As desk jobs become more and more popular, people start getting all sorts of issues caused by long periods of sitting down. See, sitting is perhaps one of the worst things that can happen to your body when done improperly. It will put extra pressure on your heart and muscles which on its own can lead to countless other issues. The primary purpose of this article is to show you how to avoid having tight hip flexors or how to undo the damage you’ve been doing so far to your muscles. The most common symptom connected with tightness in the hips and sore hip flexors is lower back pain.
It is estimated that 80% of Americans will experience episodes of lower back pain issues throughout their lives according to Wikipedia. That will amount to a total of 100 000 000 000 dollars worth of expenses. Yes, you heard that right, a hundred billion US dollars. This is why physicians are being more and more concerned about the sudden rise of this issue.
To help you understand better the concept behind hip flexors we will give you an example with your biceps. Generally, when a muscle contracts it becomes shorter. When your biceps does it, it brings your forearm closer to your shoulder by contracting. When you stop applying pressure to the muscle and rest, it will go back to its normal length but if you constantly and regularly apply pressure the muscle will become shorter structurally. Now, try applying this to your hip muscles.
The Main Cause Of It All
As you sit for long periods at work or in front of your TV at home or even drive your car you basically keep your hip flexors and hamstrings contracted which causes tightness in them. If you think about it, most people spend more than one-third of their days sitting down, which means that these muscles are constantly contracted for ⅓ of your day. Blood circulation and innervation within the tissues in that area are heavily compromised as well. With time the muscles will become more and more tight and short which will ultimately affect every aspect of your life from your stance to your digestive and circulatory systems. Besides regular stretching that can relieve you from the pain, there is this amazing book on how to unlock your hip flexors, you can check our review on it here. It has 70 pages of information on that topic as well as tons of exercises explained in details (including videos on them).
Now, don’t get us wrong. These muscles will still be able to work just okay in everyday scenarios but will constantly add strain to the lumbar part of your spine and the discs between your vertebrae. This added strain is what causes pain in the lower back region.
The Symptoms You Might Experience
Before we continue, it is important to note that there are two types of hip tightness out there:
- First Type – Your muscles are too short and tight (due to reasons mentioned above)
- Second Type – Your muscles are long/stretched (think about ballet dancers, for example) but feel tight.
Both these are indicators that there is something going on which deserves your attention. Remember that sore and tight hip flexors aren’t a cause of issues but the result of such. We will show you how to stretch them and feel better in general, but it is entirely up to you to remove the risk factors from your life as good as you can.
The first type responds better to stretching than the second type. How to distinguish which type you got? Let’s find out.
The First Type Is Most Common
It usually presents itself with some of the following issues:
- Neck Tightness Or Pain.
- Lower Back Ache
- Tightness With Standing
- Hip Tightness
- Pinching Pain In The Gluteal Area
- Trouble Getting A Deep Breath
The Second Type Is Extremely Rare Among Regular People
As mentioned only professional athletes, ballet dancers or yoga practitioners get this type of hip issues. In their case the muscle is far too stretched but still feels tight. That is because, for example, many young athletes are students and spend a lot of their time studying apart from heavy training. It’s rare even among athletes, but it occurs when people don’t stretch well enough after a heavy training session. It still has similar symptoms to the first type but can be distinguished judging by the person experiencing them.
Our Solution To All This
We think that this 5 steps sequence is the best way to stretch out your hip flexors. You can start by doing just the first two or three ones. Slowly progress into doing the whole five altogether, but remember that the final step is a bonus to it all. It is just for people with experience in yoga or stretching.
Go down on your right knee and bend your left leg at a ninety-degree angle. Keep your hands on your hips. You can place anything soft below your knee which is on the ground in order to feel more comfortable. Then engage your glute and ab muscles, tuck your pelvis and push forward through your hips. In this moment you will feel a stretch in the front of the right hip. Repeat this around 5 times then switch legs and do the same thing. Remember to alternate between deep and light stretching.
Stay in this position. Reach for the ceiling with your right arm and bend your spine to the left (slightly). Then straighten it, returning to the initial position. Again, do 5 reps and switch legs and arms.
Same position. Try drawing a circle with your hips going clockwise and then counterclockwise 5 times each.
This is called the “Glute Bridge”. You need to lie down on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Having something soft beneath you is always a comfy addition to this exercise. Place your feet close to your gluteal area. Engage the abs (this will place your lower back flat on the floor and tilt the pelvis). Press your heels to the floor and try to “peel” your back from it starting with the lower part and going slowly to the midsection. You need to lift your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep your shoulders, knees, and hips in line. Your abs should stay engaged throughout the whole process. Then go back in reverse order. Do 10 reps of this and move on to the final step.
This is called the “Pigeon Pose”. It all starts with a downward facing dog pose then you need to extend whichever leg you prefer high into the air and then bring the knee forward to the edge of your yoga mat. Then, take your other leg and raise it, leveling your hips. Hold this for 15 breaths and repeat with the other leg.
Try doing these exercises in the order presented here as often as you can (we recommend at least 4-5 times per week). Don’t worry, as after a few weeks you will get so used to doing these and many more stretches that your body would feel weird if you skipped a session.
In the world we live in, it is easy to forget how fragile our bodies can be when put under constant pressure and stress. Sadly, it is what most people do. Giving away just a few minutes of your day to address your tight hip flexors can do miracles for you and your overall health, so no need to wait any further, get on with it!