Hip Flexors Part 5 (Weak Glutes and Hip Flexors)
This is the fifth and final post (for the time being) on tight hip flexors and how to help strengthen, stretch and alleviate this issue. Please check out the other posts in this series.
The last piece of the hip flexor puzzle can be tied to the gluteus complex and a weak non-dominant hip flexor. It is easy to have both of these issues happening.
Do you have Weak Glutes?
The glutes (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus) are tied directly into the hip flexors. When your hip flexors are tight, as discussed in previous posts, it can be for many reasons, often combined reasons. If your glutes are underdeveloped or firing incorrectly it can add to the tight hip flexor. One of the most intriguing body misfires is that we many of us struggle to engage the backside of the body. Out of sight out of mind! Obviously you can work on strengthening the backside of the body.
One of the best things you can do is slow down. Slow down any movements that requires glute activation and check in with your body. Are the glutes actually firing? When you are doing squats, for example, do them without weights and slow down the movement to see if you can activate your glutes. It is really easy to rely on frontside muscles like the quads or overworked hip flexors.
Gluteus Strengthening Exercises
Glute Isolation Single Leg Lift (Abduction)
Begin on your side with your back against the wall, yes I am not against the wall in this photo. Place your back flat against the wall. Engage the core inward and support the head with an arm or let the head lay on the lower arm. With the top leg straight, lift the leg up in abduction. Focus on lifting from the top leg gluteus muscles. It may be very difficult to engage the glutes. Go slow and concentrate on both the up and the down (adduction) Keep the core working in synergy with the glutes. Begin with three sets of 12 reps on each side.
Begin on the stomach (prone), place the hands under the forehead or turn the head to the side. Engage the core, then lift and engage the glutes, low back, hamstrings and legs in order to lift and hold the legs off the floor. Think about lengthening the legs away from the body and opening the joints as you lift the legs. Of course, concentrate on the glutes and lifting from the glutes again in synergy with the core. It is easy to release the core in this series. Begin with 3 sets of 8, holding for 10-15 seconds.
Begin the same at the first Half Locust. Again making sure to engage the core. In this version isolate one leg at a time to lift and hold. Focus on the glutes and core connection, do not worry about leg lift height but again think about lengthening the lifted leg. This exercise may help you discover if one side is weaker through more fatigue during a set. Begin with 3 sets of 8, holding for 10-15 seconds on each side.