People often tell me, “Josh, no one reads articles or blogs anymore, stop dong them.” Maybe people don’t, at least they probably don’t read them like they used to because we live in an age of 15-30 second video clips. It can be very hard to give any actual information or education in such formats, but I thoroughly believe if we want to change the industry, we have to keep pushing for better communication. That is why I wanted to tackle something that I know so many of our readers deal with…tight hip flexors!
If you feel like the tin man doing yoga then don’t be surprised stretching isn’t helping you.
How do I know? When my back started to become very aggravated in my college basketball days, the team physical therapists told me, “Josh, stretch those hip flexors as much as possible.” That was my first introduction to the idea that tight hip flexors would be such a BIG problem!
From there I went to countless corrective exercise programs, read tons of research, and YEA those tight hip flexors are a huge problem! As I started to look at my clients through this lease of tight hip flexors, pretty much ALL my clients had tight hip flexors. So, we did what we were taught, stretch, stretch, and stretch those darn tight hip flexors.
They would come off the stretch table feeling pretty good. We obviously were on the right track. THEN after a few reps of an exercise, I would hear people telling me they were “feeling” that they were tightening back up. We would go to the table again and check out their hips and guess what. Those hip flexors went back to being tight!!!! What the heck? So, with only stretching at our disposal, we tried to do this again and again but you know what they say about the definition of insanity right?
Like a lot of people I would get done stretching and feel good but 5 minutes later my tight hip flexors came right back!
Some may say we may have either chosen inappropriate or bad exercises. However, I don’t think that was the case. We would spend time on exercises that opened the hips, those that taught them to integrate the hips, we did all the things that the experts would tell you was right! What was happening? How come this wouldn’t stick!
It wasn’t till I got more into how the body functions and how everything is connected that it became clear to me what I was NOT teaching my clients about helping their tight hip flexors. While most of us in fitness blame tight hip flexors for causing low back pain, or inhibiting our hip mobility, the truth is thy are JUST doing their jobs. We have to ask WHY these muscles are getting “tight”.
As physical therapist, Gray Cook says, when our body identifies “sloppiness” it defaults to tightness. What does that mean? How does that relate to our tight hip flexors? Well, we have to understand our hip flexors are important core stabilizers and not bad guys. The issue arises when the rest of the core stabilizers don’t know THEIR job and the hip flexors feel like they have to take over.
So, we often blame the development of tight hip flexors on sitting too much, it isn’t probably for the reasons people think. When we sit, yes, our hip flexors shorten, but so do a lot of other muscles so why doesn’t EVERYTHING get tight? To some degree they do, but not because they are just shortened. I mean, unless you were in a cast for weeks these muscles don’t stay shortened THAT long. Even then, you see range of motion come back to an area that was in a cast pretty fast. What is the REAL reason we see these tight hip flexors.
That can be largely traced to having both issues in the lower body AND/or core stability issues. Why? If we look at how our body is designed, everything comes from the ground up, an unstable foundation can cause other areas to become unnecessarily tight like the hip flexors. Same can be said of instability of the core.
What DVRT Master Cory Cripe discusses is how we use specific cues and exercises to teach people how to help the instability to create better mobility, ESPECIALLY in those tight hip flexors.
This is SO important because people don’t really understand HOW to create stability and they are missing concepts like tension BIG TIME! That is why we STILL see so many people using a bodybuilding mentality to address our mobility issues. Got a shoulder restriction? Let’s just move the shoulder. Got tight flexors, just stretch the hips. What understanding functional fitness should help us with is understanding WHY we have tightness. Strength coach Martin Adame breaks down how we have to STOP bodybuilding and focus on how the body is designed for movement!
Find out more how we use DVRT to make “magic” happen for the body. All we do is teach is how to make science come to life! Discover how through our online DVRT programs and how our Ultimate Sandbags are much more powerful than most people think with 30% off with code “fall” HERE
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