Runner’s frequently suffer from tightness in the hip flexor muscles and it is always a good time in your training cycle to address fixing this problem. In fact, people who sit all day suffer from the same issue. And, if you are a runner who also has a desk job, you just get slammed!
For clarity, in this article the term hip flexor refers to the iliopsoas muscle which spans from the front of the low back, along the front of the pelvis and finally attaches to the upper leg at the hip. When it contracts it pulls the leg and hip towards the chest. See Figure 1.
Treatment of chronically tight hip flexors is a combination of lengthening them with specific stretches and strengthening the opposite muscle groups, the hip extensors. Essentially, as the front muscles (hip flexors) get tight the back muscles (hip extensors) become weak creating an imbalance which leads to stiffness and pain.
The situation is further aggravated by hip flexion dominant activities such as running and cycling. This creates a vicious cycle of tightness, stiffness, and often pain, especially back pain.
Back pain is created from tight hip flexors because the iliopsoas attaches to the front of the low back vertebrae, so as it gets tight it pulls on the spine from the front, causing jamming and pain in the back.
For detailed exercises on fixing Hip Flexor Tightness in the runner check out this video.
The goal is to stretch the iliopsoas muscle group, not the quadriceps, or thigh muscles so watch the demonstration carefully.
Even if you simply have a desk job and have hip and /or back stiffness, stretching your hip flexors may be just what the doctor ordered.
Dr. Donald DeFabio is a dual board certified Chiropractic Physician in Berkeley Heights, NJ and the Chief of Chiropractic Services at DeFabio Spine and Sports Rehab, LLC where Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Nutrition, and Personal Training are integrated for a comprehensive approach to your health management. The office may be reached at DeFabioChiropractic@gmail.com or www.DeFabioChiropractic.com.