds her hip and lower back in pain.

Thankfully, tight hips are a common condition that you can treat at home or, for the best results, with the help of an orthopedic specialist. In this blog, we’ll take a look at what tight hip flexors actually are, how to diagnose them, and how best to treat the problem.

What Causes Tight Hip Flexors

The hip flexor consists of several groups of muscles, including the Iliopsoas, rectus femoris, sartorius, and pectineus. These muscles work together to provide flexion and connect the femur to the back, groin, and hips. Needless to say, they are essential to everyday movement and activity.

Any time you bring your knees towards your torso, your hip flexors are responsible for that movement. Frequent repetition of that motion can, over time, result in hip flexor strain. Common activities that result in strained or tight hips include: 

  • Having a weak core
  • Sitting for extended periods
  • Poor posture
  • Excessive lower body exercises 
  • Sports that frequently require athletes to bring knees towards the chest

Diagnosing Tight Hip Flexors

The most obvious symptom of tight hip flexors is that the muscles feel tight. To determine whether or not you have tight hips, you can try this: while lying on your back, pull one knee to your chest. If you’re able to keep your other leg straight and flat on the floor, you probably have flexible hip flexors. If not, you could be suffering from tight hip flexors.

A female sprinter does the pigeon pose on the track.

Have you ever asked yourself ‘why does my hip pop?’ Another common symptom of tight hip flexors is a popping or clicking in your hip. However, the popping or clicking should not be painful. If you have the following symptoms, your hip flexor may be more seriously injured, and you should seek medical attention. 

  • Sudden or sharp hip pain
  • Swelling or bruising of the hip area
  • Reduced hip strength
  • Hip pain while walking

Additionally, tight hips can cause discomfort in other areas of the body. Patients who have tight hips often ask, “can tight hips cause knee pain or foot pain?” They most certainly can, which only makes choosing the best healthcare provider more critical so that you don’t get misdiagnosed. 

Treating Tight Hip Flexors

Thankfully, you can relieve tight hips at home with four simple stretches. 

Stretch One: Foam Roll

A foam roller can be an inexpensive and effective way to stretch muscles and relieve pain. For hip flexors, get into a plank position with the roller under one hip. With the other leg out to the side, roll the roller up and down the hip, focusing on areas that are tighter than others. Over-rolling your hip is not a concern, but try several sets of 30 seconds on each hip.

 A woman does a low lunge stretch on the beach.

Stretch Two: Pigeon Pose

Also a popular yoga position, the pigeon pose is a great way to stretch out your tight hips. While on your hands and knees, pull your one knee forward. Bending that knee under your chest, stretch out your other leg behind you. 

While you probably will not be able to put the opposite leg fully behind you at first, starting with a lesser range of motion will still result in a stretch. As your hip flexors loosen up, your range of motion will gradually increase. 

Stretch Three: Butterfly Stretch

The butterfly stretch is a very common and straightforward stretch that can help relieve tension in your hip flexors. Simply sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together. With your feet together, let your knees drop to the sides and lean forward. You can also push your knees out to the sides with your hands for a more advanced stretch. 

Stretch Four: Low Lunge

The low lunge closely resembles a standard lunge but with more emphasis on the hip flexors. To perform the low lunge, start by lunging deeply with one leg. In that position, rest the other leg’s knee on the ground and straighten that leg out behind you. 

Then, put your hands on the floor on both sides of the forward foot. Raise one arm over your head and lean in the opposite direction. 

How to Get the Best Results for Your Hip Flexors

Using the stretches above, you may be able to loosen your hip flexors and get back to normal, pain-free movement. However, for the best results, we always recommend visiting a professional. 

With the help of an orthopedic specialist, you can get a personalized treatment plan that is tailored to fit your needs. For example, some patients require strengthening and stretching exercises for their hip flexors. Those people with weak hip flexors need more than the four stretches mentioned above. 

If you want to guarantee yourself the best results for your hip flexors, reach out to the pros at South Island Orthopedics. Our specialists will work with you to increase your flexibility in a safe and caring environment. Request an appointment today!

Posted in: Hip, Uncategorized