There are a few muscles that can flex the hip, but the two most powerful ones are the iliacus and psoas muscles, commonly referred to as iliopsoas. These two muscles originate at different places on the spine (see picture below) but both insert into the front of the femur at the same spot. They are responsible for spine and hip flexion, maintaining curvature in the low back, and stabilization of the pelvis and spine. For this reason, the best stretch to target all the angles of this muscle is the 3-way hip flexor stretch.
When the iliopsoas muscle is tight on the front of the body, it pulls on the low back and places extra stress on the facet joints in the back of the spine. It can also affect the gait (the way someone walks), which could potentially place extra stress on knees or ankles. Muscles behave similarly to rubber bands. When you put a weight on a muscle, it causes it to overstretch. Once the weight is removed, there is often less elasticity in the muscle, which makes it more prone to injury. In the picture below, you can see how the hip flexors are the weight pulling on the hamstring. Therefore, though you may be experiencing hamstring strains, the solution may be a hip flexor stretch. At Denver Sports and Family Chiropractic Center we are trained in evaluating biomechanical imbalances and helping to restore proper function in the surrounding muscles and joints. While stretching is a great at home, Active Release Technique is superior to a simple stretch in helping the muscle to elongate and breaking up adhesions that form when the muscle gets short.
If you are experiencing low back pain, chronic hamstring tightness, or feel a “pulling” in the front of your hip, there’s a good chance the hip flexor is the culprit. Make sure to schedule an appointment by calling 303-758-1100 to get it evaluated and treated by a trained physician.