I’m pretty sure it’s unusual to have a favourite muscle group (although maybe not among massage therapists!), but one of mine is definitely the hip flexors. There are actually many muscles that act on the hip joint to flex it, but the ones commonly referred to as the ‘hip flexors’ are iliacus and psoas major (aka iliopsoas).
One of the reasons I find them fascinating is their position within the body. They of course cross the front of the hip joint in order to produce the flexing (bending) action of the hip, as their name suggests. However, the psoas major muscle extends all the way up to the lumbar spine. In fact, the upper part of it actually attaches to the spine very close to the diaphragm, which has led some to speculate that there could be a link between breath and the hip flexors!
“My hip flexors are really tight”
This is something I frequently hear from clients (and actually, something I often say myself). and there are many reasons as to why you may feel tight in the hips. Maybe you’ve been sitting for long periods of time, so the muscles are in their shortened state; or perhaps they underused and a little weakened; or the opposite – maybe they’re overworked?
“What can I do about it?”
Well, this depends on the reasons for your hip flexor issues. If this is an ongoing issue that’s causing you problems, you may be best making an appointment with a physiotherapist to have it properly assessed. However, if you want to try a good stretch for some short-term relief, I have detailed my absolute favourite one below.
Finally, and perhaps I am biased here(!), but massage can be really helpful in releasing muscle tension. Personally, I very rarely directly massage the hip flexors as they’re deep muscles and it’s a very unpleasant experience! However, there are certain techniques that I use far more often, such as assisted stretching or METs (muscle energy techniques) to relieve tension and increase range that can be very effective.
If you’re feeling tight in your hip flexors, get in touch with our team for more information and to find a strategy that works for you.