Loosen those Hip Flexors!
Cyclists & runners are renowned for tight hip flexors but half of those that I assess actually don't have any restriction in range of motion. Why is this?
- The hip flexors attach to the front of your pelvis & if there is a notable weakness (core control/hip flexors) they "grip on" giving the sensation of tightness.
- If you lose your pelvic control, your back starts to arch and as a result, your hip flexors start to work in a less favourable position.
Try out this Thomas test to see if you do actually have shortened hip flexors impacting your range of motion or instead maybe strength work wouldn’t go amiss.
- Perch on the end of a bed, hug your knee to chest and slowly lie backwards. Let the testing leg hang & measure how far the thigh is from the bed.
The sensation & complaint of tight hip flexors …
…isn't always justified. Both running & cycling are primarily sagittal plane (forwards/backwards) activities. As a result, they rely on your posterior chain (muscles on the back of your body ie glutes/hamstrings/calves) for propulsion but additionally those driving you fwd (hip flexors predominantly).
These are often overlooked in strength programs. Do you incorporate specific exercises to target the hip drive that is so relevant to running & cycling?
Try this to assess your strength capacity: sit up tall back against the wall & with a flexed ankle, lift your leg 1-2inches off the floor.
Simple - (smile & pose not necessary) Many of you will be surprised with how tricky you find it.
If this is rather tricky… there are solutions. Weak & tight hip flexors will pull your pelvis into an anterior tilt so when you're working your hip flexors, focus on engaging your core & preventing this tilt (i.e. avoid arching your back as you instead generate the movement from the hip).
Starting with the easiest version -
- lying on your back as gravity assists this desired pelvic position
- maintaining hip stability in a bridge position
- plank position (as this challenges the core simultaneously).
For more information and exercises…
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