Walk into the gym and grab a foam roller. You’ve got 5 minutes. Casually roll your hamstrings, maybe roll some of your back and spend the remaining 4 minutes and 45 seconds on your hip flexors. You can never get those suckers to relax.
Now stand up. Walk around the gym and grab your program. Boom, your hips are tight again.
Grab a band, place your back foot on a bench and stretch the crap out of your hip flexor. That’ll show them. Really get into it. Make sure you let out a groan and let the whole gym know how tight they feel.
Now walk around and grab a drink of water. Damn it. They’re tight again.
The reality is, stretch as much as you want. They’re never going to relent.
If you hang around a gym long enough, you’re bound to here someone say they have “tight hips.” If you’re lucky, you may hear the word “psoas” referring to the hip flexor called the Iliopsoas.
The majority of athletes and clients will claim to have tight hips. This is no secret, every program I’ve been apart of has placed an emphasis on stretching the front of the hip.
The question is……
How is that working for you?
Probably not that well.
You see, the iliopsoas in directly connected to your diaphragm. You can’t separate them without surgery. You can stretch that muscle as much as you want, but if you don’t re-position the diaphragm and rib cage, you’ll never get it to loosen.
If you are in spinal extension, which most people are, you should be happy your hip flexors can’t lengthen. They are literally holding your body upright. without them, you would fall flat on your face.
What to do about it:
Instead of stretching the hip flexor, we can work on re-positioning your diaphragm and rib cage. This will take the emphasis off the front part of your hips. Breathing exercises, emphasizing diaphragmatic breathing with hamstring and oblique activity will do the trick nicely.
In our programs, both in the gym and online we have had success getting rid of chronically tight hips by implementing these exercises. Whether it’s in warm ups or a reset within your program, we have used these principles to keep our clients moving well and moving often. This allows them to train harder and improve their athletic performance.
Here is an example of a breathing exercise we use to help our clients re-position their rib cage and pelvis to improve movement capabilities.