It’s very painful. Getting out of bed is a hurdle. Your social life suffers and you feel like 20 years older. Of course I’m talking about lower back pain.

stretches for tight hip flexorsI’ve had scoliosis since I was a child so I know what I’m talking about. My lower spine is crooked and I’ve had some bad days when I couldn’t get out of bed. For a while I even used a special type of chair to make the pain go away when I sat down. And I had to use painkillers and muscle relaxers. Not very fun memories.

But now the pain is pretty much gone. In addition, I am relatively strong for my age and can deadlift close to 300 lbs. And all I feel now is that my lower back sometimes gets tired. So what happened? Let me explain.

I solved my lower back issues using a combination of stretching and resistance training. It turned out I had some serious muscle imbalances in my hip. To make matters worse, years of sitting down in an office chair made some muscles very weak. In combination with scoliosis it was a recipe for disaster.

Tight Hips (Lower Cross Syndrome)

I’m sure you are familiar with the posture in the picture below. It’s a condition known as Lower Cross Syndrome (arched lower back or tight hips), and I used to look like that. It turned out to be one of the major causes for my lower back pain.

Lower Cross Syndrome is caused by muscle imbalances, i.e. two opposing muscles (agonist-antagonist) surrounding a joint have different lengths. Consequently this imbalance causes the joint to pull/rotate too much in one direction.

In the case of Lower Cross Syndrome the pelvis has rotated anteriorly (forward).

stretches for tight hip flexors

It’s possible to have this condition genetically, but for most people it’s caused by a sedentary lifestyle. In my particular case, I’d been sitting too much in an office chair. 13 years to be exact. I’m sure others are also guilty of that right?

Muscle Imbalances for Tight Hips

First of all, let’s start with looking at the table below. This table shows what types of muscle imbalances are involved for tight hips. For now let’s just focus on the first column describing the Short Muscles.

stretches for tight hip flexors

I know, for someone not familiar with human anatomy this probably looks like Greek. So let me help out with some explanations:

  • Gastrocnemius and Soleus are are part of our calf musculature
  • Hip flexor complex is part of the musculature responsible for our hip movements
  • Adductors is a muscle running along the inside of our thighs
  • Latissimus dorsi is our large back muscles. The wings on big bodybuilder guys
  • Erector spinae is a bundle of muscles running along our spines

I hope that description helped. So with this information at hand, what does the table tells us? It tells us some of our muscles are short and causing the hip bone to rotate anteriorly. So what can we do about it? We can stretch the short muscles and make them of normal length again!

Finally, with the above information we can identify what hip stretches are needed to be able to correct the imbalances.

Let’s start!

Stretches For Tight Hip Flexors

In this chapter I’ll describe the stretches for tight hip flexors I used to fix my lower back pain. I’ll start with the most important, which in my opinion is the Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch. If you’ll only have time to do one stretch, do this one!

When I started out, I did stretches for tight hip flexors daily until I noticed large improvements. Now when my posture has been mostly corrected, I still do them. But not as often. Perhaps once or twice per week.

As final note before we start, it’s very important to hold the hip stretches for 30 seconds. The theory behind is a bit complicated, but in short there are two forces that pull in opposite direction. They relax after 30 seconds, thus for maximum result we need to hold for 30 seconds.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

stretches for tight hip flexors

  1. Kneel down with front and back legs at a 90 degree angle
  2. Tighten the core muscles
  3. Squeeze gluteal muscles of the side being stretched and rotate the pelvis posteriorly *
  4. Slowly move body forward until you feel a tension in the front of the hip being stretched
  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds

* If this step sounds confusing, this video visually shows how it’s done.

Gastrocnemius Stretch

stretches for tight hip flexors

  1. Stand up and face a wall or something stable
  2. Keep one leg behind the other
  3. Tighten the core muscles
  4. Keep the back leg extended, the knee and foot pointing straight and the back heel on the floor
  5. Lean forward while bending arms. Keep the back heel on the ground throughout the stretch
  6. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds

 Standing Adductor Stretch

stretches for tight hip flexors

  1. Stand in a stance with the feet wider than the shoulders. Move one leg back until the toe of the back leg is in line with the heel of the other foot. The feet should be pointed straight
  2. Tighten the core muscles and posteriorly rotate the pelvis (See the Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch for more details)
  3. Perform a side lunge until you feel a stretch in the straight leg’s groin area
  4. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds

 Latissimus Dorsi Ball Stretch

stretches for tight hip flexors

  1. Kneel down in front of a stability ball
  2. Place one arm on the ball with the thumb pointed straight up
  3. Tighten the core muscles and posteriorly rotate the pelvis (See the Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch for more details)
  4. Slowly roll the ball forward by extending the arm
  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds

Closing Thoughts

The above stretches for tight hip flexors were everything needed to solve my bad posture. And in combination with resistance training, it also fixed my lower back pain.

As final words, it’s very important to listen to your body. While doing these hip stretches, you should not feel severe pain. Hence start slowly and work your way up to a 30 seconds hold. As always, if you have a previous medical condition, especially old muscle injuries, you should consult your doctor before trying these stretches for tight hip flexors.