Hip flexors are one of those muscles that athletes love to hate. When they’re sore or tight, your workout is doomed before it even begins.
The hip flexors are actually a group of muscles, and are involved in lifting your knees and bending your waist. Therefore, they experience stress when running – especially while sprinting – and also when you kick. So whether you’re a runner, dancer, soccer player, football player, martial artist, you name it…you’re going to experience sore hip flexors at some point, and foam rolling is an excellent way to alleviate the tightness and pain. Let’s find out how!
Table of Contents:
- Foam Rolling Hip Flexors Can Help With Lower Back Pain
- Foam Rolling the Hip Flexor Can Help With Snapping Hip Syndrome
- How to Foam Roll Your Hip Flexors
- A Few More Hip Flexor Exercises
- Additional Ways to Prevent Hip Flexor Pain
Foam Rolling Hip Flexors Can Help With Lower Back Pain
Did you know that a lot of back pain, especially lower back pain in the lumbar region, is caused by tight hip flexors?
If you’re sitting at a desk, driving, or even sleeping, your hip flexors will be in an unnatural, shortened position. The hip flexors then become contracted and the psoas muscle, the hip flexor that attaches to the lumbar spine, will become inflexible. This can eventually lead to disc strain, spinal problems, and back pain.
Foam Rolling the Hip Flexor Can Help With Snapping Hip Syndrome
Snapping hip syndrome, also known as “dancer’s hip”, is a painful condition where any movement of the hip will cause pain along with an audible snapping or popping sound. The recommended treatment for snapping hip syndrome is often to use the HI-RICE method: hydration, Ibuprofin, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The root cause of this issue is generally tight hip flexors. Therefore, stretching the hip flexors usually helps to treat the problem. Fitness expert Ben Greenfield suggests foam rolling hip flexors to assist in increasing flexibility, and preventing this issue from recurring in the future.
How to Foam Roll Your Hip Flexors
- Lie face down on your foam roller, with the roller located underneath and a little below your right hip.
- Cant your left leg to the side, with the knee bent at about a 90 degree angle.
(This is mainly just to get the left leg out of the way.)
- Place your forearms on the ground in front of you, supporting some of your body weight.
- Extend your right leg out straight behind you, with your toes pointing backwards, and your foot flat against the ground.
- Begin to roll slowly back and forth, with some right-to-left movement as well.
- Continue for 20 to 30 seconds, or until you find a trigger point. Focus on any trigger points for about 10 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
Tip: When foam rolling the hip flexor, you might find it easier to use a shorter foam roller. We highly recommend the inexpensive 18-inch AmazonBasics roller, or the more expensive (and more effective) 13-inch GRID foam roller.
As always, foam rolling your hip flexors is one of those things that is easier to do than to actually explain. To simplify the matter, here’s an excellent instructional video that demonstrates the process and also points out a few common mistakes.
A Few More Hip Flexor Exercises
After you’re done foam rolling your hip flexors, there are a few extra exercises you can do to really help strength and stretch the muscles.
- Reverse Lunges. Reverse lunges are great for the hip flexors.
When you do reverse lunges, you’ll actually be working your glutes, too. The glutes and hip flexors are heavily inter-connected and through the process of reciprocal inhibition, when one is tight, the other can’t function optimally. Doing a reverse lunge will lengthen out the hip flexor and activate the glutes.
- Back Bridge. The back bridge (or just bridge) is another great hip flexor exercise that again involves your glutes. (You’ll notice this trend that everything in the body is so inter-connected. The glutes connect to the hip flexors, which connect to the spine; if any one of these is tight, you could experience back pain. To treat that pain, we have to treat not one, but all of the connecting areas.) Hence we’re again using reciprocal inhibition to treat our hip flexors via the glutes.
Additional Ways To Prevent Hip Flexor Pain
- Avoid sitting for long periods of time. If you have a desk job, it’s best to take breaks frequently. Every hour, you should get up and walk around a bit. Before you sit back down, stretch out your legs a bit – a standing hamstring stretch and a nice deep forward lunge can do wonders.
- Ensure that you warm up adequately before doing rigorous physical activities. Take some time to stretch out before you start the activity. Then, progress in intensity gradually – don’t take off at max speed right from the beginning. Additionally, research has found that some activities might actually benefit from foam rolling before you exercise, instead of just doing static stretching.
How Often Should You Foam Roll Your Hip Flexors?
Every day! If you suffer from chronic pain, or have severely sore/tight muscles, you’ll benefit from creating a daily routine. Make it a habit to foam roll and stretch each morning. Then before a workout, do some additional foam rolling (maybe 3-5 minutes total) to warm up, as well as some dynamic stretching. After the workout do static stretching, with another foam rolling session of 10-20 minutes. It might sound like a lot of time spent with your roller, but trust me, your body will thank you for it.