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Help! I only feel core work in my hip flexors!!

Updated: Mar 1

If you are like a lot of our clients, you might be struggling with only feeling your core work in your hip flexors. Perhaps you have some bossy hip flexors and upper abdominals and weak deep core muscles, or perhaps you feel like your hip flexors are always tight despite all the stretching you do.

anatomy of the hip flexors and iliopsoas

Your hip flexor muscles go from your back joints (the lumbar vertabrae and discs along with the diaphragm) to your thigh bone. The hip flexors work to flex the leg up. They also are a huge vertical stabilizer of the spine. They also stabilize the head of the femur (thigh bone) for the first 15 degrees of hip flexion. This muscle notoriously gets tight for a few reasons:

  1. First, is by having a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting a lot between going to school for years, driving, work and sitting on the courch puts your hip flexors in a short position. Over decades the hip flexors adapt to that and becomes quite literally short. Remember that we are designed to be hunters and gatherers. We are meant to be on-the-move. We take that state-of-the-art physiology and make it sit all the time and we end up with issues...

  2. Second reason for tight hip flexors is due to stress. The psoas is a spinal stabilizer, but it is also an emotional stabilizer. We are all under incredible stress and it is not uncommon that when we are working on releasing the hip flexors in the clinic, a client will burst into tears. Stress also puts us into stress-breath. We start to breathe into our upper chest, which tilts the diaphragm up... shortening the hip flexors. Simply drawing the breath down into the diaphragm can help the psoas let go.

  3. If your hip flexors are feeling tight, they may be not getting enough help from some other key muscles such as your core. It feels TIGHT because it is doing too much work. Perhaps your core is weak, your glutes are weak and your side glutes are weak. Getting those muscles working MORE can actually help your hip flexors let go.

Should you stretch? Maybe! If the hip flexor is actually short, stretching is helpful. But, if it is overworking because some neighbors are not pulling their weight... stretching may do more harm than good.

Below is an express yoga class that combines core strength (from the bottom-up to get those bossy upper abs to quiet down and to get the lower abs to do more) AND gluteal strength AND mid-back mobility... to get to the ROOT cause of your hip flexor tightness. If you enjoy this specific type of yoga for postpartum, prolapse, incontinence, back pain and diastasis, join our Movement Membership for {M}others OR if you live near Richmond, Virginia, come see us in person!

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