Updated: Feb 21, 2019
This little discussion on tight dominant hip flexors has ended up becoming five posts. It's a very complicated issue as the hip flexors are major players in the body and in aerial arts. Take at look at the two previous posts.
We have dicussed how the hip flexors work and why they work. Flexion, my friends! So you can lift up into a perfect straddle back inverison or chopper. We have also addressed common problems in form or strength that might be causing tight hip flexors and especially common in aerial arts, the dominant tight hip flexor. Below is a quick recap.
How the Tight Hip Flexor Happens
1. Overuse, repeat movement patterns
2. Weak glutes or weak core
3. Tight or stronger core on one side
4. Favoring a dominant side (this can be related to how you stand)
What Body Responses Happen with Tight Hip Flexors
1. Pain in the tight hip flexor(s)
2. Pain in the pelvis and hips due to misaligned sides
3. Weak non-dominant hip flexor
4. Pain in the inner thigh and knee (adductors taking on flexion when the hip flexor is too tight)
5. Pulling on the QL and subsequently the rhomboids and traps, pulling the shoulder girdle out of whack.
6. Tight calves
Here is a big problem; aerialists, dancers and polers tend to be flexible and strong. A basic stretch session may not be enough to undo tightness. The reality is, it's hard to release a locked spot in the body by yourself. Give yourself the gift of body work. Go to a highly skilled physical therapist who is actually going to do body work, dry needling and muscle activation on your hip flexor, not just give you some stretches. Another solution is to get massages frequently, find a massage therapist who understands exactly what to do with tight hip flexors. If I am in a heavy training phase, I go every two weeks, it is worth the money. The way to maintain in between massages is through self-myofascial release, facilitated stretching and maintenance on weak spots.
Self Myofascial Release for the Hip Flexors
Foam Roller Release
Begin prone with the foam roller just under the pelvic crest. Slowly roll down over the hip flexor area moving into the quad. You can focus on the hip flexors or go all the way down the quad stopping before the knee. Begin back at the pelvic crest, keeping the roll one direction. After a few rolls, you can start to stop the roller on tight spots, hold on these spots for 30 seconds to 90 seconds. You will have to shift your weight to find the locked spots. You can also do this with a tennis ball, it's more intense but you can pin-point spots deeper.
Gravity Hip Flexor Release
Start on your back on the edge of a bed, sofa, massage table, or weight bench; the side you wish to stretch is hanging over the edge. Begin to release the leg down until you feel the stretch in the hip flexors. If you are on a higher object the leg may just hang, in the photo above I am on a lower surface and I need to tuck my leg underneath to feel a stretch. This is an intense stretch, listen to your body, try to stay 30 seconds to 90 seconds.
This is even more intense. Place one hand on the pelvic crest and one hand on the upper thigh, press down and deepen the stretch through the hip flexor.
Here are links to all the posts in this series.
Tight Hip Flexors
Tight Hip Flexors (Basic Stretching)
Tight Hip Flexors (Facilitated Stretching)
Tight Hip Flexors ( Weak Glutes and Hip Flexors)
Here is a past post on other Auxillary Hip Flexor Stretches.
Our next post will be about facilited stretching techniques that you can use to release the hip flexors.