Funny you should ask this question, as I am currently going through
some intensive therapy to loosen up my own abnormally tight hip
My course of action has been to undergo pressure point release with
my chiropractor and some realignment exercises with a physical
therapist. My hip flexors had gotten so tight and spasmodic that my
back was hurting intensely from the pull on my lower spine and pelvis.
If you can manage it, and you don't consider massage therapy to be
invasive, I suggest you visit a good therapist who is not afraid to do
deep pressure release on your iliopsoas and quadricep muscles. The
reason I suggest a massage therapist is because the pressure needed
can often bring you to tears, and it is a hard technique to perform on
If you would rather not go that route, I do have several suggestions
for you that will help you to loosen the iliopsoas (hip flexors).
First, make sure you know what the hip flexors are! (which I'm sure you do!)
Anatomy of the Hip Flexor Muscles (see picture)
"The Iliopsoas actually consists of two muscles: the Iliacus and the
Psoas Major. Together, they are known as the Iliopsoas. The Iliacus
originates on the pelvic crest and attaches on the femur. The Psoas
Major, the longer of the two muscles, originates on the lumbar
vertebrae and attaches to the femur. Not shown in this picture is the
Rectus Femoris. It is one of the four Quadriceps muscles and the only
one that crosses the hip joint. This crossing of the hip joint enables
it to operate as a hip flexor as well as a knee extensor
(straightening the knee)."
"Overdeveloped and tight hip flexors can contribute to lower back pain
by causing the pelvis to tilt forward. To counteract this, you must
stretch the hip flexors and strengthen the Abdominal muscles. This
will reduce pelvic tilt and decrease lower back pain. Strengthening
the lower back can also help improve the balance between the muscles
of the hip region."
Stretching and self-massage
When your hip flexors get extremely tight, as it sounds like yours
are, it is nearly impossible to simply stretch them out unless you
work on some sort of deep massage first.
Two methods are to use a portable massager or a foam roller. I often
resort to using the side of my fist to roll up and down the front of
my thigh when I am sitting down, and then follow the iliopsoas further
into the pelvis with my thumb. It hurts, but it helps! I also have a
portable massager that has several sides to the head (broad, flat, and
semi-pointed) that I can use on various parts of my upper thigh and
into the front of my pelvis.
Manual therapy with a foam roller
Hip Flexors: Balance on your forearms with the top of one thigh on the
roller. Roll from the upper thigh into the hip. Try this with the
femur both internally and externally rotated. To do so, just shift the
position of the contralateral pelvis. (In the photo, Mike would want
to lift his right hip to externally rotate the left femur)
A basic description of some self-massage techniques from the Peak
"however, self massage on the area above the psoas may help.laying on
the floor,head-back and part of the hip flat/knees bent and resting on
the seat of a couch,chair,ottoman,whatever will give you 90 degrees of
BOTH hip and knee bend so your calves and heels are level...you'll end
up looking like a Z..head at the bottom,feet at the top..THEN with
your left hand,the thumb will be just below the ribs,little finger
resting on the hip and fingers poiinting toward the navel-working with
the breath cycle on the EXhalation maintain downward pressure with
your fingers.. on about the 4th or 5th EXhalation you should be fairly
deep into the belly..working either to or fro/back and forth you'll be
in the tissues above the muscle..if its tender work a bit longer
[somewhere around 50-75 strokes done slowly] this should be noticable
but NOT painful- its a good technique to release the tightness of the
Psoas Muscle - Hip Flexor Stretch
Hip Flexor stretch on table
Side-Lying Quad/Psoas Stretch
Siff Dynamic Psoas Stretch
satsouline Ballistic Psoas Stretch
4-Stage Static Stretch
Hip Flexor Stretch Exercise Ball.
Straddle exercise ball with right leg bent in front of ball (knee over
ankle) and left leg extended behind ball, left toes facing forward and
heel up. Roll the ball forward feeling the stretch on the left leg.
Release and repeat right side.
Quad-Psoas Stretch (you can simply use a towel instead of the sitfit)
Kneel with right knee on SitFit (or folded towel) and left leg bent 90
degrees, left thigh parallel to floor and knee over ankle. At the same
time, rest your right foot on ball behind you, shoelaces down. Press
your right foot into the ball and release. Then, contract right glute
and press pelvis forward. For an advanced stretch, place hands on the
floor and lower chest toward floor reaching left arm around the inside
of the left leg. Release and repeat other side.
I hope you can find some relief utilizing these techniques.
tight hip flexors
foam roller and hip flexor release
self massage for tight psoas or hip flexors
stretches for tight psoas or hip flexors