Are you hard at it training those abs, flexing those pecs, burning those biceps, gunning those glutes? That’s good, but there’s one muscle set that everyone needs to train and that very few actually do.
Here’s everything you need to know about your hip flexors, what they do, why they matter and how to strengthen them.
Reasonably enough, the hip flexors are the muscles that perform hip flexion. This means movements that bring legs towards body or body towards waist. Any bend in the middle of your body involves your hip flexors. The main muscles to train are the psoas major and iliacus, collectively known as the iliopsoas.
The iliopsoas is the only muscle that crosses the pelvis and hence links upper body to lower body. This muscle is as ‘core’ as it gets and plays a major role in posture and body strength.
If the iliopsoas is tight, it pulls the hips forward. This strains the back and can also push the stomach out. The effect of that is to give the appearance of a beer belly where none may actually exist.
The main cause of a too-tight iliopsoas is the thing we all do too much of – sitting. Try to do less of that, and pay attention to posture when you do.
Yoga poses are excellent to relieve tight iliopsoas muscles. Correctly targeted dynamic stretches also help to locate the muscle, which can be difficult to isolate. Try these moves, remembering to warm up first.
Work those hip flexors – the most important muscles you didn’t know you had!
We have hip problems in our family and I make sure I include regular hip flexor stretches to keep my hips healthy. I agree with Helen - they are satisfying to do, which is probably because standard daily movements don't stretch them
indeed - who knew? I am inspired to get up from the computer and walk round the room right now, and will have a go at those exercises.
I had never heard of hip flexors until a few years ago. Now I read about them all the time. Good that people are becoming more aware of stretching them. And there's something very satisfying about stretching them too!