Are you making this common hip flexor stretch mistake?

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It's a universal problem - tight or short hip flexors. Almost every patient we see in clinic is prescribed some form of hip flexor stretch or hip opening mobility drill. We regularly advise stretching as part of our Sports Massage sessions. And most people do exactly what they are told and perform the hip flexor stretches daily. And the question I get asked is..

Why aren't the stretches working?

Well unless there is something very different about your body than everyone else's then stretching work will increase hip flexor length and improve hip mobility. And again, assuming you're spending the right amount of time stretching then you should get an improvement.

So maybe its how you're performing the hip flexor stretch that is the issue.

THE most common mistake when stretching the hip flexors is to allow the pelvis to anteriorly rotate. This causes lumbar lordosis, which increases the pressure on your lower back. Ultimately by allowing the back to bend you're bypassing the hip flexors altogether - getting little stretch through them, and little improvement.

How to improve your hip flexor stretching

  1. Reduce the intensity of the stretch - move away from the wall, relax the amount of bend in the knee and don't sink as far
  2. Work on posteriorly rotating your pelvis - check out the video first then practice squeezing your glutes, drawing in the lower abs, and flattening out your lower back
  3. Then move back into the hip flexor stretch - if you're doing this correctly then you won't have to sink very far into the stretch at all in order to feel it.

How do you know you're performing the hip flexor stretch correctly?

  • As you're stretching you should feel it in the front of the hip. I always say it should be where the crease in your trousers is when you sit down. That's where the common hip flexor tendon lies, and that's where we want the stretch.
  • You may be feeling the stretch further down the front of the leg into the quads, but you shouldn't be feeling it in the knee or in your back. 
  • So sometimes stretching for longer or deeper isn't the answer. If you're being good and spending time performing hip flexor stretching and hip mobility work you should be seeing a difference. Implement these tips and see how that can improve your stretching work.

Learn more about hip mobility here

Follow Vicki:

Sports Massage Therapist

Vicki Marsh MSc BA (hons) studied at Oxford University before training as a Sports Massage Therapist. With over 12 years experience she specialises in chronic pain & complex cases as well as coaching Crossfit & Weightlifters. She runs specialist workshops, creates online courses and has spoken at events such as COPA on how to grow a successful business.

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