Tight Hip Muscles
Many typical workout routines completely neglect exercises that strengthen and improve flexibility around the hip joint. This leads to whispers such as, “Heavy weight training leads to lower back pain.” No, buddy, a lack of strong and flexible hips is the cause of all your sorrow.
There are over 17 muscles that make up the hip joint. Reviewing all of them would make a great bedtime story, as you wouldn’t make it to the end, so I’m only going to cover the major culprits behind the pain.
Tight and underworked hip muscles can contribute to a range of chronic pain, such as:
Lower back pain
Problems with posture
Improper lifting form
Foot and Ankle injuries
Overload to antagonist (opposite) muscle
Lack of mobility/flexibility around the hip joint/muscular imbalance
Weak glute muscles (gluteus maximus and minimus) play a big role in lower back pain, knee pain, tight hip flexors (front of your thigh), improper lifting form during squat, hinge and lunge movements (knees come forward whilst squatting, knees collapse inwards during squat/deadlift/military press), and lack of glute activation during exercises.
Exercises that isolate your glutes are highly recommended as this will help rid you of your back pain, improve your major lifts, and for those of you that are trying to get a hip-hop vixen/reality star type of body, this is for you:
Weak and Tight Hamstrings
Your hamstrings (Biceps Femoris, Semitendinosus, and Semimembranosus), a group of muscles in the back of your thigh, are connected to both your knee and your pelvis. So, underperforming and tight hamstrings can lead to pain in both areas. Your hamstrings are responsible for many athletic movements such as jumping, climbing, running, and more. Tight hamstrings can have a terrible effect on posture, as this can cause anterior pelvic tilt (when the front of the pelvis drops and the back of the pelvis rises). Improving strength and flexibility leads to lower risk of injuries and chronic pain, as well as better athletic ability.
Addressing tight hamstrings:
Regular static and dynamic (movement with momentum to improve range of motion) stretches. Make sure that the stretch is held or done for 15-30 seconds for each muscle.
Foam rolling regularly is important as it releasing tightness and improving flexibility. Also, are you tired of being sore and walking like a duck after leg day? Foam rolling can help decrease the pain after a workout.
A few exercises to isolate the hamstrings:
Hip Flexor Group
The hip flexors are found on the anterior surface (front) of your thigh. What they are responsible for is all in the name, for those that didn’t catch that one: they are responsible for hip flexion. They allow you to move your leg or knee up towards your torso and allow you to bend your torso forward at the hip. The hip flexor group is made up of the tensor fasciae latae, rectus femoris, sartorius and iliopsoas. Tight hip flexors usually affect the hamstrings and vise versa.
The rectus femoris and the iliopsoas are heavily affected if you sit at a desk for long hours (so… most Americans). Be sure to stand and take short walks to decrease the chances of your muscles tightening up too much throughout the day.