Hip flexors, the muscles that are talked about a lot, but not really understood?
What and Where?
The hip flexors are a group of muscles found at the (you guessed it) hip area of the body. There are 3 main flexors for the hip, the Iliopsoas, the Sartorius and the Rectus Femoris all working together to help you lift your leg up to your front in the sagittal plane.
What are the Ilipsoas?: The Ilipsoas muscle actually consists of two muscles working to help flex the hip (with slight help to spinal rotation too). These are the Iliacus and the Psoas major muscles together known as The Ilipsoas muscle.
Where are the Ilipsoas? The Psoas muscles originate at the lumbar spine (L1-L5) in the lower back and the Iliacus originates at the Iliac fossa (top of the hip bone), both muscles join together at the top of the femur as their insertion point.
What is the Sartorius?: The Sartorius is the longest muscle in the human body, it’s a thin superficial muscle that runs down the front of the thigh towards the knee.
Where is the Sartorius?: The Sartorius starts at the ASIS (Anterior Superior Iliac Spine (side of the hip)) as its origin and works its way over the quad muscles down to the top of the Tibia (shin bone) on inside of the knee as its insertion point.
What is the Rectus Femoris?: The Rectus femoris one of the Quad muscles, (the four big muscles on the front of your thigh) it is the biggest of the four and is also used to extend the lower leg at the knee joint (straighten your leg).
Where is the Rectus Femoris?: The Rectus femoris starts at the AIIS (Anterior Inferior Iliac Spine(side of hip but lower than the ASIS)) as its origin and runs down the thigh to its insertion at the base of the patella (knee cap).
Now the How?
How do Hip Flexors get tight? Hip flexors are very prone to getting tight in a lot of people due to the work they do. Many people sit at desks for up to 10 hours a day with their hip joints continuously flexed then head home for a few hours of television after a long day straight back into the seated position. So from this we can see that sitting for too long is actually the main culprit for tight hip flexors (especially the Ilipsoas). To make this worse I see a lot of people then taking up cycling to “get fit” which is great for your cardio but will also tighten those Hip flexors due to more continuous flexion and still no extension.
Tight hip flexors can also cause a lot of discomfort throughout the body and affect your posture too, from glute pain and low back pain to Anterior Pelvic tilt it is so important to stay flexible in the hips.
How do I stretch the Hip flexors? If you think about where your hip flexors are and how they are getting tight you simply just need to do the opposite. Flexion of the hip is the cause, Extension of the hip is the solution. There are many good Yoga poses that help with tight hip flexors, these poses can be seated, standing, prone and supine.
- Seated: Ardha Kapotasana (Half Pigeon Pose)
- Standing: Anjaneyasana (Low lunge)
- Prone: Danurasana (Bow pose)
- Supine: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)