Monday, August 21, 2017

Tight Hip Flexors - Weak Glutes. Who Knew?

The hip flexors - probably the most essential muscle for movement and balance and yet often the least trained and strengthened. Employment that involves sitting for extended periods of time and certain activities like cycling/spinning and running actually cause tightening of the hip flexors and a shortening of the muscle that can have several consequences for your health, training and sport performance.....

"Prolonged sitting and activities like jogging and cycling can lead to tight hip flexors and muscle imbalances (weak glutes?) which contribute to low back pain. Tight hip flexors create an anterior pull on the pelvis known as an anterior pelvic tilt. This alters posture and also inhibits, or turns off, the opposing muscle group, the gluteus maximus, leading to muscle imbalances...."
                                                                                                          Cooper Institute

As someone who has a desk job and is an avid cyclist and spinner some "issues" I have experienced this summer now makes perfect sense. Fortunately there are simple stretches that can address tight hip flexors. As an added benefit is the potential farewell to the dreaded pot belly pooch....

"When you sit all day — as almost all of us do — your butt muscles turn off and your hip flexors (the muscles on the front of your hips) get short and your abdominal muscles stop working. This causes your hip bone (pelvis) to tilt forward which puts stress on your back — causing, yes, lower back pain — but it also pushes your belly out. You can be adding to this scenario with exercises like crunches and running on the treadmill creating shorter and shorter hip flexors. So you look like you have a gut, even if you don’t have an ounce of fat! This is also the case if you are spending a lot of time in spinning classes which are a huge culprit of tightening the hip flexors and creating this pooch."
                                                                                                            Rachel Cosgrove

Who knew - I could be a poster child for tight hip flexors and weak glutes? It was driving me crazy why I was not seeing better results in my torso after so much interval and core training? Could it be something as simple as shortened hip flexors affecting my posture?

As a regular adherent to chiropractic I knew I had some pelvis/hip displacement and posture issues as identified by my chiropractor but I never made the connection to tight hip flexors despite Dr. J telling me I need to do additional stretching routines to improve my condition.

Needless to say I have seen the proverbial light and will begin doing specific hip flexor stretches immediately, including at my workplace as well as the gym and as a pre/post cycling/ball hockey regimen. Several different stretches are effective from simple movements to more advanced positions to help lengthen the hip flexors but here is a good link with video.

I feel like such a dummy. Sometimes you cannot see the forest for the trees.

Don`t forget the glutes!

"When you sit all day — as almost all of us do — your butt muscles turn off...."

Stretching tight hip flexors is required but you may also have a muscle imbalance. Sitting on backside for extended periods of time can result in weak glutes as well. Doing lots of lunges and squats might be ineffective if the glutes are not activated......

" Your glutes may not be activated or firing....and when your glutes don’t fire, you compensate and use other muscles like your lower back, hamstrings, and quads. "

"You must possess adequate hip flexor flexibility in order to open up the hips and maximally activate the glutes. And you must be able to control your own body weight in order to learn how to contract the glutes properly before you begin adding weight..."
                                                                                         B Contreras
Here are some activators.......

Additional activators and hip flexor stretches along with more advanced routines for strengthening the glutes.

Do I have weak glutes?

Perform single leg will find out quickly(wink).