Working Out Your Hip Flexors

While it certainly is important for you to get plenty of cardiovascular exercise with the help of machines such as treadmills and ellipticals, achieving a greater level of health also depends upon working out your muscles and toning your body.  One area that you should focus on when working out your muscle groups is your hip flexors, which is an area that is often overlooked.

What are Hip Flexors?

Your hip flexors are the group of muscles that are responsible for flexing the femur within the lumbo-pelvic complex. Since most people focus on the surface muscles, which are the ones you can “see” when looking at someone, these deep muscles are often overlooked.  Yet, the hip flexors are an important group of muscles because they are responsible for moving the thigh toward the abdomen and for moving the abdomen toward the thigh. 

Since the hip flexors are responsible form moving the thigh, they are used on a daily basis.  Every time you lift your leg in order to take a step up a flight of stairs, you are using your hip flexors.  You also use your hip flexors when you lift your torso so you can sit up, such as when you perform a sit-up.  Since the hip flexors help with moving the thigh and the abdomen, strengthening this group of muscles can help alleviate and prevent back pain.

Exercising Your Hip Flexors

There are several different exercises that you can do to help strengthen your hip flexors.  These include:

  • Air bike
  • Ball knee crunches (which are done with a stability ball)
  • Hanging leg raises
  • Leg raises
  • Roman chair exercises
  • Sit ups

In addition to strengthening your hip flexors, these exercises can also help tone your abdomen and while also increasing the flexibility of your flexors.  Increasing the flexibility of these muscles is important because it allows you to have a full range of motion.  When you don’t exercise these muscles or when they are underused, such as when you sit the majority of the day, the hip flexors can actually begin to shorten.  When they shorten, your full range of motion in your hips is limited. 

In addition to limiting your range of motion, hip flexors that are short and tight can also lead to pain in the lower back area.  This is because tightness in the hip flexors causes the pelvis to tilt forward, which compresses the lower back.  Therefore, by making an effort to workout and stretch out your hip flexors, you can improve your range of motion while also potentially reducing lower back pain that you may be experiencing.

By combining a routine of resistance training with cardio-training, you will achieve the greatest level of overall health and strength.  So, you might want to consider alternating between resistance training and cardio training each day or you may want to incorporate a bit of both with your daily routine – just be sure to pay attention to your hip flexors during your workout.  Although you may not be able to see them when you check out your physique in the mirror, they are there and they still need your attention.