It's no secret that sitting for long periods of time results in tight hips. This can manifest itself in hip pain, dysfunctional movement patterns, or just general stiffness.
Your hip flexors, in particular, your psoas major, quads, and others, get brutally tight as a result of sitting. So much so that the muscles can pull your pelvis forward into what we call anterior pelvic tilt, which creates a host of other problems.
I'm specifically going to focus on the hip flexors in this article and how to both relieve tension and strengthen them.
But which do you need?
How do you know if your hip flexors are tight or if they are actually just weak? To narrow it down, let's run through a few quick tests.
The Thomas Test - hip flexor tension
This test will give you a view of the functional length of your hip flexors and if you're dealing with excess tightness. It will also reveal if one side is tighter than the other.
The Psoas Test - hip flexor strength
This test will reveal if there are any weaknesses in your hip flexors as well as if one side needs more attention than the other.
**Keep in mind that there can be signs of both tension and weakness in your hip flexors. If you're in this situation, both of the following prescriptions will help.
Mobility Prescriptions for Tension Buildup
Below are a few examples of ways to relieve tension in the hip flexors. I included both myofascial release as well as dynamic stretching options. The most effective mobility programs include a bit of both.
Quad /Hip Flexor Self-Myofascial Release
Psoas Self-Myofascial Release
Strength Prescriptions for Muscle Weakness
Use the following examples to build strength in your hip flexors to restore stability to your hips. The most effective strength programs are consistent! Perform these exercises every other day.
Kettlebell High Knees
If you can restore your hip flexors to their normal functional length and undo weaknesses and imbalances created by sitting, you can make your hips much more stable and functional for life inside and outside of the gym.
Preventing dysfunctional movement patterns and relieving pain and tension are your top priority here. The last thing you want to do is let the cycle repeat itself to the point where you're dealing with daily hip and lower back pain, (and at the worst case injury).
Sitting is, unfortunately, necessary for many of us. But we can take steps to keep our hips, healthy, mobile, and pain-free.
To your good health,
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