Welcome to the wonderful world of the Hip Flexors….
If you’ve ever been around a runner for more than 5 minutes, then you’ve probably heard them say something about their hip flexors. “They’re hurting.” “They’re tight today.” “They’re sore from that long run.” Whatever the topic may be, they tend to find their way into the conversation. But what exactly are these infamous “hip flexors?” For some of you, that may be a legitimate question. So I’ll explain for you…
Little do most people know, but your hip “flexors” are actually a group of muscles as opposed to one single “flexor.” I won’t give you every exact muscle, but here is a diagram of all of them for you. This will give you a good idea of what the term hip flexors refers to. Interesting to note here is that one of the more dominant hip flexor muscles (psoas) originates from the spinal cord.
So what’s the function of this group of muscles?? Well, it’s pretty simple. As the name indicates, they serve to flex the hip. This is particularly important in running, walking, and cycling because that is where the motion of the lower body begins (At least when it comes to picking the legs up off the ground). We CANNOT pick our legs up off the ground without engaging our group of hip flexor muscles. Sure, the quad and hamstring muscles produce much more force with knee extension and flexion, respectively, but our hip flexors get the process all started. We go nowhere without them.
So, in sticking with our running exercises of late, here are a few very simple exercises that target the hip flexor group.
FLOOR HIP FLEXOR
As you can see here, the only difference between the two is that, during the advanced version, your opposite foot is off the ground. So, if you’re lifting your right leg up and down, simultaneously use the same muscles in the left leg to hold it up off the ground. This takes a relatively simple exercise and gives it a little more intensity. Also, you can add ankle weights (5-15lbs) for added resistance.