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A Core Component
Your hip flexors are part of your core. They play a key role in allowing you to squat and deadlift because they’re needed for full hip extension. When they’re strong and mobile, you’ll be able to run, jump, and squat low.
But most people have no clue why they get pinching pain when they do certain exercises or movements, so they whip out their trigger guns and rollers or start doing a load of stretches.
Believe it or not, tight muscles can also be weak muscles, so stretching and smashing your body parts isn’t always the best medicine. And weak hip flexors can cause pain in other areas like your low back and hips.
What Are Hip Flexors Anyway?
They run from your lumbar spine to your femur and help keep your pelvis aligned. They’re made up of three muscles, two of which join together to form the iliopsoas. The other is the rectus femoris, which is also one of your quadricep muscles.
Together they act to flex or bend your hip. Bringing your knees to your chest is the primary purpose. Since the hip flexor complex attaches at the spine, pelvis, and femur, any disruption there creates imbalance all over the body.
One final thing: Your hip flexors are in a shortened position when sitting down and lengthened when standing or extending your hip.
If your hip flexors aren’t strong enough, you can expect injuries, hip pain, knee pain, low back pain, and even hamstring issues. There’s a direct correlation between weaker hip flexors and injuries, so working on keeping them strong may be one of the most important parts of your training.
Excessive sitting can shorten all the muscles in the front of the body, which include the hips. If you’re struggling to stay healthy and want to build a well-rounded core, start with not only working the rectus and transverse abdominis, but also hitting obliques and hips.
Here’s What To Do
First, test yourself. You need to see if your hips are indeed the culprit. This is a good one from Coach Lee Boyce:
Place a lacrosse ball or two between the top of your thigh and bottom of your hip bone. You’ll have to work to keep the ball in place while you do a bridge. If the ball pops out, there’s your sign!
Now correct the issue by adding drills like these:
1. Deadbug Pullover with Psoas March
The pullover is often butchered because of overextension of the spine or low back. The deadbug fixes this, promotes lumbopelvic stability, and helps give you better posture. Adding the band around the feet helps work the hips while adding resistance in extension.
2. Prone Psoas March
The slight elevation not only works the hips but also gives your entire midsection an anti-extension blast. As a bonus, your shoulders have to do some work to stabilize your bodyweight.
3. Straight-Leg Pike
This is a superior way to target the hip flexors directly. Keep your quads engaged and legs as straight as possible so you’re in more of a V-sit position.
4. Hollow Hold Flutter Kick
Challenge your anterior core and your hip flexors with this variation of the hollow hold. Focus on keeping your legs as straight as possible and hold the weight 4-6 inches off your chest. Not only will your hip flexors be on fire, but it’ll give your shoulders some isometric work as well.
5. Standing Psoas March
Using some assistance can help you focus more on the isometric hold and hip work rather than trying to balance. You can even incorporate slow eccentrics.
6. High-Knee Sprint and Resisted Reverse Bear Push-Up
For an unconventional power or conditioning tool, you can use something like the NT Loop and work on these.