Many of us are familiar with the aches and pains that come from sitting at a desk all day, but did you know that if you unlock your hip flexors, you can also avoid years of pain in your lower back… and horrible kicking?
Your hip flexors are made up of three muscles: Iliocostalis lumborum, Longissimus thoracis and Spinalis dorsi.
These muscles pull on the lower spine causing a forward tilt and rotation of the pelvis which can cause stress on your L5-S1 disc at the bottom of your spine.
The combination of these two factors puts pressure on your SI-joint (Sacroiliac joint) causing low back pain. When the SI Joint becomes dysfunctional it may begin grinding which results in inflammation around the joint capsule (which is made up mostly by ligaments).
1. Release the Hip Flexors
The hip flexors are the muscles that pull your leg toward your body, and they’re typically tight for most people. This is especially true if you sit or stand with poor posture all day, which is common in modern society.
Sitting is like smoking for your hips. If you spend too much time sitting, then this will weaken the glute muscles (which control the movement of the hips).
The hamstrings and hip flexors will then become overactive to compensate for this weakness.
The following are some common problems caused by tight hip flexors:
- Low back pain
- Knee pain
- Hip pain (including groin pain)
- Weak and powerless kicks
2. Improve Your Hip Mobility with the Active Isolated Stretch
To do the Active Isolated Stretch, you will need a foam roller or tennis ball. Lie on your side with one leg bent at 90 degrees, and place the foam roller or tennis ball in line with the side of your body. With your other hand, reach behind you and grab onto a stationary object (like a chair).
As if trying to reach towards that object, rotate your body toward it while keeping both hips and knees bent at 90 degrees. Feel free to progress this stretch by extending one leg out straight while keeping both hips and knees bent at 90 degrees.
You can also progress this stretch by bending both knees less as well as extending one leg out straight while keeping both hips and knees bent at 90 degrees.
This is an excellent hip mobility exercise that can be done anywhere! To apply this technique in daily life (and prevent injury), we recommend incorporating it into your warm-up routine before kicking practice or games so that those muscles are warmed up for any activity involving impact on the legs such as running or jumping rope!
3. Open the Tight Piriformis
The piriformis is a muscle that helps rotate your thigh outward. If this muscle is tight, it can cause pain in the buttock and down the leg. You can perform a few exercises to stretch and open your piriformis.
Exercise 1: Supine Piriformis Stretch
- Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart from each other
- Lift one foot up and cross it over the other leg so that you’re lying on one side of your body (your knee should be bent)
- Keeping both legs straight and close together, push them away from you until they feel stretched but not painful—this could take anywhere from 2–5 seconds (you might not be able to get all the way there at first!)
4. Relieve Sacroiliac Pain with the 2 Joint Release
The 2 Joint Release can help relieve sacroiliac pain, but it is not for those who have a history of pelvic injuries or are pregnant.
If you’re unsure if this stretch will work for you, start by gently massaging your lower back and glutes with an oil like jojoba oil or coconut oil.
This will help loosen things up before attempting the 2 Joint Release.
You can also use a variety of hip extension release techniques as featured here on Kelly Starrett’s Ready State Channel:
Unlocking your hip flexors can help you be stronger, more flexible, and stay injury free!
Unlocking your hips can help you be stronger, more flexible, and stay injury free!
If you want to improve your performance in the gym or on the field, unlocking the muscles around your hip flexors can make a huge difference.
By improving strength, flexibility, and range of motion in this area of the body, you’ll also find that your posture improves as well.
Unlocking them will also help relieve pain if it’s due to tension or tightness in this area of the body. Finally, unlocking them will allow for better balance as well which is essential when moving quickly or running fast on any surface whether it’s grassy fields or concrete surfaces like basketball courts.
Unlocking your hip flexors can help you be stronger, more flexible, and stay injury free! You don’t need to be a professional athlete or have any experience with yoga. All it takes is some dedication and a willingness to learn something new.