STUDIO NEWS - Tight Hip Flexors

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Hip Flexors
The 3 major muscles of hip flexion are the Psoas Major, Iliacus & Rectus Femoris (the largest muscle of the 4 Quadriceps). They are aided by other muscles: Adductors (Brevis, Longus & Magnus), Sartoris, Gracilis, Pectineus & TFL - Tensor Fascia Latae). Together these muscles create hip flexion. Hip flexion is when the femur, or thigh bone, approximates the torso, closing the hip joint.
Unfortunately, the majority of the population has tight hip flexors. The explanation is simple: we are a sedentary society that sits a lot – at a desk, in a car, wherever. As a result, the hip flexors are chronically shortened (& the opposite is then true – the hip extensors are chronically lengthened – but that is an article for another newsletter).
But that isn’t the only reason. Our hip flexors also work as stabilizers of our hip joints. But they don’t work alone. Your core muscles also stabilize your torso as you sit. So while yes, the hip flexors do stabilize the hip joint, they aren’t supposed to work alone.
So what can you do? Stretching the hip flexors comes to mind first. The photos depict the right & wrong way to do a standing hip flexor stretch. The right way: stand in a short stance on the ball of the back foot with the front knee relaxed, slightly bent. Tilt the pelvis back – think Imprint - & feel the lengthening of the muscles as they go across the hip joint. The extended arm helps to get into the higher attachments of the muscles.
The wrong way: instead of tilting the pelvis posteriorly, many people hyperextend the lower back – putting it & the hip flexors into the opposite position that you want them to go in order to stretch the hip flexors.
There are many other stretches, 1 of which is the video in this month’s newsletter. There are 2 ways to do it: the first is depicted in the video with the opposite foot on the footbar. The hip joint is opened & the flexors stretched as you push the carriage out. In this position you will also get a great hamstring stretch on the opposite leg. The 2nd way to do the exercise for someone who has tight hamstrings & isn’t comfortable with their foot on the footbar, is to place 1 foot on the floor & leave the opposite knee on the carriage. You still get length through the hip flexors of the leg that is on the carriage without as much lengthening of the hamstrings of the leg with the foot on the floor.
As I said, lengthening the hip flexors is only part of the solution. When you feel your hip flexors screaming as you try to sit on your sit bones with your spine stacked & your legs lengthened in front of you, your hip flexors are doing their job as hip stabilizers. But if they are screaming, they probably are working harder than intended if your core, abs & spinal muscles are not doing their job. The stronger your core & ability to hold a stacked spine, the less the hip flexors are called on to take over the work of the other stabilizers. And strengthening your core is what we do every day in Pilates!


 Speaking of Good Posture...

Here is the Cleveland Clinic’s suggestions to a healthy back & good posture.

Newsletter Archive
Remember, you can always find past issues of the newsletter by following this link. You'll never know what stimulating articles you've missed until you do!

Video Highlight - Single Thigh Stretch
You will get not only a fantastic stretch through the hip joint with this exercise, you also get a really good hamstring stretch on the opposite leg!
To see more videos, visit YouTube & subscribe!
Single Thigh Stretch
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