The hip flexors sit at the front of the hips and as the name suggests, flex or bend the hip if lifting the leg off the ground. They also have the ability to pull the pelvis forward and arch the back when standing or sitting. Due to the high repetition of leg elevation required in dance, it is often reported that the hip flexors can feel very tight and affect how the hips feel with movement.
Tight hip flexors can lead to many problems arising throughout the body . Areas that can be directly affected are:
• Low back
Many other areas of the body are affected more indirectly however such as the rib cage, neck, TMJ(jaw), calf and even breathing!
When we refer to the hip flexors we are often talking about psoas major and minor, iliacus and rectus femoris. Sartorius also plays a role in hip flexion as do the front fibres of TFL.
This group of muscles can become prone to tightness as a result of
• Non optimal Posture (especially forward tilt of the pelvis)
• Sitting for too long (triple flexion)
• Weaker muscles at the back of the hip, such as the gluts and deep hip rotators (asymetry)
• Weaker core and trunk control muscles and timing (poor load transfer between trunk to hips)
• Digestion problems (inflammation of the gut causes problems with psoas which lies very close to the bowels)
• Mood. Posture and breathing is affected by mood and can therefore have affect on the hip flexors.
Hip flexor stretches should form part of your daily routine and as with any kind of stretching full attention should be given at the time.
Below are some variations for you to try:
• Keep the pelvis facing forward.
• Tuck the pelvis under to open the front of the hip.
• You can add a small oscillation in a forward direction keeping the pelvis tucked under. The body will travel forward and back in rthymic motion.
This variation adds an arm reach.
• Start as above and then reach the arm either upwards towards the ceiling or over to the side coming into a small side bend.
• This will increase the stretch throughout the body encompassing the side muscles and shoulder.
• Ensure the back foot points forwards and heel remians on the floor.
• Tuck the pelvis under again and then apply a small oscillation forwards towards the wall stretching into the hip and calf on the same side .
These strestches can be performed regularly throughout the day, before, during and after class. Try to keep sustained stretches (held for 30sec or more) until the end of the dancing day as these tend to reduce power in the muscle.
If you have access to a foam roller you can try these gentle releases also;
Place the roller just above the knee cap on the lower portion of the thigh muscle. Gently melt into this area, you may want to slowly roll from left to right to sheer the tissues upon one another.
You may want to add a ‘flex and extend’ of the knee to assist the glide of the tissues in this region.
This release is over TFL or upper rec fem (rectus femoris) region . We want to melt on the muscles to the side of the hip/ pelvic bone NOT at the front of the hip. Again we can hold and melt or roll slowly across the muscle.
*If you are not sure about placement, please ask your physio to check for you.
We are looking for a ‘release’ in the muscle which may take 30-60secs.
Enjoy these gentle yet effective hip openers. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.