On an almost weekly basis, I'll begin working with a new client or athlete who waxes poetic on how "tight" his or her hip flexors are.
They'll often point to a very specific point on the front of their hip and say, "see, right there—it's so tight."
They'll then say how they've been stretching that area for years (years!) with little to no improvement. Newsflash: if you've been doing something for years with little progress to show for it, I think it's time to turn the page and find an alternative solution.
Inevitably, what ends up happening is that I'll ask them to demonstrate how they've been stretching their hip. What follows is something that looks like this visual:
When you execute the hip flexor stretch in this manner, as most people do, you're not actually stretching the area you think you are. In fact, it's likely making your hip flexors feel tighter, if anything.
The hip flexor stretch itself isn't bad or a waste of time, but rather it comes down to improper execution. In short, most people perform the stretch in a poor position, or in misalignment, which inevitably leads to more instability in the front of the hip.
The reason the area continues to feel "tight" isn't because of a shortened muscle. Instead, the resulting sensation is due to something called protective tension. Basically, the area is unstable, and continuing to perform the hip flexor stretch in a manner most people perform it is only feeding the underlying issue(s) in the first place.
But fixing this common issue is as simple as making a couple key tweaks to your hip flexor stretch. Once you feel what it's like to stretch your hip flexor the right way, you'll never make that mistake again. See the video above for a full breakdown on how to fix your hip flexor stretch and finally find relief.
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